We have gotten questions about how we manage to get such bright red color with madder on wool. We thought we would should share the recipe that works for us.
100%! We use as much madder as the weight of the goods we dyes. If we dye 100g of goods (goods = yarn or fabric) then we use 100g of madder.
In order to get a good color, you need to plan your dyeing.
1. Good madder- buy madder that is powdered. It simply gives more colour than the cut root pieces. There will be a lot to clean up, but it’s SOOO worth it.
2. Soak the madder in lukewarm water. A minimum is 24h. If possible, let your madder soak for 3 days. It can go moldy but this does not affect the color. However, be careful not to inhale the mold spores. Soaking over time can start a fermentation and then the colour will get a more cold red tone and pull more towards the blue direction. Do not filter off the bath, keep everything in the dye bath. Also add one beer to the soaking bath. If you like you can also have a beer to drink.
3. Mordant. We use only alum as a mordant. 30% of the weight of the goods. Pre mordanting is the thing, don’t put dyestuff and mordant in the same bath, this will dull the colour.
1. Insert the soaked madder solution and your gods into the dye bath. Heat slowly up to 68-69 degrees. Maintain this temperature for at least 2-3 hours. Stir frequently. The madder powder sinks to the bottom of the tub! It will also get stucked in “pockets” in your fabric.
2. Let the goods cool down in the bath, preferably overnight- but watch out for pockets!!
3. Take up the goods. Shake out excessive madder back into the dye bath.
4. Allow the goods to dry before washing.
5. Shake the dried goods to get rid of your madder powder. We usually do this over a big plastic sheet. Preferably outdoors! Make sure to cover your mouth and nose. It’s dusty!! The madder is put back in the dye bath.
6. Rinse the gods until the rinsing water is clear.
Use the dye bath for the after bath. You can dye as long as you think it gives color. A lightly dyed fabric and be over dyed with a fresh madder bath, starting with a apricot dyed fabric, instead of a white, will give you a stronger red.
/ Amica and Maria
11 thoughts on “Bright red with madder”
Farenheit or Celsius?
Celsius. Sorry. Should have wrote that.
I am not quite sure what to do with the Mordant. Could you eleborate?
Solute alum in a small amount of hot water. Pour it into the Mordant bath. Put in the gods. Heat up to 85-90 degrees Celsius. Keep the temp 1h. Let cool in bath. Done
Do you find the pH of the water affects your colour? I get really good oranges in the U.K. but really struggle with darker reds. My favourite method is hot rocks in a wooden tub heating the dye bath to a warm bath temperature.
Water with a lot of chalk is difficult to dye red with. Save rain water!!
We have plenty of that 😂
Beer? What kind of beer do you use?
Pilsner or ale.
Fascinating. I’ll try that next time I’m dyeing with madder. I love my madder colours, but I’d really like to get a brighter red. You also keep the dye bath slightly cooler than I have in the past , which may also be a factor.