It is exciting to consider how many kinds of material beyond textiles can be dyed with botanical color. I dyed wooden beads with blackberry dye and strung them on a length of fabric cord that I dyed steel-gray. Other beads that work for naturally dyeing are those made of bone or other natural fibers like wool felt or silk. Using your fabric dye scraps for a bead cord can be a great way to accent naturally dyed beads.
Porous wood works well for dyeing beads. You can create a deep rich dye bath without heat, since wood readily absorbs blackberry dye. To crush the ripe blackberries, grind them with a mortar and pestle. Blackberries make a dye that is shades of deep purple and maroon on light-colored wood.
Excerpted from The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes: Personalize Your Craft with Organic Colors from Acors, Blackberries, Coffee, and Other Everyday Ingredients by Sasha Duerr, published by Timber Press. Photographs by Sasha Duerr.
Materials and Tools:
-1 oz (28 g) blackberries
-4 fluid oz (118 mL) water
-Mortar and pestle
Crush the blackberries with a mortar and pestle. Put the crushed blackberries in a bowl, add the water, and stir. The dye bath will be thick.
Add the wood beads to the dye bath, submerge them, and soak until they reach the desired color.
Wash the beads with pH-neutral soap, rinse thoroughly, and set out to dry.
Once dry, string the beads with string or thick ribbon and knot to secure.