Natural Dyeing: Dandelions & Paper

 Dandelions & Paper. DIY Crafts.

I have recently become obsessed with natural dyeing. There is so much beauty in the colors produced and the process can be very relaxing. It can be time consuming, but this process definitely teaches patience.

I decided to attempt dyeing paper with Dandelions. These flowers can be found all over my yard, so gathering materials was pretty simple.

My first step for this project was gathering the flowers. I chose to use only the flower heads for this experiment, so I (with the help of my son) walked around the yard and plucked all the dandelions we could find. Once finished, we had about a large handful.

The next step was soaking the flowers in water overnight. This wasn't necessary, but I didn't have time to cook them that night, so this was a way to begin color extraction.

 Dandelions (and wild violets) soaking in water.
 Paper soaking in dye bath. Using aluminum pan.

After the flowers soaked for about 24 hours, I moved the bath to a pot on the stove. I heated up the water to a close boil and then simmered the bath for close to an hour. Keep and eye on your dye bath. Overheating can turn the color from yellow to brown very quickly.

I strained the flowers out with a muslin cloth and then added then transferred the liquid to a aluminum pan.

Note: the aluminum pan can react with dye and will begin to disintegrate. These pans are not good for more than a few uses. Plastic containers, like litter boxes, work well for paper dyeing.

I then placed my paper into the bath one at a time and then left it to soak for around two hours.

You can already see a nice yellow tint to the water. Usually the color of the dye is darker than the final result (or it can be completely different). 

When it was time to remove the paper from the dye bath, I placed them in cold water to remove residue. I then laid each paper flat to try. I like to use window screens for my drying surface, they are easy to move around allow air circulation.

 Dandelion dye produced a light yellow hue.
 Result of dyeing book pages in dandelion dye bath.

The paper took about 12 hours to dry and the result was a beautiful light yellow shade. I'm very pleased with the end result.

 Result of dyeing tag board in dandelion dye bath.

I can't wait to play around with these plants more and see what other colors can be extracted. There are rumors that different hues can be made from dandelion roots. Another project for another day.

If you are thinking about trying this project or want to learn more about natural plant dyes there are a number of great resources out there. For some beautiful images and a great list of plants check out the two books below.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. I was not asked to promote these items. All opinions are my own.