About Deb

We live in the Texas Hill Country.  Life is good.  In between gazing at the scenery I stay busy at the loom and over the dyepot.

My current study is the colors from my valley.  Cactus tuna, Texas persimmon, lichen, agarita and acorns all give me a variety to design with.  My garden holds Japanese Indigo, Navajo Tea or Cota, Hopi Sunflowers and Woad.

The garden colors complement the colors from my valley.  

As I said, life is good!

27 Responses to “About Deb”

  1. Deborah mersky July 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Hi. I found your blog as I was searching for info on persimmon dye. Do you use a mordant in your dye? Is it permanent? I am actually trying to use it as ink.
    We seem to have a bumper crop of persimmon fruit this year – yum!
    Thanks so much!


    • debmcclintock July 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

      Hi, I do use mordant for my skein dyeing. Typically I use 12% alum sulfate to WOF (weight of fiber). In my reading persimmons are heavy on tannin so I probably don’t need it. However, if I put time into some of these collection dyestuffs I try to use a mordant to try for longterm lightfastness I can trust. As you look around at references most state that persimmon dye is sensitive to hot water. An example is at Kay Faulkner’s blog based on her persimmons in Australia http://kayfaulkner.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/at-the-end-of-june-2012/

      Please note that I am using the Texas persimmon. This is a different species. I am still testing the lightfastness, the color seemed to hold up in hot water wash. The dipping and drying in sun also holds up as the colors deepen nicely from a lemon yellow in the first dip to a dark gold in the final dips. Good luck with your ink explorations. Deb Mc


  2. Valerie T. November 15, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    I am experimenting with the blossoms from Texas Sage/rainbush but can’t find anyone who has been able to set the lovely pinkish lavender color they give when soaked in vinegar and left in the sun. Experimentation is my usual journey, but haven’t had much rain to prompt the blooms this year! Any tips or suggestions? All I get is a sad, drab brown on wool. Thanks for your time and your blog!


    • debmcclintock November 15, 2012 at 2:36 am #

      Boy, I can’t help you. I haven’t seen any mention of the Cenzio in any of my research on Texas dyes. I haven’t even seen mention of it as a dye. We don’t have the bush here in the TX hill country unless it is planted by man. We don’t have much dirt so we haven’t planted it. Have you searched under the scientific term Leucophyllum frutescens. I looked briefly and could not find any mention of the chemistry of the flowers. That is key for you. If you can find what chemical is in the flower than you will know what component you are trying to “tease” out of the flower. Good luck and PLEASE let me know if you succeed. Deb Mc


  3. Liz October 4, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    I’m a recent Texas transplant living in San Marcos and getting back into textile arts now that I’m retired. I’ve been following India Flint and Jude Hill online, but there’s nothing like seeing work in person. Please let me know if you ever have studio tours … and depending on how strenuous it is, I would be willing to give you a hand with harvesting dyestuff.

    P.S. I actually took some pix of the cochineal on our cactus today in hopes of blogging it this weekend. Love the synchronicity.


    • debmcclintock October 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

      Great, when it gets later in Oct or Nov I’ll track you down. I see your email in my message. The cochineal is so easy to process. I am hoping to gather a larger amount this year so I can see how much more depth of shade I can get than what I got last year.


  4. Virginia December 3, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    I am interested in finding a weekend class or workshop on natural dyeing. Do you teach or know of something in the Austin-Houston-San Antonio area?



    • debmcclintock March 30, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

      Hi Virginia, I am sorry for the delay in answering. I will be teaching a beginner workshop this summer at the CHT convention, here is the link

      Click to access CHT2015-RegBookFINAL-PC-or-Mac.pdf

      and here is my class description

      This is a “dry” class for beginners. We’ll explore equipment, options and how to start your natural dyeing in your own environment. Ideas of how/what to do will definitely be discussed.

      Roots, Wood, Bugs and Berries – Deb McClintock
      Level: Beginner
      June 24-28, 2015 DoubleTree Hotel, Austin Texas

      Natural dyestuffs fall mainly into the following broad categories: Leaves and stems; twigs and tree prunings; flower heads; barks; roots; insect dyes; outer skins, hulls and husks; hardwoods and wood shavings; berries and seeds; and lichen.

      We will cover how to get those colors to “bite” with mordants; how you use different “assists” to push the colors different directions, and how natural dyes were developed and used historically. We will go through the basic equipment needed to get started and talk about safety. This session won’t make you a natural dye expert in one day, but you will start looking at your garden and yard plants in a new light. What color will your valley provide?

      Equipment Requirement for Students: Note-taking materials and favorite dye book, if you have one.
      Materials Fee: NONE


  5. Janet Garcia February 2, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    Great looking crop. Appreciate your posting.


  6. Pamela January 19, 2016 at 1:14 pm #


    I’m so glad I found you!

    I’ve been investigating tannin fur with plants so that it doesn’t change the color. I wondered about lichens?

    Te tannin is critical but walnut that I’ve worked with on bear leaves it dark.

    I’m concerned oak will stain it brown. What about birch?

    I harvest fur from animals that have died on the roads and loath using chrome tanning from the tanneries!

    Veggie tanning facilities only make leather – and I don’t want to brain tan.

    Any suggestions?

    Thank you!



  7. Yvonne July 25, 2016 at 7:20 am #

    Dear Deb,

    What a great blog!
    I was wondering whether I could get your permission to use one of your photographs of slik dyed with Polygonum (IMG_0174)?
    It is for my PhD thesis about prehistoric subsistence and this photograph gives an excellent representation of the blue dye hues available during that time in my research area.
    I hope to hear from you soon!

