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Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes Paperback – May 2, 2011
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The book is divided into two parts: Part One includes a brief historical discussion of gatherers and dyers, describes necessary materials and tools for natural dyeing, and sets out a "master dye bath" and other general recipes for dyeing. In this part, the author cautions that national and state parks have strict no-harvest rules. However, she notes that national forests allow harvesting for personal use, that water and open-space districts will often grant harvesting permits, and that other sources for harvesting plants exist. The author also explains that she has included no recipes for tin, chrome, or copper-powder mordants (mordants bind the dye and fabric tightly), because widespread discarding of the metallic leftover dye water could quickly lead to unhealthy concentrations of these toxic metals in local soil. Clearly, the author is highly dedicated to the cause of environmental preservation, but her informative text is gentle in tone, and neither preaches nor communicates any "eco-politically correct" sense of superiority.
Part Two, which makes up the bulk of the book, describes the individual dye plants, and is organized by the four harvesting seasons. Each plant has its own mini-section, which includes (1) a U.S.Read more ›
Each featured plant is discussed and accompanied by a photo of the entire plant, often within its native habitat. Information about time to gather, how to cultivate, and parts of the plant to use for dyeing fibers are included, along with generous photos of yarns dyed in the colors obtained from each plant, and a map of the United States highlighting where the particular plant can be found growing in the wild.
Burgess brings her high standard of environmental consciousness into the book, stressing the importance of the choices we make in what we use as both consumers and artists. She discusses mordants (substances used to 'fix', or keep the dye in the fiber or fabric for the long term), and only advocates using materials that are non-toxic, both while in use in the dye process and when the wastes are disposed. She also addresses the benefits of working to source your raw materials close to home, and how involvement with natural dyes can help you help grow a strong local economy.Read more ›
I can still use some of the recipes in this book with the plants in my area and it gives a pretty good explanation about various baths and whatnot. I will use this book as a jumping off point, but I wish that I could use more of the recipes.
I have to say the pictures are wonderful, the layout is simple, it's well written and everything is explained very well. There are even a few craft projects in here to give you some inspiration on what to do with all that yarn and cotton and everything else you're going to be dyeing.
My only complaint is that it mostly focuses on plants found in the South-west, in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. Plants like sagebrush, tumbleweeds, and prickly pear cactus. As I live in the Mid-west, in Ohio, most of the plants in the book don't grow in my area unless you cultivate them, which is not a big deal for some of them, but others really won't do well without a greenhouse. On the other hand, there are plants that you can find everywhere you look up here, like Poke berries, Ironweed, and Goldenrod.
I would still recommend it to anyone interested in getting into herbal dyes, though, since most of the plants can still be planted and grown here.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this as a Xmas gift for my mother who does a lot of dying of wool fabric for making fabric hooked rugs. She really enjoyed it. Read morePublished 10 days ago by nycmedstudent
This is a great book for dying fabric with natural colors you can get from naturePublished 1 month ago by K. Robbins
reads well and i appreciate the insight and history. used to live in california, now in michigan so a lot of the plants aren't accessible--- but, a lot of the techniques and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by onelove butterfly
Love the recipes, and the great instructions. I like that it's organized seasonally, as that way I know what needs to be gathered. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Marlene
not exactly helpful as I would like an expensive book like this to bePublished 6 months ago by Glenda Parks
You wanna dye yarn using plants you can find anywhere...get this bookPublished 8 months ago by B. Rickman