I’m going to burn in hell

If you don’t give a flying youknowwhat about natural dyeing, move on, friend.

Beets, beans, olives, mint, spinach, blackberries,  carrots, cherries, raspberries, red cabbage,. Yum, but not dyes. Really. They are not dyes. Even so called “reputable”, “popular” authors are buggering about now with these. PLEASE please please PLEASE, if you must include these in your book, make sure it is OBVIOUS that these are fugitive/bad/stains only/pointless for using on fabric. Maybe write a book on how to dye Easter eggs instead. Or salt and flour playdough for kids.


I’m not aware of any field of craft anywhere else as “natural dyeing” that advocates the use of bad practice as “play”. Since so many espouse “ecological awareness and sustainability”, how does that balance with the waste of time, resources (water and electricity), materials (cloth and thread) and plant materials? Granted some of these plant materials *are* “waste”, but they’d be better in your compost then, so that you could then grow healthy plants that *do* actually dye. The approach too that “if it fades, it can still be pretty, or dyed again” does no service to the natural dyers who pride themselves on products done well to begin with, that do not need overdyeing after a month, and who have customers who spending their money, expect a little more than “well, i can re-do it when that purple turns to washed out beige”.  (Assuming the customer is able to get the product back to them, WANTS to get it back to them, and then can pick it up again….AND are you going to charge them for the re-dye???? Really?) And is that customer going to trust that the product WILL last this time? Even if you are not selling the item, how many times has the family member/friend worn that spinach dyed toque? Or have they “donated” it to the local charity, or tossed it in a garbage bag going to the landfill, saying “oh so sorry, i lost it”? MORE waste.

When learning to play with different mordants and modifiers, why not use an accredited dye that will actually teach you something about natural dyeing? Just because mint/blackberries/beets react with these chemicals, doesn’t mean a real dye is going to act the same way. Just because a plant is “readily available” does not make it a dye plant. Where is the historically relevant data, where are the extant samples, the light and colour fastness tests results? Artfully staged photos are not “proof”.

Because you can bet if i styled a cantaloupe with some coral silk, or an eggplant with artistically draped purple wool gauze, someone would automatically wax rhapsodic about the beauty and depth of colour, and accept it at face value… I’ve seen it too many times on FB, Instagram and on blogs. Liars.

The claim that natural dyes are “expensive” is specious as well. At the very least, many reputable dye houses sell mixed packs that can give even a novice good results. There’s a system of Cost per Wear, that says if i buy a dress for 200 and wear it once, it cost me 200 that is now gone: if i wear that dress 20 times, it cost me 10 per wear, and i didn’t have to buy a dress to replace it. If i use water, electricity, cloth and beets (for $10 for enough to “dye” with), and the colour washes/fades out, i now add the cost of the water, the electricity, the cloth, the time and the damn beets and it probably comes out to more than 10, that is now GONE. AND i have to redye it or the cloth itself is now wasted. This is “sustainable? This is ecologically responsible?

Is this the “if it’s on the internet, it must be true” mentality? Books can be as bad for information, given the spate of vanity/self publishing now, or from publishers/editors who really don’t know the field, and who don’t care as long as the book sells. Even authors with years of experience and actual research will advise that something didn’t work after all, that the information was erroneous to begin with. (Jenny Dean admits hollyhocks do NOT work as a supportable dye.) And if you’re going to teach, or are avid about less waste, and more responsibility in the textile field, why not promote something that does last, that is proven to be viable. The number of books a person publishes, or what position she/he holds has nothing to do with veracity. (Look at Dr Oz……….) Obviously too, “facts” can be tailored for books, not presenting the whole picture.

We have this little Cult of Personality too, where no one is willing to speak up, to give honest opinions, to present true facts. This means the book/blog/website/class/workshop is free to promulgate more disinformation/folklore/slanted views, and now it’s the Bible, and if you disagree, you are a heretic.

Burn baby, burn. Guess that’s me.

And there’s a new post too about this 🙂

7 responses to “I’m going to burn in hell

  1. Pingback: transparency in natural dyeing | albedo too

  2. Pingback: how to do a lightfast test for natural dyes | albedo too

Your thoughts? (Spammers, good luck on that.)

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.