Green Persimmon Tannin Dyeing


In my studio, I explore natural dyes that can be grown or foraged in our climate.  My intention is to share our bio-regional color story and explore plants that will not require excessive water or energy to care for.  I was very excited to discover an article a while back, that shared the Japanese tradition and recipe for green persimmon dyeing.  These fruits grow wonderfully in our Southern California region, are loaded with vitamin A, C, antioxidants, fiber, and the hard to acquire manganese. 

The Fuyu persimmon is the crunchy, Saturn-shaped persimmon I speak about, pictured here (opposed to the oblong-shaped, Hachiya variety, which gets soft and custard-like when ripe- also delicious!) is sweet and delicious when orange and mature.  For our dyeing purposes, however, we are looking for the immature, green persimmon, that we find in August.  

The article I read was about a woman who had traveled back to her hometown in Japan and rediscovered the tradition of green persimmon dyeing.  Her story described the process of how the sun "tans" the persimmon painted fabric.  In fact, this is the nature of tannins and one reason why this is such a special dye. Unlike other dyes, a true tannin, will darken in the sunlight over time- and especially the green persimmon.

I've explored the process and this is the first recipe I've come up with.  I hope you enjoy this fall fruit as much as I do. Please share your results too:)

1. Harvest green persimmons in August before their tannin turns to sugar

2. Pulverize the fruit in a blender or food processor until it is almost pasty.

3. Press persimmon paste through a fine cheesecloth or muslin and catch the juice in another bowl.

4. Paint persimmon juice onto paper or textile for waterproofing and color.

5. Lay fabric in direct sunlight immediately and leave for days/until your desired shade is achieved.


kristin morrison