Madder Extract | Rubia Tinctorum L.
How to Dye with Madder
Madder Extract | Rubia Tinctorum L.
Madder Extract | Rubia Tinctorum L.
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Madder Extract | Rubia Tinctorum L.

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Madder extract 

 Water-based extracts. 

Scientific Name:  Rubia Tinctorum 

Madder is a perennial plant with evergreen leaves and yellow flowers that is cultivated for its long roots from which the dye is made.  The plants should be at least three years old before their roots, containing the active compound, alizarin, are harvested.  Whilst it is most famous for its red colours, it is possible, by using a variety of techniques, for yellow, orange, red, coral, pink and purple shades to be obtained from our madder powder.

How madder powder is produced:

Our madder powder originates from the Aegean region.  Unlike in concentrated farming, our madder is grown and collected by local experts in a number of different villages, each farmer harvesting the roots carefully to maintain the crop for future years.  After careful checking, the roots are left to dry naturally and are washed and powdered by us here at themazi.

Historical use of madder:

Madder is one of the earliest known dyestuffs.  It was used in ancient Egypt, with evidence of madder-dyed cloth having been found in the wrappings of mummies.  Archaeological evidence of its use has been found in Libya (5th century BCE), India (3rd century BCE), ancient Greece and Rome, and Viking excavations in northern Europe.  In more recent history, the multi-step Turkey Red process was used to dye textiles, taking up to 25 days and involving the use of ash, sheep’s dung, rancid olive oil, tannins, alum and sheep’s blood.  In the 1860s, alizarin was produced synthetically, leading to the decline in the use of madder in the textile industry.

How to dye with madder root powder:

Ensure your fiber/fabric has been properly scoured before use. Depending on the effects required, different mordants may be used.

You can read our blog on scouring and mordanting.

Use 100g madder powder to dye approximately 100g of fiber, for strong tones. Place the powder into a pan and cover with hot water from the tap/faucet, enough to ensure your fabric/fiber can be moved around easily for even uptake of the dye.  Bring the dyebath to 60-70 degrees celsius (140-160F) and maintain at this temperature for an hour.  Add your wet/damp fibers and keep the dyebath at 60-70 degrees celsius for a further hour. If you allow the temperature to get too high, you will get browner/duller colours.  Allow the dyebath to cool for several hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.  If the desired shades have not been reached, you can reheat and cool again.

To obtain more orangey shades, fibers/fabrics can be dipped in a citric acid solution or water with vinegar added after dyeing.  A dip in iron suphate solution will ‘sadden’ the colors.

A second use of the dyebath can often be made, which will result in paler shades than the first dyebath.  Simply reheat the bath and add more fibers/fabrics.  You may even find you can do a third batch.

Citric acid or white vinegar can be added to the spent dyebath, with more fibers/fabrics simmered in this for half an hour for yellow or peach shades.  Note that this dye is highly pH sensitive, so the color may change to pink on washing.

For mauve and purple colors, fibers can be mordanted first with iron sulphate, but if you want to dye reds as well, a portion of the original dyebath should be taken out and the iron-mordanted fibers processed separately to avoid iron contamination in the red dyebath.  Iron-mordanted fibers/fabric should be held at 60-70 degrees celsius as for reds.

Review

Ceilidh has used our madder and she said: 

I discovered themazi’s natural dyes at the beginning of this year. It was the first time I dyed with madder and I was totally blown away by the colour I achieved. Super rich reds when used in conjunction with tannin and lovely salmon pinks when used with alum mordants alone.

Ceilidh is based in The south of France where she does natural dyeing for her brand Billynou and creates YouTube videos about natural dyeing with her partner Alex and daughter Billy.

How do we ship your order?

We ship our products worldwide. Once you enter your address, you can see the shipping cost to your country. We ship with express delivery which means we use TNT, UPS, or DHL carriers.

Please keep in mind that the shipping cost is calculated on the basis of weight including packaging, so it may be beneficial to order more than one product at a time.  You will pay the same shipping fee for 400g of products as for 100g.

Buying madder powder in bulk:

Please be aware that we also sell bulk quantities wholesale. We consider every order over 50kg as wholesale and we offer discounted prices.  To enquire about this, click here

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