Tuesday, July 7, 2009

madder



I am processing madder root for my first batch of natural dyeing for my Home Terrain blanket project. Yesterday, in my giant stone mortar and pestle, I ground the madder root that was given to me years ago by PEI weaver Christine Stanley. I've soaked it over night in water and will let it simmer for a bit today before straining off the roots from the liquid. With the little bit of natural dyeing I've done, I've learned that it is all one big experiment, with many varied results. I've seen different recipes for processing madder root for dyeing, and one even said to let it soak for a whole month. Though I am a patient person, I don't have that much time! So, I'm improvising and creating my own process.

When I was home on PEI this past weekend, my mother actually had a little madder plant seedling for me, given to her by a fellow gardener - sadly, I forgot to take it back to Halifax with me! Madder is a leafy perennial that can be grown in our climate. It takes about 2-3 years of growth before the roots can be dug up for processing as a dyestuff. It is an ancient dye material and can produce reds (rare in plant dyes), oranges, pinks and corals. I'm excited to see what I can get!

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