Madder comes from the roots of the Rubia cordifolia L. plant. It has been used since ancient times as a red and orange dye for leather, wool, cotton and silk. The roots contain the dye compounds alizarin and purpurin, which give red and yellow colors. By adjusting the pH of the dye bath it is possible to get shades of peachy coral to deep turkey red which madder is so famous for.
For deeper reds also get some Calcium Carbonate.
Made in: INDIA (IN)
Madder Root: certified for organic textile processing
How To Use Madder Natural Dyes
Dharma used a simple recipe to get these great colors with our natural dyes so you can have a reference for the colors they will give.
You can experiment with using Calcium Carbonate for more intense reds or Cream of Tartar for more orange shades. Keep in mind there are many recipes and mordants that will yield a wide range of colors and shades from each dye material, so consult a natural dye book for more on this.
For the deepest colors, use a ratio of 1 to 1 dyestuff to fabric, or 2 oz dye to 2 oz fabric, but you can still get good colors using much less dye. We used about 3-4 tablespoons per yard of fabric. The dyebaths can be re-used to get lighter shades. Experimentation is the best way to determine the right amount of dye for the type of fabric you are using and the color. We found the silk and velvet absorbed the colors the deepest. Some cottons will yield different and deeper shades using Tara Powder (a form of tannic acid) as a mordant with soda ash as an assist.
Yellows can be overdyed with indigo to get shades of green, and reds overdyed with indigo will give purples.
A note about temperature: Keep the madder below 200 degrees, around 180 is best. Any hotter and the red dye compounds will break down and your color will shift towards yellow and orange.
Prewash your fabric with synthrapol, rinse well.
To mordant the fabric (or fiber or yarn) simmer together with 1.75 tsp Alum per pound of fabric for 1 hour. Allow the fabric to cool in the solution. Squeeze out excess water from material. Rinse and discard solution (all the alum will be absorbed by the fabric). You can allow the fabric to dry if you want to stockpile some pre-mordanted material, but you want to use it in about a month as over time the alum can degrade the fabric.
Measure and simmer your dyestuff for an hour using enough water so your fabric can move freely, allow to cool. You may need to chop up larger roots, such as when you use madder. Roots also like to be soaked overnight for some of the darkest shades. This is best done before you mordant or at the same time.
Strain out any roots, shavings, etc.
Add wet fabric and simmer for an hour, allow to cool in dyebath for maximum color absorption. Be sure to stir periodically for even dyeing, turning fabric frequently while simmering. You can save and re-use the dyebath for lighter shades.
Give the fabric a final gentle wash with synthrapol and rinse.