Silver Birch (Betula pendula) Berkenblad (NL)
This sturdy and elegant tree with its striking white-silver bark can grow up to 30 metres tall and grows almost everywhere in Europe.
The bark has been used for centuries for making shoes and clothing, paper, roofing, baskets and as kindling.
The sap of the tree is tapped for a medicinal drink and hair conditioner. Fresh, young leaves are edible and can be used to make tea.
We use birch leaves to dye wool and other fibres yellow to light green.
The Silver Birch…
… is also called silver birch
… is found on Texel at the edge of the woods and dunes. They protect the trees in the woods from the sea wind.
… can also be used medicinally. It is diuretic, antiseptic, blood purifying and antipyretic.
… produces nectar which the silver whistle (a solitary bee) uses to feed. This bee, in turn, pollinates the tree.
… does not live very long, around 80-100 years.
… can be recognised in spring by the hanging male catkins and the upright female catkins.
This is one of the natural dye products described in the book Eco-verf by Anja Schrik.
Basic recipe for 100 grams of wool, silk or cotton to dye yellow
– 100 grams of birch leaf
– 15 grams of alum
– 2 grams of tartaric acid
– 1 cup vinegar
– cheesecloth (bag)
– 2 old (cast iron) pans
– (electric) cooker
– apron, gloves
– (glass) pots, buckets or containers
– 2 cups household soda crystals (if you are going to dye cotton)
Step 1: Wash (only if you are dyeing cotton, skip step 1 if you are going to dye wool or silk)
Fill a bucket with plenty of water and 2 cups of household soda and leave your cotton there for 24 hours. Rinse well the next day.
Step 2: Mordanting
Dissolve the alum and tartaric acid in a jar with hot water. Put 3-5 litres of water in a pan and add the mixture of alum and tartaric acid. Soak the wool, silk or cotton in a bucket of water and when completely soaked, add them to the mordant pan. Bring the temperature to 80 degrees (not hotter). Let this simmer for over an hour. Then let the fibres cool slowly in the mordant bath. You can leave this overnight or get started right away.
Step 3: Dyeing
Put the birch leaf in a cheesecloth bag and place it in the dye pan with 3-5 litres of water.
Bring the dye bath to around 80 degrees and let it simmer for an hour.
Lower the temperature to 30 degrees (Tip to speed up this process: put your pan in the sink with cold water) and add the wool, silk or cotton.
You can leave the birch leaf in the cheesecloth bag in the dye bath during the dyeing process. Make sure that the fibres can ‘swim’. Bring the temperature back up to 80 degrees and let it simmer for an hour.
Let the fibres cool down slowly in the dye bath.
1) For better results, soak the birch leaf in water for 24-48 hours before starting step 3. Then pour the decoction through a cheesecloth bag into the paint pan and top up with enough water.
2) For a deeper yellow colour, use 200 grams of birch leaves instead of 100 grams.
3) After cooling, leave the fibres in the dye bath for an extra night.
Step 4: Fixati0n:
Rinse the fibres and leave them in a bucket of water with 1 cup of vinegar for an hour. Rinse well again and hang to dry.
The packaging material we have selected for Oogst natural dyes is made out of agricultural wase.
It is compostable and complies to the EN13432 directives for compostability and is also DIN CERTCO certified.
The package material is suitable for the food industry and helps perserving the materials.
Oogst Natural Dye product philosophy
Tiring of quick-fix culture and instant gratification? Frustrated with the monotony of modern life? Are you yearning to make elegant and stylish products yourself?
Instead of falling victim to the ‘quick-fix’ mentality, take your time and create something relatively insignificant by today’s standards. Get back to nature with natural dyes.
The earth is our most precious resource. It provides everything we need, including the landscape in which we live, the food we eat, the air we breathe. It’s our foundation, grounding us in a steady rhythm of seasons. The fast pace of modern life has shifted what is considered valuable. What we need and even who we are has been redefined by a consumeristic society.
Let go of the impulsive convenience mindset. Break free from the urge to just consume. Create something new, make something on your own – using natural dyes – and reconnect yourself with nature. Discover the pleasure of Oogst natural dyes for yourself, getting back to basics with colours directly from nature.
There is something to be said about the process of creation. It is not only the final product that is important, but what led to its creation. We want you to experience how it feels to make something with your own two hands.
And why should that be complicated? The truth is that for hundreds of years before synthetic dyes came along, common folk were creating their own dyes.
We’re bringing back the lost art of natural dyeing. It’s easy to buy what you need at the stores just like everybody else, but when you dye your own projects you come away with something truly unique.
Explore the possibilities at Oogst.