I love cymbidium orchids as statement-making accents and some of these deep tones are showstoppers…
I’m completely giddy over today’s post! Emily from Fleuropean spent lots of time experimenting and perfecting a technique for dyeing silk ribbon on our behalf and the results are amazing! Hope you enjoy the fruits of Emily’s labor as much as I have. Welcome, Emily…we’re so honored to have you on the Brouhaha today!
Hello there, Botanical Brouhaha buddies!
My name is Emily. I’m a Californian-born gal turned Belgian farmer-florist. Although some of you might know me through the Lonely Bouquet movement, I mostly keep busy growing lots of flowers for my floral business, Fleuropean. In addition to endless experimentation with new seeds and floral combinations, I love a good indoor challenge… it makes those rainy days so much more bearable. So when Amy caught wind of my dabbling in natural homemade dyes and asked if I’d be interested in sharing my experience with you guys, I could barely blink before writing back with a resounding “yes!”.
If you’re anything like me, romantic ribbons and flowing ties are half the fun when it comes to hand-held bouquets. Sometimes, however, it can be tricky finding just the right color… or maybe that perfect ribbon you’re eyeing is a bit beyond your budget? With oodles of elderberries ripening on the bush, I couldn’t help but wonder how the deliciously dark fruit would work as a DIY dye. Luckily I was the proud new owner of a recycled silk chiffon ribbon skein… the opportunities were (almost) endless!
Hovering over my steaming cauldron, stirring the bubbling, boiling concoction, I felt a bit like a wacky witch cooking up some magic potion. The experimentation started with elderberries, but the array of goods both foraged and found that ended up in my kitchen grew exponentially after Amy’s inquiry. All of a sudden avocado skins, spices, grapes, cabbage, and garden greens found themselves stuffed into pots and pans. You’d be surprised at the rainbow of ribbons you can produce!
Admittedly, the dye-making process is quite simple. For the most part, it consists of several easy-to-follow steps: 1) Bring water to a boil, 2) add key color ingredient(s) and let boil for several minutes, 3) reduce to a simmer for roughly an hour, 4) strain out the solids, 5) add ribbon to your dye, 6) bring to a boil once again, 7) remove from heat and let stand for as long as you’d like, sometimes overnight to let the color fully develop, although I found that adjusting the proportions of dye ingredients to water used is the best way to play around with color saturation, 8) rinse with cold water until the water runs clear before, finally, 8) hanging to dry. Pre-treatment with a mordant (alum, iron, etc.) will most likely increase color vivacity and color-fastness. I didn’t have any, though, and the ribbons turned out just fine… I just wouldn’t leave them soaking for extended periods in water.
If you’re not happy with the final result… *ahem* your curry turns out neon yellow? You can always double dip in another dye bath. I found that double dipping a bright yellow curry ribbon in an elderberry bath resulted in a beautiful caramel color perfect for autumn.
Just to give you an “illustrated” step-by-step tutorial, I’ll take you through the process of dyeing a batch of ribbon in a bath of avocado skin infused water. Who knew that rough and lumpy avocado skins could produce such a lovely shade of pale peach?
Emily sent us a gorgeous gallery of her bouquets tied up with the ribbons she dyed. See the dye ingredients listed below each series of the photos. They’re stunning!
Dye ingredient (3 images above): avocado skins
Dye ingredients (3 images above) : curry, cumin and double dipped in elderberries
Dye ingredients: curry & cumin
Dye ingredient (2 images above): elderberries
Dye ingredients (4 images above): red cabbage & grapes
A final thought from Emily:
In case you should be after any other colors of the rainbow, here’s a Botanical Brouhaha Brewer’s guide to natural dyes. I’ve added a star next to ingredients that I used for the ribbons in this tutorial. There are lots of other natural ingredients to be found, so don’t be shy about experimenting with whatever looks like it could be fun… keeping in mind that some plants are poisonous, of course.
I can’t thank Emily enough for taking the time to experiment and record all of this for us! If you have questions or need clarification on anything you’ve seen here today, Emily has invited you to ask away! Simply leave her a comment at the end of the post.
To learn more about Emily, The Lonely Bouquet & Fleuropean:
Can you believe it? Today is our 50th session with the Expert Panel! I’m so grateful for the generosity of this panel in offering advice, sharing openly & honestly from experience and sacrificing time from their busy schedules to invest in our industry.
