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Getting crafty: using veggies to dip dye curtains and paint wood furniture

They’re loaded full of vitamins and other good stuff, but who would have guessed the creative possibilities of veggies? From dip-dyeing with cabbage to stamping with sweet potatoes, enjoy these two weekend projects featuring everyday fresh produce.

A blue TORKIS laundry basket with colorful lengths of textile both in it and hanging from a MULIG clothes rack next to it.
A blue TORKIS laundry basket with colorful lengths of textile both in it and hanging from a MULIG clothes rack next to it.

Cabbage dip-dyed curtains

The natural world has a rainbow of plant-based pigments to offer: perfect for adding some color and personality to a set of plain white curtains. This all-natural purple dye was created by simmering sliced red cabbage with a few spoons of salt in a big pot of water for roughly an hour. Feel free to experiment with other colorful fruits or vegetables, or even things like tea and turmeric. Once you’re done, turn off the heat, strain the liquid and return to the pot to cool down.

A round RÖRT beech spoon is placed alongside sliced red cabbage and a glass bowl of salt on a spread newspaper.

    Color loading

    The fabric you’re dyeing should be recently washed and still wet. Now it’s time to lower it into your homemade dye, securing it at the top and holding it level to ensure a straight line. The longer you submerge your fabric, the more intense the color will be.

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    A length of white HANNALILL fabric being lowered into an IKEA 365+ stockpot on a white TILLREDA portable induction hob.
      A length of lilac, soaked HANNALILL fabric dripping into an IKEA 365+ stockpot on a white TILLREDA portable induction hob.
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      Different techniques to try out

      A solid line from white to purple is simple and striking, but you can also go for a softer, more gradual fade. To do this, you’ll need to dip the fabric in stages: starting with a few centimeters at the bottom, and slowly adding in more fabric to create the dark-to-light transition.

      White SILVERLÖNN fabric, lowered into a dark liquid in an IKEA 365+ stockpot on a white TILLREDA portable induction hob.

        Rinse, hang, dry... and repeat!

        Once you’ve achieved the look you want, all that’s left to do is throw it in the wash (not with other clothes, of course) and hang it to dry. Just look at that color! And to think you made it all on your own, with little more than the contents of your fridge. So, what should we dye next?

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        A wooden-floor room with DYTÅG tie-dyed curtains hung over a white MULIG clothes rack, a TORKIS laundry basket next to it.
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          What would you like to dye?

          Natural textiles like 100% more sustainable cotton and linen are best suited to vegetable dyes. As a beginner, it’s best to stay as close to plain white as possible to avoid other colors affecting your result.

          See all curtains
          See all curtains

          Painting wooden furniture with potatoes

          One great thing about untreated wood is that it looks lovely as it is – and will do for years and years to come. Better yet, it’s also a great blank canvas for paints and stains if you want your pieces to look a bit more personal. Case in point? This little bench, transformed into something truly special with the help of a humble spud.

          Chopped potatoes and a dark grey VARDAGEN paring knife atop an oak ARTISTISK chopping board, next to a RINNIG tea towel.

            Inspiration in the making

            Boxes, cabinets and even bed frames are just some of the products you can find in responsibly sourced untreated wood. Pick your canvas, and let the creativity begin!

            Solids, stripes... or shapes?

            You could paint this bench in a completely new color, or you could create your own geometric pattern, like these triangles. Start by taking a potato and cutting it in half with a knife, before carving out whatever shape you want (this bit is best left to grown-ups). Pro tip: use a paper template or cookie cutter as your guide to get the outline as close to perfect as possible.

            An ongoing session using a carved sweet potato to paint geometric patterns on a PERJOHAN pine bench with storage.

              Stamp away to your heart’s content

              Apply an even coat of paint to your potato stamp, and then go wild! And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect – the slightly wonky pattern makes these pieces all the more charming.

              Odd textiles flowing over the top of a KNAGGLIG pine box which in turn is decorated with a potato-stamped pattern.
                A PERJOHAN pine bench with storage, its top painted with a black-and-white potato-stamped pattern.