Dyeing with kowhai flowers

I have been resisting dyeing with kowhai flowers up to now because all parts of the plants are poisoning but also because the nectar is a preferred food source for tui and kereru. As I get more and more interested in natural dyes especially from New Zealand and flowers were abundant this year I decided to test the dye on a variety of natural fibres (silks, wool, muka and linen).

kowhai dyeing by Birgit MoffattFreshly picked kowhai flowers

kowhai dyeing by Birgit MoffattSoaked in water for a couple of days

kowhai dyeing by Birgit MoffattBecause of the strange smell I did the boiling and dyeing outside.

kowhai dyeing by Birgit MoffattSamples with alum as mordant, not very bright although I like the shades which can give a beautiful subtlety on silks.

kowhai dyeing by Birgit MoffattSamples dyed with a piece of copper plate, not much different from the alum mordant samples.

kowhai dyeing by Birgit MoffattSamples with iron as mordant, almost a taupe shade. Quite a bit disappointing as I expected much stronger colours but there are some nice shades among them.


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