Fukuyuki Yellow Dye workshop

Teachers: Meichi, Yuma
Location: Li-han Studio

At Lihan studio, you can see yarns dyed in various colors with natural dye. We learned how they make yellow dye with Fukuyuki leafs. Fukuyuki (Garcinia subelliptica, 福木, フクギ in Japanese) tree leafs can be used as a natural dye material, and it makes a beautiful yellow color.


There is a big Fukuyuki tree next to the fire brigade, where we could harvest the leafs. We have dressed up in the traditional harvesting costume (the straw hat and the mantle) with basket on our back, and off to the leaf hunting. Meichi told us that we need 20kg of leaf… which is a lot! The bottom half of the tree looked almost naked after we were done with taking leafs.

This is how the 20kg of Fukuyuki leaf look like.

Now all the leafs should be cut into smaller pieces in order to cook for dye. Yes, we did it one by one with scissors… the whole 20kg!

After it is cut into small pieces, we wash the leafs to get rid of the dirt and dust on the leafs.

In the mean time, yarns (rayon, cotton, ramie, mixed fibers) that are going be dyed are cooked in ash water (high in pH, Base) for 30 minutes. This is the preparation for dyeing and allows the fiber to take the dye easier so it gets colored stronger. Then it is rinsed, and drained (we used spin cycle of the washing machine). After it got rid of the excess water, we need to stretch them one by one so the fibers are aligned.

As you can see in the picture, the yarns are looped. Add a string through the loops so when tangled it is easier to untangle them. Also this will help during the dyeing process as you want to move the yarns so that every single yarn gets dyed.

Now we place the leafs in bigger pot with water, and we start to cook them until it boils.

We need to stir the leafs constantly while bringing the water to boil so it does not stick to the bottom and burn. Imagine this is in 30+ degrees, and the gas is just at the bottom of the pot.. it is really hot and sweaty jog!

After it starts to boil, we keep the leafs cooked for 20 min. In the mean time we make the ash water by mixing 300 grams of wood ash (from coles, blackwood, or NaOH = chemical version of ashes) with 2 liters of hot water (for a big pot of 80 liters) till the water is clear. Then leave for 20 minutes till ash has precipitated. Add this water mixture to the leaves, only the “clean” water, so without the precipitated ash. When adding the ash water to the leaf, the water color drastically change into yellow. Boil for another 30 minutes.

Then, strain the water and separate the colored water from the leaf. Remove all leaves from the cooking pot and clean the pot.

Then bring this yellow water (without the leaf) to boil and it is ready to dye the yarn. Drop the yarn slowly into the water, and keep shaking it once in a while so it gets dyed evenly. This has to be done during a time frame of 20 minutes.

This process reminded me of noodles… It needs to boil for 30 minutes.

After boiling, we left the yarn in the dye water over night.

Then we rinsed the yarn untill the water is clear and tumbled dry to get the remaining water out of it.  Hang to dry it.

We made an extra experiment dyeing half of the Fukuyuki dye yellow yarn with indigo dye. You can get very nice green blue color this way. Be sure to give the indigo dyed yarns enough oxygen after dipping to get the blue indigo color.

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