Natural Dyeing with Spruce Cones

Kathryn Davey

March 14, 2023

Dye sources
natural dyeing
follow @kathryn_davey

I’m a author, self-taught designer & natural dyer sharing the beauty of natural dyes and plant based colour with anyone that's interested :) 

Studio News
Natural Colour
more categories

Hi, I'm kathryn

Spruce cones

The Norway Spruce

When it comes to natural dyeing with spruce cones, the process couldn’t be simpler. For my February Colourway, I looked at colours from the cones of the Norway Spruce. The fastest growing of spruces, the Norway spruce, is a common tree in the forests of Ireland.

The bark is greenish or greyish brown, with mature trees showing scales & shedding. The leaves are dark green & needle-like. These needles are slightly curved & smooth, falling from the branches after 2-3 years. The spruce cones are orangey-brown and narrow with rounded scales.

Natural dyeing with spruce cones

The wood of the mountain spruce is firm & durable making it a common choice for timber, furniture, instruments, paper-making, beer & essential oils. Prized by violin makers, they valued it for the resonance it provided. In shipbuilding, spruce woods provided reliable/long-lasting ship masts.

Natural Dyeing with Spruce Cones

As a natural dye source, the branches, bark & cones are used to produce natural colour. As the spruce cones are high in tannin, they make a rich dye that will bind to your fibres producing good results from a small number of cones. Spruce trees are a wonderful dye source & depending on the variety you use, colours can range from tans to pinks, plums & greys.

When natural dyeing with spruce cones, gather the cones from the forest floor throughout the year or after the storm. If they are dirty, give them a rinse and let them dry naturally. Store them in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. To dye with them, add them to your dye pot, cover them with water and simmer gently for 3-5 hours. For an extra strong bath, turn off the heat & let the cones sit in the bath overnight. The next day, remove the cones, your dye is now ready to use.

To learn more about how to get the colours above sign up for my monthly membership, The Colourway.

Comments +

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *