Midnight blue sloe berries to create dusky blues

Whilst I was pondering the future last autumn, I picked a small bag of sloe berries from the Blackthorn trees along my local hedges and then froze them. The beautiful midnight blue berries are an important winter food source for birds such as thrushes, blackbirds, redwings and fieldfares. So, as with all plant material I forage, I only take a few berries from each tree to produce my natural dye.

sloes berries for natural dye

The berries were gently heated to break down and release their colour. The cooked berries smelt delicious and produced a lovely rich burgundy colour. I strained the fruit through muslin and expecting a wonderful dark pink colour I tested it with a small piece of tissue paper. The paper turned pink but a bit blotchy, so I gave it a quick rinse. Much of the pink was just the fruit residue and washed away but the paper was still a pinky blue. However once the paper was dry, it had turned to a beautiful blue colour more reflective of the fresh sloe berry skins.

The dye produced shades of blue from a deep purple blue to a pale grey blue depending on how long the paper as in the dye.

26 May 2021

Removing bark for dyeing

Removing the bark from pear tree branches with my trusty old knife today. I love this knife, purchased when I went to horticultural college many, many years ago. It brings back interesting memories; I met my husband there, but that’s a completely different story, haha!!

The thin slithers of bark are then air dried and stored ready for use. It’s amazing how the shrivelled up, dried out bark pieces come back to life when they are placed in water and make a lovely peach coloured dye.

removing pear bark

The pear tree branches came from an old tree in one of the beautiful gardens my husband works in. After the tree’s annual prune the branches usually end up on the bonfire but this year I was quick to request some for dye making.

pear tree

23 February 2021