Natural Dye — Bark Contact Prints On Silk

Years ago, I left damp bark from a basketry project rolled up in a dish towel in the fridge, thinking I would start another project with the leftovers “soon”. You know how that turned out. When I finally opened it again, the bark had stained the towel — and I loved the marks it made. My process now is a bit different because, really, my refrigerator is scary enough. And barks are among my favorite contact dye materials. The bark bundles I mentioned last time are making it into my Etsy shop as table toppers in a new shop section, Eco-Friendly Home.

Bark-dyed table topper by Donna Kallner.

I sew these table toppers from silk noil (raw silk), using silk thread. In the dyebath, the plain white thread takes on the colors of the other materials to match the eco-printed fabric. The piece at the top included white pine bark and willow bark.

Natural dye with willow bark dye on silk, with white pine bark soaking.

To dye it, I began by soaking the stitched table topper in diluted white vinegar, then wrapped the fabric around damp bark. The bundle mellowed for a few days before going into the dyepot.

Bark bundles left to mellow.

The color and marks from the bark transfer to the fabric, dyeing both sides of the piece where the plant material comes in contact.

Speaking of contact, I haven’t been very good about staying in contact with my lovely blog readers lately. We’re moving my web site and e-course site to a new server, and doing some other behind-the-scenes work that’s necessary but not very interesting. So I’ve been making more quick posts on Instagram. If you’re over there, you can follow me as donnastitches. But to recap, lately I have…

Bracken harvested to dry for natural dye.

harvested bracken to dry for winter dyepots…

Wool-silk yarns dyed with goldenrod, hops and dock.

… and dyed yarn with goldenrod, hops and dock…

Natural dye fermentation experiments with hops and staghorn sumac drupes.

… and started some dye fermentation experiments with hops and staghorn sumac drupes. I’m not sure how successful these will be, but you never know unless you try, right?



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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