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Nature's Colorways

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Discover astonishing sources, colors, and stories of natural dyes worldwide, from the soil beneath your feet to the petals of common flowers to a few new tricks from the extraordinary indigo plant. 

For a Stone Age technology, natural dyeing is evergreen. The pursuit of color is so important that it has been a skilled profession for millennia, from printing and batik in northern India to iron/tannin processes known as mud dye in Africa and Asia to the carefully documented recipes used in early industrial London. This book explores the rich cultural traditions of natural colors from around the world and introduces new ways to explore natural dyeing for yourself.

Set aside the complicated or smelly chemistry of the indigo vat and explore a simple way of coaxing color from fresh leaves. Learn safe methods to find the elusive colors hidden in lichen, a wonderfully odd composite organism. Get out a hammer and smash some plants onto fabric to make intricate plant prints. Save some rusty metal and create a bold design when you combine it with tannins. Get out a seed catalogue and start planning a world-class dyer’s garden, or toss some onion skins, tea bags, and pickling alum in a saucepan and dye loops for a potholder to use proudly.

Much of what we hear about dyeing comes to us through received wisdom or hearsay. This collection invites you to question everything you know about natural dyes, from what a mordant is to what’s possible with indigo to how to get the colors you’ve dreamed of onto your cloth. Join us on a journey around the color wheel and beyond.