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Botanical Dye on Wood

Updated: Oct 10




Plant based botanical dye has usually been applied to textiles or paper. Many of Kitayama Eita’s pieces are dyed with extracts of plants, which he managed to fix onto wood. The plants he uses most often are pomegranate, bayberry bark, and camellia flowers. All of them are locally and sustainably grown or foraged.


Interestingly, Kitayama has never tried to use urushi-lacquer, persimmon tannin or even indigo leaves, which have all been widely used in Japanese crafts. He chose to apply less tested botanical dyes instead, with extra work through trial and error. The artist said he preferred not to categorize his works in the traditional Japanese crafts framework.

And the results are stunning: gorgeous chestnut brown, charcoal with a purple hue, ash gold with a hint of green, and endless variations of graphite grey (the photographs do not do them justice. You will need to see the actual pieces with different angles and lighting). “It is a great joy to choose the dye to (or not to) apply, thinking about how the finished piece would look when mixed with the wood’s original colour and character. Sometimes it is so hard to decide that I would leave the turned piece to rest for a while”, the artist said.


Amongst all the source materials for his dyes, camellia petals has a special place in his heart, as it’s the first plant that he tried to dye wooden items, with the flowers from his grandfather’s garden trees.


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