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Dying With Stinging Nettles
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John Curry
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Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 48

Real Name: John Curry

PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:15 pm    Post subject: Dying With Stinging Nettles Reply with quote

I did a little primitive dying demonstration over at Fort Harrod this last Saturday and one of the things I dyed was a really nice, brand new, handsewn frock I bought about a year ago, with a bunch of STINGING NETTLE I'd gathered off one of the little branches on my farm. I'd read about using stinging nettle somewhere or another so I mentioned it in an article I wrote for Muzzle Blasts last year and never thought that much more about it until this lad came up to me at The Feast Of The Hunter's Moon last October, wearing this beautiful Green hunting frock with very subtle, brownish gold undertones and thanked me for writing all about the stinging nettle dye!?! HA! I was blown away. I'd forgotten all about it and that frock just looked tremendous... So I tried it my self over at the fort last Saturday and man oh man did it ever come out nice! Green... green... green! (Do I sound pleased?)
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Bruce
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Joined: 05 Jun 2010
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Location: Pool's Fort on the Kings River
Real Name: Bruce Black

PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How much nettle did you need to gather?
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Ty Davis
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Joined: 12 Apr 2010
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Real Name: Ty Davis

PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey John,

Will you post some pictures of it?

Thanks,

Ty
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John Curry
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Joined: 27 Jun 2012
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Real Name: John Curry

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Bruce, I have a ton of stinging nettles along one of the little creeks on my farm so I must have gotten maybe 12/15 pounds of it... Enough to fill one of those white, tall kitchen garbage bags about half full. Might have been a bit of over-kill though. But hey! They're free! So just collect 'em with gloves and long sleeves, chop everything up to maybe 6 or 8 inches, stick 'em in that garbage bag and then give it a go.

The deal is though; you have to use alum and cream of tartar as your mordant. (At least that's what the recipie I found said to use.) And it also said that you can turn it a brighter shade of green if you use copper - so my wife has a nice copper pan that she uses whenever we go to the Vincennes Rendezvous or the Eastern or someplace like that and after I boiled the nettles up real good; I fished them all out, put in the alum and cream of tartar, and I then just stuck that copper pot down in the bottom of that fairly big iron pot there at Fort Harrod and let my frock simmer for like an hour. I kept stirring it pretty good. Whole thing took maybe a couple of hours... And WOW did it ever make my frock smell good! I didn't know whether to wear it or eat it.
BTW, stinging nettle looses all its "bite" after you boil it.

Howdy Ty, I am so proud of that darned frock pardner... I'd love to post some pictures of it, but I don't know how to do that sort of thing. And I do all my e-mailing from our library here in Harrodsburg so I don't actually think you can post pictures from here... But I don't know. I'm so technologically challenged in these matters.
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Le Poilu
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:54 pm    Post subject: Stinging nettles dye Reply with quote

John,

I'm interested in giving this a try but I've got a few of questions:

1) where can I find this recipe?
2) or can you write it down for us here?
3) how much alum & cream of tartar is required?
4) and what is your source for these ingredients?
5) does the copper go in at the same time as the mordants or is there an interval in between?
6) is the copper pan harmed(discolored, etc...) by this process?

Thanks,
Charles
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Wahkahchim
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Joined: 29 Jul 2010
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Real Name: Peter Andresen

PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How bright a green is the result?

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Bruce
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Joined: 05 Jun 2010
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Location: Pool's Fort on the Kings River
Real Name: Bruce Black

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John, Thanks for the info! We have nettle out here, but usually in small patches through out your yard, orchard vineyard etc.
I'll have to get ambitious and start harvesting...
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John Curry
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Joined: 27 Jun 2012
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Real Name: John Curry

PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey everyone,
I'll try to answer as many of these questions as I can:


I've pretty well given you the recipe on my post of July 27th, so check that out. If you still have any questions, don't hesitate to give me a shout.

You can find this recipe and several others in their entirety along with all my source documentation in (I believe) the August 2011 issue of Muzzle Blasts.

For the nettles, I used a whole bottle of one of those little "spice type" bottles of Allum and another of the Cream of Tartar. These can be purchased in the spice section of any Wal Mart.

I put my wife's copper pan in before I even put in the nettles, boiled them and I left it in until after I finally took out the frock. I'm sure clean copper wire or copper scrap or shavings would work just as well.

Actually, the copper pan was a bit discolored and darkened BEFORE I used it but came out looking all shiny and brand new! Go figure!?!

When using the copper as a mordant, the green is verrrry green... sort of like "pea green". Actually it was a bit too green to suit me so I overdyed it with a rather weak solution of chestnut oak bark which sort of "saddened" it and gave it a nice, light shot of biege. Now its a sort of a vivid, olive drab kind of hue. I liked it before but I really like it now.
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Le Poilu
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Real Name: Anonymous

PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:46 pm    Post subject: Stinging nettle dye Reply with quote

Thank you for the details! I'll be sure to look up that issue of MB & give it a go. I know just where to find some, I slipped & slid downhill thru a patch of it once, while wearing shorts, I'll never forget that spot!
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Scott Allen
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Joined: 25 Jun 2009
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Location: Boonsboro, MD on South Mountain
Real Name: Scott Allen

PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Curry wrote:

And WOW did it ever make my frock smell good! I didn't know whether to wear it or eat it.
BTW, stinging nettle looses all its "bite" after you boil it.


John,
If it weren't for the alum (big pucker/drymouth factor) you could've at least eaten the nettles. They are great boiled up with some hog jowl or salt pork thrown in!

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John Curry
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Joined: 27 Jun 2012
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Real Name: John Curry

PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah Scott, I'll bet! (Yer makin' me hungry.) Seriously though, it really did smell very appetising after I was finished, but I kept telling myself; "John, now you know this frock's way too darned expensive to eat." And another thing; you pick those dead, dried-up leaves off of the still-standing, stinging nettle - like in November or December... boil 'em in hot water for maybe 20 minutes and it makes the best tea you'll ever taste! I've been told it has more vitamin C than orange juice too, but ya know what? I just plain like it... Try it some time - it's good.
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steve welch
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Joined: 27 Aug 2012
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Real Name: Steve Welch

PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've no experience with dying with nettles but I been in the stingin' nettles before and thought I was dying ! ha ha
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John Curry
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Joined: 27 Jun 2012
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Real Name: John Curry

PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HA!!! Me too! No kidding though, that frock turned out n-i-c-e!
I'll have it with me up there in our camp at Ouiatennon... You'll have to check it out.
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Mikey S.
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Joined: 05 Jan 2013
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Real Name: Michael Schmitzerle

PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John,I truly enjoy your writings in M.B. I especially enjoyed the piece you receintly did in this latest issue of Muzzle Blast.
The timing was perfect, as i'm heading to the great white north here in Michigan for our annual winter trek. I agree with most of what you wrote about primitive camping. But i'm not going to debate with you on that right now 'cause it's just not that big of a deal.
When I get back i'll do a write up on our experiences and try and send some photos with it.
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John Curry
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Real Name: John Curry

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Mikey! Glad to see you're back in the middle of the frey!!! Always happy to here from others about how they approach the wilderness. I just write from what I've been taught and what I've managed to learn but hey, I'll be the first to tell you I don't know all that much. I just pass along what I've managed to find out and what works for me... sort of "monkey see monkey do". Give us all the details of your upcomming endeavor upon your return to civilization.
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