Natural Dye Study with Catharine Ellis

Supply List

Aya Fiber Studio

This class is focused on gathering information and the study of process. Our work will be relatively small in scale. You are encouraged to bring materials that are familiar AND materials that you would like to experiment with. The primary focus will be on cellulose fibers and silk.

2-3 yds. 100% cotton fabric, washed and ready for dyeing. Mercerized cotton or “ready to dye” cotton is recommended, as that will not require scouring.  Scouring instructions for “other” cottons are included below.

2-3 yds silk fabric

You are welcome to bring special fibers or fabrics or collected natural dyes that you would like to experiment with.


  • ·         Rubber gloves
  • ·         Apron
  • ·         Scissors
  • ·         Fine point black sharpie
  • ·         Double stick tape
  • ·         Notebook (for taking notes)
  • ·         3-ring binder for samples
  • ·         Printing tools (small silkscreens, printing blocks, stencils, brushes, etc.)
  • ·         (optional) Simple shibori tools (needle, thread, clamps, etc.)


Instructions for scouring:

This recipe is intended to remove wax, dirt, and spinning oils from cellulose fibers


·         Neutral detergent at ≈1% w.o.f.

·         Soda ash at ≈1% w.o.f.


1.       Fill a non-reactive pot of a size suitable for the textile with warm tap water. Allow enough room for the textile to float freely. Always leave enough room for the textile to be moved during the process.

2.       Add the detergent and soda ash and stir until completely dissolved. The resultant solution should be at a pH 8-9.

3.       Place the textile in the bath and immerse it completely.

4.       Slowly increase the temperature to a gently boil (100°C /220°F)

5.       Maintain the temperature for 1-2 hours.

6.       Periodically move the textile in the bath, making sure that it remains completely immersed at all times. Add additional water, as needed, to maintain the liquid volume.

7.       Cool the textile in the bath.

8.       Rinse the textile thoroughly.

9.       If the used scour bath is very dark or dirty, repeat the process.