Thursday 23 November 2017

Ivy Leaves

My friends, after beavering around in my garden, and brandishing my garden secateurs with malice, I give you Ivy Leaf Yellow, which is really a muted, slightly acid-green. It's an odd colour, but I like it.

It all started with two great big basins full of fresh ivy leaves from the dark, shady places at the back of my garden. A jungle of ivy engulfs my beleaguered garden shed. From time to time I wage war on that jungle, but mostly we co-exist quite peacefully. Every now and then, however, the ivies get a little too big for their boots, and try to colonise one of my trees or sneak out to take a strategic stand in the middle of a flowerbed. Give them an inch and they'll take a mile. They're a cheeky, marauding, badly-behaved bunch.

Anyway, long story short, the fragile peace had been shattered and I had savaged a rabble of straggling vines with my secateurs. Despite my hostility I couldn't help but admire the glossy sheen of the green leaves that lay vanquished at my feet. And then I got to wondering what sort of dye bath they'd make ... .

I carried them indoors, and washed them in the sink to get rid of all the cobwebs and grit that I didn't fancy having in the vat. Anyone looking in would have wondered what sort of weird salad I was preparing for my lunch.

Then I boiled them on a gentle rolling boil for an hour or so, left them to cool to room temperature and strained off the leaves. My kitchen smelt weird. Ivy leaves are poisonous, and when you boil them they've got a smell to match their toxicity. It's not downright unpleasant, but it warns your senses not to drink what's in the pot.

I added some washed and mordanted wool, brought the wool and the ivy juice mixture to a gentle simmer, kept it there for about 15 minutes and then extinguished the heat allowing the contents to cool slowly. I left the wool in the dye bath overnight, before removing it and rinsing it well in fresh water.

And the finished result is an attractive, soft shade of yellow with an underlying glimmer of the green ivy leaves from which it came.

All the best for now,

Bonny x


  1. Oh, I like this colour. What a great idea using ivy leaves.

  2. How interesting that you got a soft yellow shade from green leaves. - I like it though. I must comment that I had never heard the word (secateurs) until recently when I read a British Suspense Novel and the lady worked in a flower shop. Here we call them Shears.