Natural Dye Plants and Seeds:

Putnam Hill Nursery is located within our fibershed and provides natural dye seeds and seedlings.

Blue Light Junction is also within our fibershed and sells indigo seeds seasonally. See our fibershed story about BLJ here.  

Bedhead Fiber is located in Seattle Washington. They sell dye plant seeds.

Fedco Seeds is located in Maine. They have some dye and flax seeds.

Natural Dye Books: These are the books that we find to be the most helpful to get started with natural dyeing. You can click the links to go to Amazon, or you can buy them through your local independent bookstore.

Wild Color by Jennie Dean This is a resource that many of us continually turn to. I love that there are dye plants that you can find locally and also dyestuffs that are only found in other countries. I also really like that there is information about the uses of various parts of the plants: bark, roots, berries, leaves and flowers. So you can use all the plant and get interesting palettes of color.


Indigo, Madder and Marigold by Trudy Van Stalen This was the very first natural dye book in our libraries. In this book, there are examples on different fibers. I love looking and reading the lovely text of this book.


Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess This book is by the founder of Fibershed. She not only gives you great recipes for natural dyeing. But she also writes about responsible harvesting.




Journeys in Natural Dyeing by Kristine Vejar and Adrienne Rodriguez This book is so fun!! I love that the author’s traveled to countries where interesting natural dyeing is happening including Iceland!! They then bring the information home to American and help us to bring these principles into our natural dyeing as well. There are many, many sample photographs and really helpful information.



The Art and Science of Natural Dyes by Joy Boutrup and Catharine Ellis This tome is for the scientists in our natural dyeing world. While there are many, many recipes in this book. The real information is about the specific chemicals that give the dye stuffs their color. And with this information you can tweak your own recipes to get the colors that you want.

Handbook of Indigo Dyeing by Vivien Prideaux This handbook gives so much information about making a few different vats. There is also information about shibori (Japanese Tie-Dyeing) and a whole section of projects. If you are interested in creating an indigo pot this is a valuable resource.

A Weaver’s Garden by Rita Buchanan This is one of two books by Buchanan about dye plants. This book also has sections on growing fibers like linen and cotton. There is information on acquiring plants and seeds, planting, harvesting and some dyeing information as well.

Lichen Dyes: a New Sourcebook byKaren Diadick Casselman I found out about this book from Judith MacKenzie McCuin.  It is a great resource for finding, identifying and dyeing with all kinds of lichens. I have yet to find a good source of lichens here on the farm, but when I do explore some more, I’ll be using this resource.

A Rainbow Beneath My Feet by Arleen and Alan Bessette I do not have this book yet. But I will be getting it soon. It is the only resource out there that I’ve found for dyeing with fungi.

Eco Colour by India Flint This book is for those who want to try their hands at printing fabric with plants.

Natural Dyes on Wool with Timber Creek Farm by Janet Garman is a great resource for our fibershed. Janet is a member of our Chesapeake Fibershed community and this book is a great resource for dyes you can forage, or find in your pantry.

Botanical Inks by Babs Behan This book title is a bit misleading in that it actually an excellent general reference for plant dyeing with natural fibers—she touches on ink making too but that is only a small chapter. It is beautifully illustrated with very clear discussions of mordants (plant based and mineral), assists and color  modifiers.  She gives a nice picture of the types of dyes we can glean from plants—adjective, substantive, vat based and fugitive. Behan introduces the Fibershed movement, sustainable practices and her own involvement in the Bristol Cloth project, a locally sourced cloth project in the UK.  The book also offers project ideas that take you into eco-printing and making your own plant based inks and water colors.  It provides accessible recipes and a glossary of dye terms. This book is v very readable.  It will benefit beginners and advanced dyers.

Make Ink: The Forager’s Guide to Natural Inkmaking by Jason Logan  For a gem of a book on ink making from plants foraged and from kitchen waste, we highly recommend this book, It encourages you to try out new plants that you can forage from your landscape. And emphasizes mindfulness when it comes to forage from the natural world. Simple recipes for making inks from plants.

Historical Books:

The Perfect Red by Amy Butler Greenfield  This book details the history of cochineal.

Indigo: In Search of the Color that Seduced the World by Catherine McKinnely Indigo is the story of this precious dye and its ancient heritage: its relationship to slavery as the “hidden half” of the transatlantic slave trade, its profound influence on fashion, and
its spiritual significance, which is little recognized but no less alive today. It is an untold story, brimming with rich, electrifying tales of those who shaped the course of colonial history and a world economy. (From the book blurb)

True Colors by Kevin Recker This book is all about the world masters in natural dyeing. It is a “coffee table” type of book with beautiful photos and great stories. This is not a how-to book, but rather a celebration of the roots of natural dyeing.

Red, White and Black Makes Blue by Andrea Freeser This book reveals the contributions of enslaved Africans and Native Americans to the use of Indigo in the Americas.

Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd This is a historical novel based on the life of Eliza Lucas who is thought to have brought the cultivation and the understand of indigo dyeing to S. Carolina from knowledge gleaned from enslaved Africans.


The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair Such a fun book that relates the history of so many colors in fashion and art.  This is a book you can dip into when you are in the mood.

List of Dye Teachers: (coming soon)
Online Resources:

Maiwa is a Canadian purveyor of natural dyes.  They have extensive free resources about dyes and dyeing. They also have tutorials showing various methods they use.  You will find it here.  Maiwa has several e-courses in natural dyeing. You can find information about those here.

Botanical Colors is an American purveyor of natural dyes.  They also have a huge number of resources on methods of dyeing with natural dyes as well as projects to complete.  You will find it here. Also check out their Feedback Fridays. This is a bi-monthly meeting where they have interesting guests to discuss many natural dyeing topics. Find videos of the past meetings here.

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