Eucalyptus Dye Recipe

Eucalyptus Dye Recipe

As an orange lover, I was delighted to learn that eucalyptus yields an orange color.  Eucalyptus yields a “fugitive” dye meaning that without a fixative it will fade on exposure to light. Natural dye expert India Flint ( believes that this is part of the process of using and wearing textiles whose color must be renewed…an interesting concept.

Health warning: eucalyptus is a toxin if ingested! And be sure to use only bowls, pots, and tools that are dedicated to dyeing only!

Grackle and Sun’s blogpost:   notes that Eucalyptus pulverulenta
yields orange…and that is what she used in her post.  

Wikipedia notes that there are 734 species of eucalyptus and 3 hybrids. I used an unknown species from my sister’s yard here in the Low Country of South Carolina.  We had a harsh winter and a lot of the branches and leaves that I used had been frozen so they were “freeze dried.”

Dyepot Recipe

6.5 oz oz of eucalyptus, used small twigs and leaves, dried as noted above

I added these to my crockpot which is a dedicated dyepot together with several quarts of water to fill the crockpot.  I confess, I did not measure the water.  At some point the water evaporated and I added another quart. I let this simmer for several hours then cool overnight.

For the dyeing, I used two small skeins of handspun silk, one of which I had previously simmered in an alum mordant dyepot for an hour (see the recipe below).

I simmered both skeins for an hour in the dyepot with the eucalyptus  still in…then let it sit overnight to cool, then let them drip dry. 

Here are the results:  lovely, wonderful…and possibly fugitive…the mordanted on the right  is duller and browner.  Unmordanted, on the left, is probably fugitive, and a fabulous coppery shiny thing.

Mordant Bath Recipe


1) 1 gallon of Bluffton South Carolina tap water (next time I would use warm tap water to reduce the time needed to warm it once in the mordant bath)

2) 1 oz alum

.25 oz cream of tartar was suggested by one website, but I eliminated this as it also said that cream of tarter brings out more pastels but is easier on fiber so I decided to eliminate it…I preferred to not have the color toned down

I doubled the amounts of water and alum to give enough liquid to cover the fiber in the mordant bath

Directions: Preheat your dedicated dyepot and mix water and alum in it, with a dedicated stirring tool. Premoisten the fiber and add, bring to a simmer.  Simmer for an hour then leave in the dyepot to cool overnight.  Parts of my fiber took on a silvery (alminumy?) tone.  The next day, drain. You can reserve the mordant bath for another mordant bath if you wish.

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