Dyeing with Mahonia berries

I’ve been walking past this bush of berries for the past few years and whilst flicking through Jenny Dean’s book ‘Wild Colour’ I recognised them and learnt that they are called mahonia berries. I went back the next day to pick a small amount of berries to experiment making a dye. 

The berries give their colour up very quickly and the fabric also takes on the colour quickly. I’ve read that this is a sign that the colour will fade on fabric so this may not be the best dye to use for anything that will be washed, but it was fun experimenting.

This dye is very pH sensitive and the lilac turns to grey when rinsed in tap water. The swatches below show the results of various modifications such as iron water and vinegar.