We have a huge mulberry tree in our front garden that is just coming into season. Immy will eat mulberries (actually, any berries!) by the bowl full and we all really love this time of year. Unfortunately, late last week we were hit by quite a big storm and I was devastated to find so many of our precious berries lying damaged on the ground. I was determined not to let them go to waste and immediately started researching ways of making natural dye from berries so that we could have a go at making our own dye to use in a variety of art projects.
Making Natural Mulberry Dye
1. Gather your berries. We collected enough to half fill a large pot.
2. Add water. As I was hoping for the strongest colour possible, I only added enough water to just cover the berries.
3. Simmer. I simmered the berries over a low heat for an hour and a half.
4. Strain. We strained the liquid through a metal sieve three times, until I was satisfied that the liquid was clear enough for our purpose. I did however read that straining the dye further through a piece of muslin will help to ensure that all of the berry pulp has been removed.
We ended up with about 4 cups of lovely, rich maroon coloured dye that we will use in a number of art projects. I found this information at Pioneer Thinking about making natural plant dyes most helpful and would love to experiment with making other plant dyes.
The very first use for our mulberry dye was making a batch of homemade mulberry playdough!
Homemade Mulberry Playdough
Into a large saucepan add 2 cups of plain flour, i cup of salt, 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. My favourite regular playdough recipe calls for 2 cups of water to be added to the pot but I INSTEAD used 1 1/2 cups of the mulberry dye and 1/2 a cup of water. I could probably have just used 1 cup of dye and 1 cup of water but was aiming to maximise the intense colour.
Stir over a medium heat until the mixture congeals and forms a ball, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and knead until the dough is smooth.
Once cooked, the mulberry dye did not stain hands or our laminate tabletop. I would however suggest using a plastic tablecloth or placemat if working directly onto a wooden surface.
Add fairy stones, googly eyes, coloured matchsticks, pipe cleaners and sparkles to create a fabulously fun invitation to play.
I am looking forward to sharing our other arty experiments with mulberry dye. Have you ever made your own natural dye? Do you make your own playdough?