How far in advance do you make the bouquets for a wedding? Boutonnieres/corsages? Centerpieces? What (if anything) do you design on location?
I do the majority of my designing the day before the event. Bouquets are done late in the afternoon the day before the wedding or the morning of. Sometimes more fragile elements are added to the bouquets hours prior to the ceremony so everything stays fresh. I wrap all the bouquets the day of the wedding. Boutonnieres are done the day before but the stems are often kept long so they can remain in water–I clip the stems the morning of the wedding and finish them off with ribbon or twine. Centerpieces and large arrangements are done the day before and stored in the cooler. On site I will add vines and more fragile flowers to arrangements that may not transport well and I always bring extra blooms to tuck into arrangements for final touches.
Elisabeth Zemetis (Blush Floral Design)
I do bouquets the morning before a wedding and bouts/corsages late in the day. Or, the morning of, if it’s a late ceremony or we aren’t having to travel far. The only things I would do onsite would be large arrangements that wouldn’t transport well, or things like ceremony garlands (in some cases I can start the design and then complete it onsite).
The latest I make any of the pieces is the day before the wedding. Occasionally if I have a sensitive flower, I will make boutonnieres the morning of, or right before I deliver to the venue so they can be as fresh as possible. Everything else [bouquets, centerpieces etc…] is usually designed in water or foam, so it has a water source and will be ok if made a few days prior, and we just keep a close eye on the water supply. We do design some pieces on location if they’re more difficult to transport already made and we have enough time at the venue. For example, floral that needs to be designed on an arbor or pergola – we usually zip-tie the foam cages to the structure, and design right on the spot.
Liz Rusnac (Liz Rusnac Floral Design)
I always make the bouquet the day before and then I keep it in the cooler. If there are some extra fragile flowers, I might add them the next morning. Boutonnieres/corsages are mostly done late afternoon or evening the day before, then I spray them with water and place them in a plastic container with a lid and then in the cooler. Centerpieces are always made 1-2 days before and the only thing I do on location is adding trailing pieces or things that have to be added afterwards due to transport.
I always do as much as I can the day before in the studio, the only things I do on site are those things that I technically can’t do in the studio.
Usually we start with centerpieces, two days before the wedding. Then large pieces that we call “buffets” here (big urns for example) come the day before the wedding together with bridesmaids’ bouquets. The bride’s bouquet and boutonnieres are made the morning of the wedding (usually I wake up in the middle of the night… I can’t help but do that!) for them to be extra fresh. There are of course elements that cannot be prepared and transported in advance and are designed on location, for example ceremony arches or garlands. We also do weddings that are way too far from the studio to be prepared in advance, in this case we travel with the flowers and design everything on location during 2 to 3 days.
Laetitia Mayor (Floresie)
The majority of wedding flowers are made the afternoon/evening before the wedding. There is simply not enough time to make everything in the morning. However all wired shower bouquets, buttonholes, corsages and cake flowers are made on the morning of the wedding. I also bind and finish all the bouquets on the morning of the wedding. All of our ceremony urns and table vase arrangements are made at my studio and transported to the venue. I construct all candelabra designs, archways and chuppahs on location.
Nick Priestly (Mood Flowers)
On Wednesday we make the first sample of each design for each wedding, this is done after we process. We verify that our look is correct and that our recipe is strong. We spend the rest of the day getting organized or adjusting our recipes. Often we can’t make our samples on Wednesday because product is delayed or rejected. In that case, we have to verify the look of the design first thing on Thursday morning. Designs that are being created in vases of water are also started on Wednesday if time allows. We really try to hold off big production until Thursday, especially designs that are going in floral foam. Maids’ bouquets and centerpieces often get done on Thursday and then bridal bouquets are created on Friday or even Saturday morning. Bouts and corsages as well as designs in small containers like igloos, oasis garland or oasis cages are saved for Friday as well. We try to have everything done or at least started on site. Arbors, chuppas and entry ways all need to be designed on site but we have started numerous designs in cages, igloos, or garlands so that our task is easier on site. Elevated designs that have cascading dendrobium orchids or Phals get their flowers on site. Tall designs of open cut callas are also often designed on site.
Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers)
Flowers: Kelly Kaufman Floral Design
Photos: Jose Villa Photography