Monday, October 24, 2011

Eco Dyeing October 2011

Hi all, 
It's been ages since I've been felting, and I have so many projects I want to get to- lots of woolly experimentation coming soon...... as soon as I get back from a little trip (fibery work trip-yay!) that I'm going on on Thursday. That's all a little ephemeral and dreamlike...a big adventure...and so I'm trying to take care of all the necessaries right now, so I can fully embrace the single adventurer mode for the weekend...more on that later...
  In the meantime, I've been plant dyeing madly...well, as madly as one can plant dye, given the slow nature of the process. Maybe I should say concertedly dyeing, with a good dye agenda beside me so all the pots, and any available buckets are constantly in use. And created a delightful little eco-bundle in the midst of it all. Such an addictive process!
I wet and laid out about a 60 inch square of organic cotton muslin. Then laid on my gathering of leaves. Blood grass, maple leaves, bracken fern, plum, and fig. A mystery leaf which I walked down the road to collect from a neighbours bush. I've had my eye on it for months, while driving past. I was certain it was a purple smoke bush, or cotinus....but no....mystery plant, with lovely purple leaves. and the last of my fresh dahlias...there's a good stock in the freezer for dyeing with later...all this I rolled up around some cedar bark and a very rusty tin can I found, while collecting the bracken fern. It's such a perfect process. The gathering walk invites you to pay attention to your surroundings, in a fractal way. The sense of place, down to the minutest leaf....the beauty in contrast with the garbage...perfect....
Tied up and ready. I steamed it in one of my dye the end of a very long (but perfectly sunny and beautiful) day yesterday. The smell of the cedar steaming was absolutely intoxicating. I'm looking forward to using it more-both for it's colour and smell.  Let it sit overnight...

And about 24 hours later....opened it up...I got some very good distinct leaf patterns this time.  The purple dots are little cochineal bugs. Just a couple sprinkled on. I actually wish I had resisted that temptation...but there is always more cloth. I used only 6-8 bugs, but the dye is so strong, it penetrates all the layers and folds of cloth.

The tin can was in direct contact with the cloth down at the bottom right, showing the darkest colours from the ferrous.

  I'd love to have left it for longer to steep, and to keep this fabric length whole... but this fabric is coming with me on my adventure, so it needs to be dried...and then cut up into little pieces to be shared, and I'm very inspired to make more when I get back.
More plant colours tomorrow!
warm wishes,


  1. hmm this is getting me thinking about dying like this now lol looks really interesting

  2. I wish I could remember! I've just studied the pictures and tried to recall.....I didn't add anything to the dyebath/ just has to be a conbination of what was bundled and the iron from the can..wish I could be more illuminating!

  3. Replies
    1. Hi there, This was about two years ago, but I am guessing about an hour...I try never to hurry the process...and when steaming or dyeing I work on other things while the pots are quietly doing their magic!