How to obtain green dye out of Japanese indigo

This is a blog post on how to obtain green dye out of Japanese indigo. Japanese indigo is also known as Pestacaria Tinctoria commonly grown in temperate climates like the UK, northern US, and Japan. I have been growing it in my garden this summer. It is an easy to grow dye plant. Here are some tips on growing and harvesting Japanese indigo.

Typically what most natural dyers do is soak these harvested leaves from a few hours to days in order to obtain blue dye. Here is a link on how to obtain the blue dye. That process is long and tedious. So I found another way to obtain dye from the same plant. This time it turns out to be green.

This cold extraction method works best on protein/ animal fibres like silk and wool. It does work with cellulose fibres like linen or cotton but the green colour result is much paler.

Silk fabrics dyed with Japanese indigo

How to obtain green dye out Japanese indigo

In order to obtain green dye out of Japanese indigo is to follow a few simple steps.

You will need the following:

Freshly harvested Japanese indigo leaves.

2 cups crushed Ice cubes

1-2 tbsp salt

Blend the Japanese indigo leaves in a blender or pestle and mortar. This is to extract the green extract from it. It is fresh extraction so it is most likely you will get green colour not blue. Then add the crushed ice or blend in the ice cube if it is not crushed. This is to keep the dye cool. Add salt then the fabric. I believe salt acts as a curing process to the fabric. All the desired fabrics.

fabric dying on washing line after being soaked in green Japanese indigo dye

This process doesn’t take long, however it does largely depends on how many leaves one has got. The more the deeper greener the colour will be. So this method is great to use during summertime when leaves are abundant. Once the fabrics are dipped into the mixture one will see the green colour. It can/ may take a few dips to get the nice deep green colour. I would advise waiting for the fabrics to dry out before redipping. this is to allow the colour to seep into the fibres. Fabrics like silk dry out quite quickly as well, especially in summer.

The only issue with this method is that the blended leaves stick to the fabrics when dye. One solution is the sieve the leaves out. But I didn’t do it as I would like to maximise as much as I can out of the leaves. They were still green dyes in them upon close inspection.

good luck. Thank you for reading and dropping by.

How to obtain green dye from Japanese indigo

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