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Osage ~ Getting Started

Natural Dyeing with Osage

Radiant. Bright. Cheerful.

Osage Natural Dye to the rescue!


Grown in the southern states of the USA, Osage is one gorgeous Natural Dye that truly illuminates whatever fiber and fabric it colors.

From the heartwood of the Osage Orange Tree (Maclura pomifera), Osage can be purchased most readily in the form of wood chips, wood bits or powder. All work beautifully to color, but the larger the chunks, the more time will be needed to extract the color from the fibrous woody parts (see tips below).


Osage is commonly used for woodworking, as it's a high quality, rot-resistant, and extremely dense hardwood.

It has also been used medicinally, as well as as a Natural Dye.

It has a long, largely undocumented history with indigenous cultures in the United States, with use for bows, drums and beyond.

And, it is one of many trees that have been identified through fossil remains, but the only of its genus, to have survived into this age.


Osage, like so many Natural Dyes, will show color differently on different fiber and fabric types. However, its most common result is a consistent bright and brilliant golden yellow.

Osage isn't too picky. As long as you soak it first and cook at medium heat for a few hours before dyeing, it performs beautifully. You may consider pouring your dyestuff into a loosely woven (e.g. cheesecloth) pouch to avoid having to pick Osage out of your fiber or dyeables.

Additionally, Osage appreciates the use of Alum for making a more long-lasting color result and for brightening it a pinch more. It is known to go green with both Copper and Iron, so if you have a few old copper pennies or rusty screws, you might try throwing them into the dyebath for a complete new color.


Osage enjoys a pre-mordant for long-lasting results (wash fastness and light fastness). Alum or Alum in combination with a Tannin works well for this purpose.

Iron generally shifts the bright golden hue toward a brown-olive tone and also works well as a mordant.


Osage is a fun dye to work with and can be used at .5 : 1 to 1 : 1 (weight of Osage to weight of dry fiber/fabric) for the richest color. This means that 40 grams will dye approximately 40-80 grams (dry weight) of fiber/fabric.