Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 14, Pecan

Posted by Erin Howe on

What's great about writing the word pecan, and indeed the word peony (a word that I use quite a lot), is that you just read those words with whatever pronunciation works for you, instead of snagging up on the one I use. Nice little language workaround there. 

Pecan-Carya illinoinensis

I do not have a pecan tree. Well, okay, I do, I have seven. But they’re three feet tall and I wouldn’t dare start stripping their leaves and small branches to make dye. I should say, I do not have a pecan tree that can spare any leaves and branches for dye. So I was thrilled to find, after a storm the other day, small pecan branches down in a churchyard near my home. I wasn’t much help with the cleanup job, just taking a couple of little branches, but here’s what I found. 

Medium browns from the leaves (of course pecan leaves are a whole long compound affair that I couldn’t fit in my plant square there, so you’ll have to forgive me for misleading you with the two leaflets). And the bark:

Oh! Golds! And oranges with soda. I always do the leaves first because they don’t require three days to soak. Often I’m seeing that the leaves end up greener than the bark. Which seems intuitive, but I’ve found that you can’t assume anything at all with dye. 

A comparison of the two:

Although I didn’t test the overnight dye all the way through, it’s interesting to note that pecan bark dye was shifting toward red:

And I think pecan is one of my favorite dyes so far, especially the gold of the twill ribbon. Grow, little trees, grow!

Procedure notes:Fresh leaves and bark used at 200% weight of fabric/fiber. Bark soaked three days.  

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