Acacia Wood/Wattle

Acacia is a rich source of tannins, so a mordant is not necessarily needed, and often, acacia is dyed with iron to create grays and blacks, or it can be overdyed with indigo for muted greens.

Acacia dyed without the addition of iron, results in beige colors with a pink tone to them, and I’ve seen more of this pinkish tone on cellulose fibers. To obtain blacks with Acacia, dye with Logwood and iron.  Logwood has long been a necessary natural dye for achieving true blacks, especially for Victorian mourning clothing. 

Cochineal can be dyed with tannins and an acid instead of the fibers being premordanted with alum.  So, Acacia makes a great source of tannin to dye with a bit of cochineal for some peachy pinks.  Historically, Cochineal was dyed with tannin containing leaves and citrus for the acid, and renowned natural dyers have said that the lightfastness of fabrics dyed this way, are as lightfast or more lightfast than fabrics that were alum mordanted.

Acacia is a good source of tannins and has been used by the tanning industry, but the plants/trees are very widely useful and many different parts are used for a variety of uses. 

Acacia is a large genus of shrubs and trees and are commonly referred to as wattles or acacias.  They grow in Africa, Brazil, India, China and Australia. 

Acacia should be used as a tannin bath on pre-scoured cotton at 15-20 grams per 100 grams of cotton fiber, and then follow that tannin bath with a Aluminum Acetate bath at 7-10 grams per 100 grams of cotton fiber. 

To use Acacia as a dye on cotton, scour and pre-mordant the cotton with aluminum acetate, then use 20-30 grams per 100 grams of cotton fiber. 

Below, I mention the easiest way to mordant wool with alum, for reference, but Acacia is a rich source of tannins, so a mordant is not necessarily needed, and often, acacia is dyed with iron anyway.

Mordant cellulose fibers with aluminum acetate, and wool and silk with alum, or try aluminum acetate for a brightened effect on wool. 

The recommended amount of aluminum sulfate to mordant wool is between 10-15% of the weight of fiber, but an easy thing to remember is to just use 1 scant Tablespoon for 100 grams (3.5oz skeins) or 1 good Tablespoon for 4oz skeins of fiber. You can go up to 20% of the fiber weight, or 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon per 100 grams (3.5oz) of fiber. More mordant results in deeper shades with many of the colors, especially the red dyes.

Cream of tartar should be 6% of the weight of fiber, or 1 1/4 teaspoons for 100 grams (3.5oz) of fiber. You can use aluminum sulfate and cream of tartar together. The cream of tartar brightens many colors and helps keep wool fibers soft.