• Sasha Geerken

Day 7: Madder Root Dye

My last day of my week of dye experimenting! I was the most excited to try madder root and I’m so happy with how it came out.

Madder is a perennial climbing plant with evergreen leaves and small pale yellow flowers. The roots can be over three feet long, and are usually harvested in the second or third year of their growth. Considered an ancient or heirloom dye plant, madder has been used throughout history for the brilliant orange and red hues it can produce - the alizarin and purpurin constituents in madder root create rich colors ranging from orange to bright red. Textiles dyed with madder have been discovered in archaeological sites, tombs, and graves dating back to the ancient Egyptians and the Mohenjo-daro site!


1.) Put your Madder Root in a stainless steel pot and cover with enough water to allow your fiber to float freely once you add it. If you have whole roots, let them soak overnight in water before putting heat to it. I used madder root shavings/powder.

2.)Bring your burner to a medium/low heat and keep at a simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

3.)After your hour is up, add in your fiber and stir often to make sure there are no trapped air bubbles, and that the color is dyeing evenly.

4.)Let your fiber soak in the dye bath for about an hour. Tip: To redden and deepen the color, add calcium carbonate (Tums or chalk!)

5.) Once the color is where you like it, rinse with room temperature water and hang to dry out of direct sunlight

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