If anyone ever tells you pink isn’t period…

..send them to me. There’s no way pink wasn’t period, unless they were calling it something else, like red maybe. This is ordinary wool, linen and muslin cloth all dyed with brazilwood. I used tap water (hard, lots of lime) and was a bit sparing with the chips to water and weight of fibre ratio. My aim here wasn’t to try for a red, but just to take my default to hand ingredients and see what colour came out.


Pink. Definitely pink. I like it though, especially the linen. I’m going to get some undyed silk threads for these experiments too, I think this could be a nice one.

These are all still wet, I’ll add another photo when they dry for comparison.


I’ve read somewhere that easter eggs used to be coloured with brazilwood too, so I chucked an egg in the dyebath overnight to see what happens. I don’t think I’ll chance eating it after mind, it’s just a “FOR SCIENCE!” investigation.

(rainwater update – the weather seems to have been upset with my dissing it for being hot and dry. “Oh, I sucked up all your water did I? Well here, have it all back in 20 minutes. With a lightning chaser or 50”. My next dye project will have all the rainwater my heart could possibly desire)

The stuff I’ve been reading about brazilwood promises wonderful ranges of colour from deep red to purple depending on the PH of the dyebath. I bought PH strips on purpose to mess about with this. I put them somewhere safe, in with other craft things. I remember thinking “oh that’s a natural place I will immediately think of when I go to look for that tiny little booklet of tiny strips of paper”. Of course I have absolutely no idea where I put it.

Brazilwood isn’t named because it came from Brazil. There is a lot of myth about that the dyestuff came from South America and so is late period. But actually the wood came first, in fact it gave the country its name. When I looked it up I was greeted with a photograph of what I consider one of the definitive South American trees, the Bird of Paradise Caesalpinia gilliesii. Brazilwood dye had been harvested from Caesalpinia punctata and introduced from India and Asia for a long time before the Portugese discovered the abundance of Cæsalpinia echinata. The asian variety, the type I’m using, is also known as Sappanwood and is not endangered. The tropical brazilwood from South America is no longer available to buy easily, it is tightly controlled as the source is considered endangered. If you want to know a bit more about it I found this article interesting: https://www.lib.umn.edu/bell/tradeproducts/brazilwood

simmeringSo what I did. Soaked 40gms of brazilwood chips in boiling water overnight, then simmered them for an hour. There was a pink foam and lots of entertainment watching the chips swirl about in the simmering liquid. I’ve since read that the colour extraction definitely takes time with brazilwood, I probably could leave it simmering for longer to get a stronger end result. I strained it while it was still hot through muslin as those bits of wood are a curse to try to seperate from any sort of fibre. I let it cool for a while then added my mordanted fibres, soaked for about 45 minutes. Patience might result again in stronger colours.


Brazilwood chips can be dried and used again, which I will definitely be doing, and changing the pH level will get me orangey colours on the acid side and blue-reds on the alkaline side. (vinegar and washing soda, for example.)

One Comment Add yours

  1. The Middlegate Key says:

    Reblogged this on The Middlegate Key and commented:
    For you fiber types out there

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