Portrait of Sierra Roberts
by: Sierra Roberts

Natural Color, new book by Sasha Duerr

Natural Color

Did you know that you can use onion skins for dyeing? Have you ever seen the different shades of pink you can get from avocado pits? Author Sasha Duerr describes the nuances of color you get from these and other common plants in Natural Color, the latest addition to our dye library.


Natural Color  Natural Color

I was recently lucky enough to attend two dye classes here at Halcyon – Natural Dyeing and Indigo Dyeing, both taught by the super knowledgeable, very cool Jackie Ottino Graf. These classes were incredibly informative, and I came away with enough information (and inspiration) to finally approach this craft more seriously. Prior to taking these classes, I was openly confused and befuddled by mordants and modifiers. Let me tell you, I wish I’d had this book!

I wouldn’t go so far as to say one book, however well written and beautifully photographed, could teach you as much as spending time with a professional dyer – but this one comes close. Organized by season, Duerr highlights a range of plants and demonstrates the many hues each plant can yield. With easy to follow descriptions of the different elements used to create a natural dye bath, this book can help demystify the process for beginners as well as serve as a great reference for more seasoned dyers.

Not only does Natural Color include a wealth of information – Duerr also provides quite a few projects that will almost certainly inspire you to give dyeing a try.


Natural Color  Natural Color

In the above project, Linen pillowcases become a beautiful study in blue to pink gradients when using avocado pits. Adding iron to the dye bath turns it from shades of pink to shades of lavender and gray. Duerr gives you a list of materials needed and step by step instructions on how to do this and all of the other projects included in this book. That was especially helpful when I saw this:

That’s a leather bag! You can dye leather! Alternately, you could use cotton canvas, linen or hemp fabric. Duerr tells you how to dye your piece of leather (or fabric) using purple-leaf plum tree branches, then sew it together into a fashionable bag. Don’t care for sewing? Duerr shows you a few options for altering already made clothing, like this child’s dress (below) that was dip dyed in oxalis (also called sour grass) flowers, leaves and stems.

In the world of natural dyes, indigo is pretty unique. I can totally understand why an entire class could be dedicated to this plant, as it has so many nuances and such a rich history all over the world. The beautiful shades of blue are color-fast, withstanding many washings. This makes it a great choice for sheets and other linens that require frequent laundering.

Using a combination of dip dyeing and shibori, Duerr shows you how to create your own bohemian bedding. Don’t worry – she explains how to do each technique in detail. I must admit, at this point in the book I have officially decided to only ever buy white, natural fiber textiles from now on. I love the big impact indigo has on large pieces of fabric, and I just want to hang these all over my walls!

Speaking of walls, check that out! Using sweet gum leaves to create a watercolor wall wash, this is then applied directly onto your wall (or watercolor paper or other textile). I love accent walls, and what a cool way to do it.

Following the excitement of all these projects (there are way more than I have mentioned, mind you!), Natural Color has a chapter on different mordants and modifiers. All of this scientific process is explained, with special attention to conservation of water and resources. Everywhere in this book, you will pick up advice and tips for making every step of this process as natural and gentle on the environment as possible.


This is a large book, and no space is wasted. Each turn of the page reveals a beautiful color, plant, or project that will make you itch to give natural dyeing a try. Natural Color is a wonderful tome of knowledge, and it’s lovely enough to leave out on the coffee table. Great for beginners and experts alike, this book will make a welcome addition to any dyer’s library.

A few more favorites for your collection of colorful tomes…


Natural Color  Natural Color

[item= 57290400,book] Wild Color[item= 57040300,book][item= 57040200,book][item= 57161000,book][item= 57290300,book][item= 57260000,book][item= 57210000,book][item= 57340100,book]


Wild Color  Wild Color



Related items of interest: • Dyeing Books