Monday, 28 February 2011

eucalyptus dyeing

dye baths

on my weekend away earlier this month, we had a lovely morning tea with em's very crafty granny-in-law. we talked about quilting, papermaking, pottery and she showed me the most amazing blanket, crocheted in gorgeous shades of reds, raspberry pinks, yellows and browns. she told me the yarn had been dyed with eucalyptus and i was totally intrigued. i love dying fabric and have been interested in using natural dyes for a couple of years now but it all seemed like a bit too much work. i did some quick research on eucalyptus dying and was particularly interested in this page that talked about not using any mordant at all and still getting good lightfastness. the results mentioned were all on knitting wool but i thought i'd give it a try on fabric anyway, without any huge expectations. a walk through the local park yielded a good sized bag of fallen eucalypt debris. i filled two large tins with equal parts water and plant material, one with broken up pieces of bark and one with broken up dried leaves and whole gumnuts, and left them to sit in a sunny spot for about a week, stirring every now and then.

on friday i enlisted mae's help to strain the leaves, bark and gumnuts out and pour the deeply coloured water back into the containers. i added scraps of natural linen, raw silk and white cotton and left them immersed overnight. on saturday we fished them out and i was completely amazed by the colours that emerged.

eucalyptus dying

i was expecting some degree of red but got shades of purple from the eucalyptus bark and an array of greys from the leaves and gumnuts - sooooo much better than i could have hoped for! the white cotton had the lightest results and i was expecting the raw silk to be the deepest colour (something i read about animal proteins accepting dye better) but surprisingly, a thick, coarsely woven linen took up the most colour. i have no idea how these would hold up to a traditional wash in the machine (will test it out soon) but the colour held through a thorough scrub in cold water to remove any bits of plant gunk so i'm hopeful. i absolutely LOVE the colours and am super excited to experiment further, the element of surprise is just too good. this little exercise comprises so many of my loves so well - nature, foraging, dyeing, fabric and colour. excellent.

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15 comments:

  1. the colours are gorgeous! I've been wanting to try plant dying for a while now but somehow haven't found time... I'm putting it back on my 'to do' list! Am very interested to hear how they hold up in the washing machine.

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  2. Wow, what fantastic colours. I love the purpley grey from the bark. I must have to try! It would be great to get that colour in wool too.

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  3. that has me completely gobwmacked. Did you seriously just leave them in cold water overnight, that's amazing to me. I think we may just give that a try!

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  4. these colours are so lovely...purple and grey...and how surprising! i love the idea of trying it with wool. hmm. if only there were eucalyptus trees here. {instead of this wintery abyss that is driving me nuts!}

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  5. Wow, fantastic. Well done... Impressed as always by your creativity and ingenuity!

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  6. Have you got India Flint's book on eco dyeing? It's very inspiring! She has a website and blog too ...

    http://www.indiaflint.com/

    Also, the Plant Craft Cottage at the botanic gardens is a great resource. The Natural Dyeing Group (of which I used to be a member) has the most fantastic library in the cottage, and they hold workshops and regular events.

    Love your samples!

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  7. I have been really interested in natural dyeing over the past 6 months but have yet to try it. i didn't know about eucalyptus. Thanks for sharing

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  8. What an AMAZING result! I love the earthy feel of the resulting colours. And all from eucalyptus. Fantastic.

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  9. Seriously? No mordant and the held colour fast in the wash?! I am too excited for words!!

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  10. WOW. i'm blown away! i LOVE both the soft purple shades and the greys. fabulous. interested to see how they 'wash' up.

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  11. That's a great experiment Leslie - I'm feeling like that would be a beautiful quilt project.

    I have the India Flint book - will bring it on the craft weekend if you can wait that long.

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  12. thanks, michelle! i took the india flint book out of the library about six months ago but would love to look through it again if you can bring it in may - if i don't break down and buy it myself by then, that is : )

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  13. Love the colours, I can't wait to see what you create from these.

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  14. OOh wow...how interesting. This is the first time I have stopped by your blog and LOVE plant dying! Such wonderful colours.

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  15. very interesting

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