FRIDAY FACETS – Bark it up 2

A while back, I shared my first adventure with bark dyeing.

Preparing this particular dye is very tedious. The bark should preferably be free of any critters and soil, and has to be broken up into small pieces. Then it needs to soak in stagnant water for a few weeks, with a few stirs every once in a while and topping off the water as needed.

Then the mixture has to be brought to a boil and simmered for a few hours. I added a fairly large amount of iron mordant.

Kimberly Baxter Packwood, who is the inspiration for my dyeing experiments and whose tutorials I consult frequently, mentioned that iron mordant will result in a blue dye color. You can see her work on her website or facebook page.

The smell of simmering maple bark that has been sitting in stagnant water for weeks is not a pleasant one, let me tell you! Imagine wool socks worn for a week straight in ski boots, a rotten egg, and your teenage son’s gym equipment boiled together. There you have the smell!

After simmering, the mixture is strained through a sieve to catch even the smallest solid parts.

I started with a pillow case and a tie, one shibori tied, the other one clamped, and let them soak overnight.

The resulting color was not the expected blue, but a nice silvery grey. Very elegant. Probably did not use enough iron mordant. I will try again!


For the second batch, the dye bath was already exhausted, so the resulting color this time was a pale beige, similar to my first experiment where I did not soak the bark long enough to extract all the dye.

I want to try oak bark next to see if it yields a different color.

To see what other artists created this week, visit Friday Facets here!