Natural Color: For The Daring DIYer


Coming from a complete beginner’s standpoint, one thing that gives me hope is reading that “extracting dye colors can be easy as brewing tea.” That’s something I can definitely do, so when I get extremely inspired or when I happen to have the raw materials easily obtainable, I wouldn’t mind going the plant dyeing route. At the author’s project idea of a Rothko inspired painting with Onion Skin, it got my attention. I happen to appreciate Rothko even when to some, his art looks like measly rectangles. That is the beauty of art; the only thing in this world for me that provides room for subjectivity. I might try it since Onions are easily accessible which makes it a plus and I really don’t mind channeling my inner Rothko, maybe with some other polygon though. After all, I am an artist in my own right.

What opportune time to have this book when I have the perfect project to execute dyeing techniques on an orange dropwaist cotton/linen blend dress I made which has a slight discoloration at the front. Being that it’s made with natural fibers, the Kohl stain set in with the fabric’s color which made my attempt at rubbing it off cause the discoloration. It’s not entirely bad but with a keen eye, it’s quite obvious. Now that I have Natural Color by Sasha Duerr, maybe I can learn a technique or two on how to fix the affected area by doing a spot treatment, and if that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll resort to dyeing the whole dress in a darker shade altogether. After all, I don’t mind going that route since I actually like various shades of orange from Amber, Pumpkin, Cinnamon Spice, all the way to Rust. I just love those warm colors. She happens to mention the color I would like to achieve using the Madder Root Dye.

Truly helpful are the techniques for fabric painting. I do my own garment construction and to be able to embed my own designs onto a fabric would be elevating my creativity to the next level. There’s a quick run-through on steam printing, block printing and dip-dyeing to achieve an ombre effect to name a few. I also like how the author classifies the color palette achieved with various plants into seasonally appropriate project ideas.

Who wouldn’t want to learn techniques on how to color things with natural pigments? A word of caution though, one would have to be a serious textile and environmentally conscious enthusiast to appreciate this book and a really dedicated one at that because the procedures and methods can easily discourage the average person who has no background whatsoever. I’m a Do-It-Yourself kinda person but some look to be too tedious even for me, a seasoned DIY-er (my apologies if I sound less modest but I’m merely stating a fact). Imagine someone who isn’t.

It’s an interesting read especially about the environmental aspects of obtaining raw materials for the dye preparation, plant origins etc. apart from the actual procedures and techniques but from the looks of it, if you don’t live in a farm or haven’t grown your own stuff for this process, this can definitely be more on the expensive side as you literally have to go out of your way to obtain the exotic components. For this reason, I can honestly say I have no problem resorting to buying Rit Dye at the local craft store. I like the book, it is beautifully crafted and has nice vibrant pictures and great ideas but I can say it’s definitely not for everyone.

[This is my unadulterated review for a complimentary copy of the aforementioned book which I received from Blogging for Books ]