For a quite a while I’ve known that Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) has bright yellow bark and I’ve been keen to test their dye properties. Luckily enough, a few days ago I heard that my neighbours were cutting down their barberry bushes, so I used the opportunity to harvest some bark.
After soaking some bark in water (just enough to cover the bark) overnight.
I let the pot simmer for about an hour before I removed the bark to avoid uneven dyeing and plant matters in the fabrics. Fabrics soaked in water and then immersed. For each test I dissolved less than half a teaspoon alum and iron, and for the copper mordants I used a copper plate (any piece of copper will do, or even a copper pot if available – the old New Zealand 10 cent coin contains copper as well). These mordents help to fix the colour into the fabric.
I left the fabrics in the pot till the next morning and here are the results:
I did some shibori resist dye (ne-maki shibori) on the merino fabric, using kowhai seeds. The yellow of the inner circle seems to be stronger, so I assume that the kowhai seeds released some dye as well, love the delicate pattern.
Through my research I found out that the berries are also edible (a sour taste) and also can be used to dye fibres. I will have to wait till autumn to harvest some of those berries. You will hear from me!
I am really pleased with the depth of tone and will certainly use it for coming projects.