Elderberry Solar Dye

Elderberry Solar Dye is an easy dye recipe that doesn’t require any special equipment. It’s also an ideal project to do with children, since you don’t have to worry about anyone getting a burn, which is an important consideration with stovetop dyeing methods.

Ashley's had success with this recipe using elderberries, blackberries, black pansies, lobelia blossoms, calendula petals, and more. Have fun with solar dyes! Experiment with different berries and flowers for a whole range of color.

For this recipe you'll need...

  • Glass jar with lid
  • Elderberries (enough to nearly fill the jar)
  • Filtered water
  • Wax paper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon alum powder—alum sulfate for silk or wool or alum acetate for cotton (optional)
  • Cotton, wool, or silk fabric (note that wool and silk will hold the color much better than cotton)

1.Fill your jar to 1 inch from the top with elderberries, and then pour water on top to cover them.

2. If you’re using wax paper, put it over the top of the jar, and then screw on the lid. (this will ensure rust does not get on your material.)

3. Place your jar outside in a sunny spot for 3 days.

4. After 3 days, open your jar and strain out the berries, squishing them a bit to release the color.

5. Return this dye liquid to your jar, and add a teaspoon of alum powder. this is optional, but it will help the fabric resist fading.

6. Screw on the lid and give it a shake to mix it.

7.Get the fabric you wish to dye. You may want to get it wet first so the color will be more even, but it’s not necessary. Put it in your jar with the dye.

8. Put the lid back on and leave the jar in the sun for 3 more days, turning upside down or shaking every now and then.

9. After 3 days, remove your fabric, give it a rinse with water, and hang it to dry.

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