Blue Dye from Chicory?
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Peggy Kruger
Posted on: September 7, 2000

I am writing for information re making blue dye from chicory. My brother in law in Germany has a great deal of expertise in creating natural dyes and he is very interested in the possibilities with chicory. He has had no success so far in getting the colour he wants. Your website has conflicting opinions on whether or not it is possible to make this blue colour, so I wondered if you could clarify this.

We checked our collection of natural dyeing books and articles and we cannot find any reference to chicory producing a blue colour. Most books do not mention chicory as a dye plant.

The Richters 2000 catalogue says: "Leaves yield a dye of clear blue colour, much like the colour of its lovely daisy flowers." Where this information came from we do not know as this was written many years ago and the original research notes are lost.

One of the few books to mention chicory is Anne Bliss’ "North American Dye Plants" (Interweave Press, 1993) in which she says the stems, leaves and blossoms gathered in mid-July yield the following colours depending on the mordant used:

* mustard yellow (alum)

* brassy gold (chrome)

* yellow-green (copper)

* bright yellow (tin)

* forest green (iron)

* creamy biege (no mordant)

She also says that chicory is lightfast, with no visible fading occuring when exposed to light.

In a previously posted "Q&A" ("Natural Dye from Wild Chicory"), I wrote that Canadian natural dyer, Karen Leigh Casselman, says that chicory can be used as a dye, but that blue is not one of the colours. It is this information and the catalogue description on our website that conflict, as you have pointed out.

We have revised our catalogue description to reflect the information that we can currently back up with references. Thank you for drawing this problem to our attention. We apologize for the confusion this has caused.

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