Wool felt is a material used from automotive industry to kids’ felt boards or even tennis balls. Simple said, wool felt is made from wool on which moisture, high temperature and pressure are applied.
While felt can be made from different materials like acrylic or polyester, nowadays using natural plant dyed wool felt is a “greener” method to a crafter for producing from pincushions to purses or modern hats.
Using plant dyed wool felt for manufacturing assure a flexible and pleasantly texture while the colours have a natural beauty which comes from the plants used for dyeing. People are using plants as primary source for fabric dyeing for ages, therefore some words about this method have to be written down. What plants can be used for wool felt dyeing? Which colours come out from different plants?
Even if it the simplest way of dyeing is by using chemical dyes, it is more ecological and creative to produce own dyes from fields or gardens, using only nature’s gifts: the plants. So to begin with, let’s see which plants can be used for creating dyes.
Brown and yellow are two easiest colours to be obtained from plants. For acquiring brown colour, Black Walnuts’ husks are the best out there while no mordant is needed for creating a permanent dye and the wool felt will not become paler in time.
On the other hand, wool felt enrichment with a brighter colour like permanent yellow can be achieved from Goldenrod. However, for using this plant as a colour creator a mordant must be used to make the dye “stick”. Commonly found in fiber preparation shops, alum with tartaric acid is probably the best and safest mordant around. Likewise cream of tarter from supermarkets might be used, sometimes obtaining a cheaper price than from the specialized shops.
For dyeing wool felts in orange, onion skins are a good choice. Same mordant as for the Goldenrod should be used and with a grocery bag filled with onion skins many pounds of wool felts can be coloured.
Dyeing wool felts in green is achieved when using spring collected young ragweed or fiddlehead ferns.
These are the most commons plants used for natural dyed wool felt, although more might be used with good results also. Berries can be collected for magenta colour, though this dye will become paler in years transforming into a strident brown-orange; yellow and orange are also achieved from marigold or zinnia flowers.
Of course, mixing flowers might create some interesting coloured wool felts, although not knowing the exactly measurements might deliver various shades from one operation to another. On the other hand, manufacturing plant dyed wool felts can become a fun and creative operation while playing with natural, ecological plant dyes.