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Dye With Alkanet

ALKANET – Alkanna tinctoria

Alkanet produces shades of grey, lavender and purple colours. The colours achieved are beautiful with moderate lightfastness.

Common name – Dyer’s Bugloss. It is a herb in the borage family.

The roots contain anchusin – a red-brown resinoid colouring matter.

It is not soluable in water, but is soluable in alcohol, chloroform and ether.

It was used for colouring oils, lip salves, soap and for giving colour to mahogany furniture. It was also used to improve the appearance of low quality wines and ports and give an aged appearance to corks.

To dye;-

Cover 100g of dried roots in cheap vodka and leave for about 2 weeks to extract the colour.

When the liquid has developed a strong colour, strain off the liquid into the dye bucket and then add enough water for the intended dye material to be fully submerged and flow freely. 

Add the pre-wetted mordanted fibres and heat up gently to just below simmering – no more than 140 degrees F. Hold at that temperature for 45 minutes to an hour. Turn off the heat and leave to cool until comfortable to handle. Rinse. Wash in a pH neutral soap. (Soapwort). Rinse. Dry out of direct sunlight.

When mordanting – use alum mordant at 15% WOF for protein fibres. For cellulose fibres mordant with tannin at 8% WOF followed by allum at 15%.

Adding iron to the dyebath at 2% WOF creates a range of greys and grey – violets.

Use dried alkanet at approximately 75 -100% WOF for rich colours.

Alkanet is sensitive to pH value and mineral content. Some people use de-Ionised water.

Buy dried alkanet root here

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