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

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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. Read More!

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.