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I've heard that all those work. I have vague memories of doing a project like this when I was first teaching, but that it didnt go too well - although I"m sure it was me, not the materials. :o


I want to do some tie-dying, but am nervous about it. My idea is to dye some playsilks, but I need to practice on some old hankies or something first.


Anyone an expert on this? Or are you all having too good a summer? :)

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I think you are right Nicola, everone is having too good a summer, although here it is overcast and it has rained today.


Like you, Nichola, I need to practice, before we go back in September. Do I boil the beetroot/onions (with skins) and then let the water cool, then put the material in?? xD Crepe paper probably doesn't need to be boiled - ohhh - I will just have to experiment!! :o or go back to the library or the internet.


Sue J

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I have had loads of fun experimenting with dye stuffs with a year six science club here are some brief notes on our findings.



cut up dye material bring to the boil and simmer until the water is a good dark colour; leave to cool.

put in washed cotton and leave to take up die, this can be helped by simmering again.

rinse excess die and dry (away from sun light); most of the colour will come out so try to get the cloth as dark as possible. You can over dye to darken or change the colour.



red onion skin, blackberries, red cabbage, beetroot all give a pink colour, in hard water some vinegar or lemon juice may be needed to stop the die turning blue/grey adding soap may give a blue die but I have found it fades to grey very quickly

red fruit tea bags give a pink die and an interesting speckled effect can be made by opening the bag and spreading the contents out to dry on the cloth.

coffee, tea, and onion skins will die various shades of brown,

carrot gives orange

turmeric gives a very satisfying yellow, just miximg it with cold water

privet will give a pale green


We found there are lots of natural die stuffs that are fun and safe to use, their main problem is that they are not stable and many wash out and fade quickly, so becareful where you display the finished articles.(the use of mordants can help overcome this but apart from salt these are usually poisonous so no use for early years)We were not very good at being precise with measurements and I'm afraid with natural dye stuffs the results are very difficult to replicate excactly so you will need to experiment.

good luck Fay

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Hi Fay -


Can't add anything to the topic, but I don't think I've said hello on the forums before so, well, hello! :D


And thanks for posting with such useful information. I think we might have to capture some of this natural dye stuff and put it into an article!

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Thanks Fay! What a lot of information.


You must have had fun with your Year 6 science club! I used to love doing activities with the older children. My introduction to them was scarey though - early in my career I was teaching Reception and was asked to teach science to a Year 7 class! I was incredibly nervous the first few weeks, but soon started to enjoy it. In the end, I went and took over as their full time teacher for a term to fill in a vacancy, and thoroughly enjoyed it, although I missed my little ones!


Anyway, welcome, and thanks for the info. Steve, this would be a great article. Maybe eventually with some other kitchen activities too?



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