Strong Brew – Willow Leaf Dye

Through what seemed to be an endless winter here in northern Wisconsin, there was a five gallon bucket sitting outside my studio. It’s been slowly brewing dye, and it turned out to be a strong brew.

Bucket of willow leaf dye overwintered.

In late October, I packed the bucket with willow leaves and filled it with water. It froze, pushing the leaves up above the rim. It was covered with snow, and eventually the snow melted.

Cold-brewed willow leaf dye.

On Monday, I finally got around to checking on the bucket. I pulled out most of the leaves, then strained the liquid.

Cold-brewed willow leaf natural dye.

In case you’re wondering, it smells nice — kind of like very strong black tea, which is also what it looks like.

Bundles simmering in willow leaf dyebath.

I popped some silk scarf bundles into a bath of the willow leaf brew. They should be ready to open in a few days.

Natural dye bundles yet to be opened.

I put those willow leaves back in the bucket, filled it with water, and have it sitting outside the studio again. As the weather warms up, we’ll see if I can get another dyebath (or two) with good color and a pleasant fragrance before it starts to stink.

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Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher and explorer, inspired by ancient fiber techniques and all the ways contemporary fiber artists give old ideas a new spin

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