At the Burrow DyeTable # Two: A Little Poke in the Night

Would love ya’all to read this exemplary post on how to dye with pokeberries. Thinking the ideas herein might work for elderberries, too. Dye divas everywhere, especially those at The Wild Dyery (FB) – would you like to take up th challenge? Thank you, Jean, at Grackleandsun

Grackle & Sun

Oh, my friends, have I been harvesting poke.  I’ve been harvesting poke for weeks.  Over hill, over dale, thorough bush, thorough brier, over park, over pale, thorough flood, thorough fire, I do wander everywhere… collecting all the pokeberries I can find.  Well, not all of them.  I left plenty for the songbirds.  Husband lent a handsome hand, as well, because he is all things good.  Happily, despite the drought this summer, there is many much poke.  It is glorious.

And for what do I gather these succulent little berries that cling in clusters on their pendulous racemes?  For dyeing, of course.  To make that dyer’s alchemy happen—to pull colour from one to put upon another.  Transference.  The dictionary defines alchemy as “any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.”  If turning the often (but wrongly)…

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About wendyfe

I am an artist working in mixed media textiles and Artists' Books with a focus on vintage cloth reworked with stitching, natural dyeing, eco printing and rust printing . My work can be seen at
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6 Responses to At the Burrow DyeTable # Two: A Little Poke in the Night

  1. fiberels says:

    They are poisonous !!!!?! The berries the least but roots and the rest of the plant very ….

    • wendyfe says:

      We know that pokeberries are poisonous according to botanical info; however, traditional dyers know how to use the plant safely and abundant recipes and handling advice are available in the literature. The blogger at Grackle and Sun has used the plant appropriately for dyeing and has reported fully on her process.

  2. Mona says:

    I know that post! So funny you bring it up – I just sent the link to this post to a friend, who had luck finding some pokeberries. We have had a lousy summer, so my pokeberries were even lousier – berrywise. And even funnier; I’d just planned on trying out Jeans’ directions with elderberries 🙂

    • wendyfe says:

      Thanks, Mona, and good luck with the poke! I have none in my garden but have seen some hereabouts, Zone 4 USDA…will try the elder, too. Isn’t it fun? Do report!

  3. Mona says:

    Well, I was going to try this with elderberrier anyway, so I’m in 🙂

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