While wood has a natural appeal on its own, you may want to spice up its appearance with a splash of color. The use of paints is always a classic option, but for a more natural and old-school appearance, you may want to use natural or homemade products for adding color to the dull brown of wood. This is not only safer and less toxic, the use of natural ingredients also helps protect the environment while making your wooden works more natural appearing. Dyeing wood naturally is not a complex process, although it takes a little more preparation than simply using paint. Just follow these instructions and you can easily use natural ingredients to dye the wood.
- Prepare a working space for the wood. It is advisable to use a long table for preparing your tools – you will need enough space for the wood and your dyes. Make sure you cover the table with old newspapers, and have dishrags on standby. Change into your work clothes before starting on anything.
- Gather all the ingredients you will use for the dyes. The natural herbs and fruits that you should get depends entirely on what color you plan to dye the wood. You can create rich blue dyes with blackberries, blue berries or any blue/indigo/violet plants, while you can give the wood a richer and fuller shade of brown with gypsy wart, sassafras and walnut hulls. To get that green tint, use red onions skins, shrub clippings or even lily of the valley flowers. Yellow can be achieved with turmeric powder, saffron and apple tree bark while you can get shades of orange with beet root, heather and marigolds. Finally, you can get a pink or rose shade with elderberries, rose hips or sorrel. If you want a simpler solution, you can simply purchase unsweetened drink mixes at your local convenience store.
- Start the preparation of natural dyes. Again, this will depend on what kind of herbs or fruits you’ve gathered. You should add 1 tsp of alum to the mix of berries, to make sure the color keeps. If making rose or lavender dyes, boil these in a small pot with water and keep adding vinegar until you achieve your desired tint. You can make deeper and richer orange dyes by adding more herbs to the boil. For those rich blue colors, the ingredients must be allowed to soak for a night before being brought to boil the next day. If using the unsweetened drink mixes, simply mix and match to get the color you desire.
- Dye the wood. There are no limits to the number of coats you can apply. Just make sure to cover the wood completely and soak the wood in the dye as much as necessary. Each coat must be dry before a second one is applied. You can place a sealant to make sure the colors last longer.
Using natural dyes may be a labor-intensive process, but it is a technique that has been used by people since ancient times. This will not only allow you to have a deeper pride in your work, it will also make the wood you’ve dyed look more natural.