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From Spice Cabinet to Dye Pot – Turmeric

Turmeric Natural Dye
From Spice Cabinet to Dye Pot


Turmeric is one of those fun spices to have in your kitchen as it can go from spice cabinet to dye pot! It has been used in India for hundreds of years for both its herbal and medicinal properties. In cooking, turmeric gives curry its yellow coloring, adding a peppery, warm flavor. Curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory effects as well as being a powerful antioxidant. Yesterday, I took my jar of turmeric and experimented with it in the dye pot.

I found some cotton bags in my studio that I had purchased for a project several years ago and had never used them. After reading an article about dyeing with turmeric, I learned that it really does not have to be used in conjunction with a mordant. The root of the turmeric plant yields a bright yellow-orange dye. You can either chop and boil the fresh root or you may use the dried root powder. I used the dried ground root as a base for my dye bath, dissolving it in water first, and then adding enough water in my pot to cover the fabric. I first pre-washed the cotton bags and let them soak while I prepared the dye bath.

Turmeric Dyed Sacks
Turmeric Dyed Sacks

Once my dye solution was made, I rolled the bags and fastened them with rubber bands. With two of the bags, I grabbed a small handful of yellow onion skins from my compost bowl and rolled them inside of the bag. I have used onion skins for eco-printing, so I knew they would leave a print on the cotton. Once all bundles were made, I dropped them, and a small piece of silk gauze, into my turmeric dye and let them simmer while I made dinner.

Onion Skin Print  on Turmeric Sack
Onion Skin Print

I resisted opening my bundles until the dye solution had cooled.  The scent of turmeric rose as I unrolled each sack, and by the time I was finished, the room smelled of curry spices. The onion skins made interesting pink markings on the bags. These little pouches will make lovely little accessory and project bags to go in my online shop.

Joining Nicole at Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On.


One Response

  1. Becki

    What an interesting post – and the bags look terrific! I’ve been perusing your blog and am finding it fascinating. It’s a lovely blog that shows a lovely life. :^)