Natural dye pigments for fabrics

Currently, I’m making some natural dye pigments for fabrics, from my exhausted dye baths. It’s been on my mind for awhile, to use natural dyes with the airbrush.

Safflower, Sappanwood and Madder pigments

The recipe I have used, to make these pigments is a combination of soda and alum. A binder is necessary for the pigment to attach to the substrate. A recommended binder for using pigment as paint is gum arabic. A recipe that I am using is from the book Art & Science of Natural Dyes. This is my go-to book for a variety of information and recipes related to Natural Dyes.

Once I have finalized my pigment recipe, an upcoming post will illustrate my results with natural dye pigments for fabrics, using an airbrush!

My Paasche airbrush

Airbrush examples

Airbrush is one of my favourite techniques. I have used it for several years, firstly on paper and later on fabrics. A goal of my natural dye journey has been to combine dyes with airbrushing on fabric.

Here are links to some of my airbrushed work on fabric, paper and canvas:

Below, is an airbrushed image on cotton, using acrylic paint.

Experiments and Discovery

Working with the primary colours is a good beginning. Since I regularly use Madder, my red will come from that. Blue will be from Indigo and yellow, from Safflower and other dyes. Many dye sources give yellow: marigold, osage orange, goldenrod, myrobalan, pomegranate, to name a few.

By combining these dyes, the secondary colours are easy to create. Also, modifiers can be used to change colours and tones.

As I’m making more pigments, it will be interesting to see how they change in tone, from the original dye colour. Having the primary colours is a good beginning.

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Hi. I'm Maija.

Producer of one of a kind fabrics, I am a Visual/Textile Artist at MaiTribe Studio Gallery, in central Ontario, Canada.

My life and art have been inspired by my travels  to countries such as Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Bali and India.

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