    Kind regards from the Netherlands,


    • debmcclintock July 25, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

      Please be aware those skeins are dyed with my indigo suffrucitosa not the Japanese Indigo Polygonum. I do talk about both indigos on that blog post. I don’t want you to identify the wrong color source. In the end, all indigos end up at about the same color range. You have my permission to use that photo but do use the proper indigo source. regards Deb Mc


  8. amadaclaire February 22, 2017 at 11:17 pm #

    Hi Deb! I have a few questions I’m hoping you might be able to answer: I’m currently soaking acorns in the hopes of achieving a neutral gray tone for a project. I live in San Antonio, and the acorn here are smaller and thinner than the ones in your acorn post. I’m wondering if this is going to affect the outcome and if you have any experience or tips for me. Also, I’m going to be using iron to bring out the gray, but would you suggest adding the iron to the alum mordant bath or the acorn bath? Thanks for your help!


    • debmcclintock February 24, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

      Hi, you did not say the weight of the acorns or the weight of what you are dyeing (substate). For acorns you need the same weight as your substrate. Doesn’t matter the acorn size, mass is the key. You will end up with a gold tone with yellow base. The iron will push it to brown. You might want to consider using just iron on your substrate to see if you get your neutral gray. I usually use an iron after bath to avoid contaminating my dye bath. Just have another pot with just water and the iron dissolved in it and dip your yarn for a short time. The heat/iron and exposure to air will darken your yarn. Mix a 5% WOF (weight of fiber) ratio of iron in hot water, dissolve well and add the iron gradually to your plain water bath (leave room in the depot for this liquid to be added). Just do a little at a time, heat, expose to air and see how dark your yarn goes. 5% is the max I expose my yarn to so the iron does not damage the yarn. have fun! Here is a search of the gold tones I have coaxed out of acorns https://debmcclintock.me/?s=acorn&submit=Search


  9. Terri Wilson May 26, 2017 at 1:05 am #

    Would you be willingly to offer advice about ordering mordants? I’m looking at end of the fiscal year purchasing at work and need guidance since I’m a beginner to dyeing wool and cotton.
    Thanks, Terri Wilson


  10. Caroline Harper May 14, 2018 at 2:50 pm #

    Deb, I bought 2 packs of your indigofera suffruticosa. I planted 2 weeks ago and they have not come out. I live in South Carolina where the suffruticosa used to be grown.. It is 90degrees most days so they should have at least germinated by now. We have afternoon heat on them for many hours. The rest of the time, I cover them with the plastic cover, green house effect. So how do you explain the sluggishness?
    Thank you
    Caroline Harper


    • debmcclintock May 15, 2018 at 4:32 pm #

      Hi Caroline, did you follow the instructions to soak the seeds that was in your shipping notice? Here is what was on your emailed shipping notice….
      Soak seeds overnight in hot water to soften the natural coating. Look at my blog entry for more growing tips. Thank you for your business debmcclintock.me/2018/03/02/indigofera-suffruticosa-seeds-for-sale/

      I also just posted a blog entry re temperature impact down here in Texas and the abnormal cooler weather. Temperature is everything. I have never had to cover with plastic. I suggest you remove the plastic. Other buyers have reported good germination rate. I am just now getting germination because of the cooler temperatures here which are unusual.


      • Caroline Harper May 15, 2018 at 8:38 pm #

        Here were no instructions with my order so we did not soak the seeds.

        Sent from my iPhone



      • debmcclintock May 15, 2018 at 8:41 pm #

        It was on your shipping email.


      • Caroline Harper May 15, 2018 at 8:43 pm #

        I see it now. I never read shipping emails.

        Sent from my iPhone



  11. Karl Lane February 20, 2019 at 11:33 am #

    Hi Deb
    We are working on an interpretation panels on lichens (in South Africa). We would like to include a photo of skeins/fabrics dyed with lichens. I wondered if you have one that we could use? It would need to be 300 dpi — say a file size of around 1.5 megs. If you can help I would be grateful.
    carpe (at)mweb.co.za
    Best wishes


    • debmcclintock March 30, 2019 at 3:02 pm #

      Sorry for lag in response I’ve been traveling. Where will the panels be displayed? I can look at my photos and see what would work best for you.


  12. eloniv September 14, 2019 at 8:05 pm #

    Hi, i found your blog when i was looking for indigofera suffruticosa seeds. I haven’t been able to find any anywhere, and was wondering if you will have some for sale this year?


    • debmcclintock September 14, 2019 at 10:13 pm #

      Check my blog in Jan 2020. It is looking good for a small harvest.


  13. aphroditeatlas May 4, 2020 at 12:48 pm #

    Central Texas indigo vat – best container?
    I noticed in your blog that you’re building a permanent indigo dyeing station. What container do you plan to use, and how do you intend to heat it? I’ve been considering moving my 1-2-3 vat from a small stainless stockpot into a 5-gallon crock, which would have to be permanently installed due to size/weight. I’m in Austin and can rely on a good deal of solar heating (as you know!) but I have not managed to think my way into a good heating method for the cooler months. Stock tank immersion heater, maybe?


    • debmcclintock May 4, 2020 at 12:55 pm #

      I used a large Thai water cistern. Yep. Heavy, not going anywhere. I use solar heat until I lose the sun in late October. The sun is just now getting back into position. I can use a big large heater to get it up to heat. It could crack in the winter, so I just empty it and have held my indigo washed sludge for reuse. I’ll blog how that goes. I use fructose 123 as well, the larger vat is much easiee to keep in balance. Expensive set up due to volumn. If you use the crock, set up more than one. You can have different strength vats for color depths light vs dark.


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