Pomegranate Dye // Canoe

Natalie Davis pounding Texas pomegranate to a pulp for the dye bath.

Punica granatum or pomegranate is eaten for its tart and nutrient dense properties. It is native to Iran, cultivated all over the world and, because it is drought tolerant- grown in Texas as an ornamental shrub. I was surprised to learn that pomegranate inspired the naming of the grenade, from the spanish Granada.

Cotton cloth dyed with pomegranate

Luckily, my neighbors grow 2 pomegranate shrubs that produce bitter fruit and they were happy to gift me inedible fruit for a dye bath. Remember, fruit is not the only indicator of dye color- leaves, branches and bark can also be rich sources of color.

Pomegranates are easy to harvest and fun to break apart (video below). They can be fresh or dried before extracting color. When I first dyed with pomegranate in Oaxaca, the fruit was dried. I soaked them in water for 2 days before adding heat. If you collect fresh pomegranate, I recommended soaking them for 24 hours but if you're limited on time- soaking is not necessary.

Dried pomegranates or la granada, soaking

Dyeing is a good solo activity but much more fun with friends. Natalie Davis is owner/designer of Canoe in Austin, Texas. She is a friend and talented leather worker and came over to test leather in a few dye baths. Watch her break up pomegranates for the dye bath. If you do this at home- wear protective eye wear and protect your work surface from hammering.

I mordanted fabric prior to dyeing and we spent the day testing materials and overdying with cochineal, pecan and indigo. Fabric was for 30 minutes to an hour and hung to dry in the hot Texas sun.


Want to dye with pomegranate but don't have bitter ornamental shrubs for harvest? Visit Maiwa for supplies by clicking here.

Larry Stein, Jim Kamas & Monte Nesbitt. Pomegranates. Texas AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M University, 2010. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fruit-nut/files/2010/10/pomegranates.pdf>

Bonny Wolf. Pomegranates: Jewels In The Fruit Crown. Kitchen Window series, NPR Books, 1 Nov. 2006. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <http://www.npr.org/2011/07/15/6411097/pomegranates-jewels-in-the-fruit-crown>