The Secret of Dyeing with Eucalyptus Bark in 7 Easy Steps

dyeing with eucalyptus bark

Last year I visited Westonbirt Arboreteum and I collected lots of eucalyptus bark. Finally I have found the time to have a play and dye with it. I have looked for guidance on dyeing with this bark but couldn’t find any information so I had to set aside the time to do it myself, record the process I used and the results I achieved.

7 steps to dyeing with eucalyptus bark.

1. I selected my fabric pieces and weighed them when dry so I could calculate the amount of dyestuff to prepare. I choose a mixture of copper and alum mordanted wool, silk and cotton so I could compare the results with the different fabrics.

2. I then decided the percentage of dye stuff (the eucalyptus bark) to the amount of fabric or yarn. I used 100% dyestuff which meant for the 80grms of fabric and yarn I weighed out 80gms of bark.

3. The bark was soaked in water for 5 days to soften it.

4. The next step is to boil it up to extract the colour. I boiled the bark for two hours. Meanwhile the fabrics were soaked in water overnight.

5. The next day I set about the dyeing. I strained the liquid discarding the bark, allowed this to cool and added some more cold water. This was then the dye bath. I added the fabric and yarn that had been soaking in water. More water was added to the dyebath and the fabrics and yarn added. This dye bath pot was brought up to 82 degrees C over 45mins and then kept at that temperature for another 45 mins.

6. I did some further experiments as the resulting dye was rather brown, I took out some of the silks and the wool and with just the cotton and a silk piece remaining I added 2 teaspoons of iron (ferrous sulphate) dissolved in warm water and heated the dye bath until I saw a colour change.

7. The fabrics were rinsed until the water ran clear.

This image shows the results I got, reading from left to right:

eucalyptus dye samples
On cotton with iron after bath, on cotton, on twill silk, on noil silk, on copper mordanted habotai silk, on wool, on habotai silk and on habotai silk with iron after bath.

All alum mordanted fabrics unless noted.

I have some disappointment as we have all seen the wondrous oranges achieved with eucalyptus leaves in eco dyeing pieces, but the bark doesn’t give that.

I will need to try light fastness tests, and see what happens over time. I particularly love the grey brown to the far right on the silk which is the first step in creating a itajime scarf. The little piece of shibori you can see on the far left is a shibori eucalyptus seed head, I will share that in a future blog.

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