Time for Tansy

by Marie Williams July 17, 2019 12 Comments

Time for Tansy

Part of the joy of dyeing is being able to use plants from our garden, and one of these is the tansy that we put in around our fruit trees as one of their companion plants. Tansy is one of the most mineral-rich of all herbs and adds good levels of potassium to compost, or used as we do in ‘chop and drop’ where the plant material is used as a mulch and helps to prevents weeds as well as rotting down to benefit the tree.

I used its lovely button flowers and fern-like leaves throughout the past Summer in my eco-prints but until now hadn’t got around to using the dried plant material I’d harvested a couple of months ago - thrown into the carport in a hurry, it now looked like it should just go on the compost, but just in case it was still okay, I boiled up a small pot full and this is what it looked like. By boiling up only the flowers by themselves next summer I should get a much stronger yellow.

I left the plant material soaking overnight, and once strained put a pre-mordanted silk crepe shawl and a small Paj silk scarf in it for a day and got this wonderful buttery pale yellow. This is how it looked once washed and dried. I then had to decide whether to eco-print it... Of course I had to!

I wanted to see if I could leave quite large areas in the yellow, so for the crepe, chose some leaves including ash leaves that normally don’t impart any colour as well as the amazing red toned autumn leaves from our liquidambar tree, marguerite daisies and wonderful purple African daisies that give those amazing blue tones. For the smaller Paj silk scarf I arranged the leaves from the castor oil plant for their awesome shape, and some little Japanese maple leaves. By using an iron transfer blanket on the top of the scarves during the steaming I knew that the surrounding area (fingers crossed) should turn a light sage/olive green.

Tansy is an excellent dye plant, well known for it lightfastness. Containing apigenin and luteolin, the same yellow dyes that you find in weld - a plant that has been used for dyeing for centuries.





Marie Williams
Marie Williams

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