Sunday, September 18, 2011
Comfrey: Part 1, Natural Dyeing
Then it was neglected. Ignored. Abused, even. Poor thing.
But here's the deal: These things don't die. They are some of the toughest plants I have ever seen. Seriously. When I put in the veg garden, I laid gravel walks. I dug up one of these that had been in the middle of the path and put 4 inches of gravel on it.
It lived. It thrived. It grew up through the gravel and stayed put. It didn't die even this summer when it was 9 million degrees and the sun beat down on it for months at a time. I'd like to be that tough.
As you can see in the pic above, these are beautiful leafy plants. They have a wonderful flowers and some day I'll find my photos of them and show you. Hopefully by the time I write up Comfrey: Part 2, Medicinal Herb. Hopefully.
The pics aren't great, but they give you an idea of what we got. Lovely sage greens and tan!
Notice that the samples on the left are a lot lighter than the samples on the right. You're looking at the difference between how this particular dye takes on cellulose fibers [left] and protein fibers [right]. With comfrey, it makes a big, big difference. With other dyes, like osage orange, it isn't nearly so noticeable.
Next time we try it we're going to use alum acetate to treat the cellulose stuff to get better colors. Fingers crossed!
Comfrey dyes more than just fibers. I've been reading up on using natural stuff to color hand made soap with and comfrey is the most recommended material to use for green. Here's a tutorial at soap-making-resource.com.
By the way, if you haven't looked at Jenny Dean's Wild Color website, go there now! You'll find a wealth of great information and beautiful colors from all kinds of natural dyes.