How to dye wooden beads with natural dyes

Hi Creative Mamas! Welcome to another super fun way of using natural dyes. Today I want to show you how to dye wooden beads using natural dyes in combination with iron modifier.

I am dyeing these wooden beads in order to make tassels using naturally dyed yarn as in the photo below. You can also make jewellery, gift wrapping and accessories!

This tutorial is an alternative to dyeing wooden beads using tempera paint, acrylic paint, wood stain or food coloring and it’s another exciting natural dyeing craft.

For this tutorial I will be using left over dye liquid from cochineal dye, onion skins and logwood.

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Since we are dyeing wooden beads, I am using tannin powder to help the wood absorb the natural dyes.

I am also using iron powder to modify the colors to darker (duller) tones, since I am after an old vintage look for my wooden beads.

How to dye wooden beads tutorial

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Materials & equipment

Natural dyes

The first step is to gather your materials. As I mentioned before I am using leftover dye bath (cochineal and logwood) from previous natural dyeing projects as well as onion skins.

I have a box that contains a variety of different size beads so I will be dividing them in three lots to dye them with the three different dyes.

When choosing your wooden beads make sure that they have a good size wooden bead hole so that you can insert a needle later on.

In this tutorial I am also dyeing some cotton string and raffia string. I am treating all these fibers as cellulose fibers but I am not mordanting them as I would normally mordant any cotton or linen fibers.

The photo below shows the cochineal (far left), logwood dye bath liquid (center), as well as the onion skins which are ready for the color extraction. Tannin extract and iron powder are on the left bottom of the photo.

Place the dye liquid inside a stainless steel pot and add 1/2 teaspoon of tannin extract and 1/2 teaspoon of iron powder.

Place on stovetop. Dissolve well.

To extract the color from the onion skins, place them inside a stainless steel pot and pour water to comer the skins.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 1/2 hour. After this you can leave the onion skins inside the pot and add the tannin and iron powder.

Dyeing wooden beads

This is my good basic method that I have been using to dye wooden beads. Divide your beads into three lots and place them inside the different dye baths.

I am also playing with the raffia and cotton strings so I added them to the different baths as well.

Once the beads are inside the dye bath, bring them to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Let them simmer for at least 1 hour. Make sure that the entire bead is inside the dye liquid.

The following photos are the results after 1 hour of simmering. The photo is the cochineal dye bath.

The photo below is the logwood dye bath.

The photo below is the onion skin dye bath.

Rinsing the dyed wooden beads

Remove the beads from the dye liquid and rinse well. I like to use a strainer for this stage.

Once the water runs clear the dyed beads are ready to be dried. You can leave outside in a sunny spot or you can dry them using a hair dryer.

Cochineal dyed wooden beads

The photo below shows the wooden beads, cotton string and raffia dyed with cochineal dye.

Onion skins dyed wooden beads

This photo shows the wooden beads dyed using onion skin dye.

Logwood dyed wooden beads

The photo below shows the results of dyeing the beads using logwood.

This is the result of all the beads together. They have a matte finish and they all have an interesting low grade shine to them.

You can also see the natural wood grain which makes it super nice!

You can now transform these colored wooden beads in different ways. You can turn them into wooden bead bracelets or a wooden bead necklace.

The photo below shows the beads made into tassels using different color yarn which was naturally dyes ad well.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. You can also dye wooden blocks with natural color by following this same method.

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