Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes

The first time I dyed with natural plant material, it was for Easter eggs. My mother showed me how onion skins can be used to produce a rich, warm brown for plain white eggs. I didn’t appreciate it as much when I was little, perhaps I just had a preference at the time for the electric blues and pinks that come in most egg coloring kits. But now I’m growing an organic garden, and I’m looking for ways to avoid harsh chemicals in many other areas. So when I saw this book, I was definitely curious.

The crafts illustrated in The Handbook of Natural Dyes are gorgeous. The hues range from soft purples, browns, and greys to vibrant yellows and greens. The ranges in the colors produced from certain plants is affected greatly by the mordant (“fixative”) used. The author Sasha Duerr explains everything you need to know, and also provides a number of great ideas for your own creative ventures.

So now you have a great use for any extra blackberries in your garden, coffee grounds, or even old herbs from your spice rack.

The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes, available from Timber Press for $19.95.