Redbud Flowers - an Eco-Dyeing Experiment


A few weeks back, “Discover Oklahoma” aired a segment about a lady who makes jelly out of redbud flowers.

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She gathered the flowers from her redbud trees and cooked them down to draw out the color. Then used that pink liquid with other ingredients to make jelly. The color in the jar was incredible! It was a magenta pink that seemed to sparkle when she put a jar of the jelly in the window with the sun lighting it from behind.

Oh, I need to dye with this. Really. Right now.

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I took a bowl outside and pulled as many redbud flowers off my tree as I could without getting on a ladder.

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This is the result of cooking the flowers in my dye-pot with water and alum as a mordant. Beautiful. I had such visions of a hot pink for ribbon and paper.

I put the pink liquid in a pan with watercolor paper, rayon ribbon, and piece of new white dishtowel. I let it steep for about an hour.

When I poured off the water and laid out the paper and ribbon, I got a surprise and not the good kind.

redbud eco-dye first result.jpg

The paper was bright yellow! And the ribbon was pale pink. Not so bad on the ribbon, but it got worse. As the ribbon dried, it lost all of its color.


When I threw the piece of white dishtowel in the dye pot with the paper and ribbon, I thought I might have some pretty pink cloth to work with but when it dried it was an awful color; dingy, dirty gray, just like the ribbon.

As a result of this experiment, I’m sad to report that it was a fail.

All of the redbud flowers are gone now, but next year, I’ll try again. But I will change the mordant and use vinegar instead of alum.

The yellow paper is nice though. Really spring-looking.

Carol Webster2 Comments