This is a blog post on fabric dyeing with horse chestnut (conker). I am using horse chestnut leaves at the moment as it’s all I got going at the time of writing. It is possible to dye with flowers and shells from them. There is a bit of leaves that were on the ground around April / May months. As they were broken down by rain and wind. It is not as much as in autumn but it’s enough to keep on going.
I have been fabric printing with horse chestnut (conker) leaves as they give nice colours and dramatic print. The print has got fast properties as well after some mordant. So I knew it has got some dye properties in the leaves. The flowers do have colours as well but fresh flowers might be not enough for the dye pot. The flowers turn brown after falling from trees.
Fabric dyeing with horse chestnut (conkers)
In order to extract dye from the leaves, one needs to heat/ simmer the leaves. For concentrated dye liquid simmer with a minimum of water. Simmer the leaves till it is wilted and the liquid becomes reddish-brown. Then add the fibres. I used silk, wool and cotton. Mordanted cotton in soy tends to produce stronger colours.
I didn’t use any alum or iron in this experiment as I wanted to keep it simple. I did use the dye and painted on paper and they do produce a nice colour on watercolour paper. Like most dye baths they don’t keep for long as it can go mouldy after a while.
I believe conker shells do produce nice dye colours as well so will update it on the blog when I have the opportunity.