The dyeing of fabrics is the logical continuation of the human attitude consisting in affirming its membership, but also its individual distinction, by tattooing, the painting of the face and the body, scarification... Clothing hiding the major part of the body, those became a means of expression of this attitude. Rising from discovered mineral pigments obtained by crushing and allowing the expression by rupestral drawings, the vegetable dyeing allows the colouring of fabrics or wire by cold or hot steeping in decoctions of plants. To dye textiles is a human concern since millenia, and the pigments dyes are legions in nature. Thus the techniques of dyeing are relatively simple and accessible. This activity reveals the range of the colours used by the men of all the times. It is accompanied by a discovery of the flora starting from an herbarium, at the time of the gathering of the tinctorial plants necessary. If the technique is simple, obtaining a desired hue request several experiments. As of the Average Age, are set up field crops of certain tinctorial plants giving of the rare hues. Thus, the red and blue resulting from the gaude and the pastel, will be the subject of an intense trade, before the appearance of the chemical pigments.

 Three Steps to Dye

 1. The purpose of the first, the chromate finishing is to prepare wool to receive the dyeing. After washing, the textile fibres will boil during one hour in a bath of water containing the corrosive one in dissolution. These corrosive (alum salt, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda, chromium plates) slightly will erode fibre surfaces some so that the color comes to be placed there in-depth. This operation is necessary only for the dyeing starting from fruits, of sheets and of bays, the presence of tanins in the barks and the peels make it possible to obtain hues, nevertheless often less sharp that when the wool is stained.
 2. Then comes the decoction from the plant: whole, or only one part (sheets, flowers, roots) according to the plants and the desired color. The proportion is approximately 3 kg of plant for 1 kg of wool to dye in 15 to 20 liters of fresh water. This mixture must boil one hour at one hour thirty then to rest a few days.
 3. The decoction is then filtered, through a hessian, above a cauldron under which is lit a fire. The dyeing starts. The wool is plunged gradually in the bath which one gradually carries to slight boiling during one hour at one hour thirty. Finally one lets cool wool in the bath and one lets it dry in the shade.

Dyeing examples

 Stained wool

 No stain



 chêne (écorce)



 brun foncé

 pommier (écorce)

 jaune paille



 prunier (écorce)

 brun rouge


 vert délicat

 bouleau (écorce)

 brun pourpre



 aulne (écorce)




 noyer (écorce)



 orange vif



 One can plan to dye wool hanks or cotton parts. However, this textile has less of affinities for the vegetable dyeings than wool and the results are less spectacular.
 It is thus enough to plunge the wool hanks with the selected plants (the mixtures are possible but the result is sometimes unexpected) in a pan filled with water which one slightly makes boil during a good hour then that one rinses and lets dry in the shade. It should be noted that the material of the container can react with the hue, thus copper revives the hues, iron obscures them the hues obtained are thus varied and the often impressive results for the little of required efforts, the difficulty undoubtedly residing in the purchase of new wool and the harvest of certain plants. Though it is it is undoubtedly possible to obtain hues starting from the plants or parts of the most unexpected plants which are, so... BON COURAGE !