March 5, 2013

Natural and Indigo Dye

The eco dyed batch I did with my cast iron pot posted here a few weeks back turned out very well. I didn't open them for ages because I was busy with other things and totally forgot about them. When I finally opened them I was surprised at the result. I've also been playing a little bit with indigo vat this week as well. The vat is almost exhausted now and I don't want to add anymore indigo to it at this stage as we are mixing a new vat for the workshop in a couple of weeks. So here are some photos to share with you.

A plant suddenly appears outside the laundry door. It has large heart shaped leaves. I have no idea what it is. First thing that came to my mind was, will it dye? I wrapped a few leaves up in silk and steamed them in the eucalyptus dye bath with the rest of the bundles in the cast iron pot. When I opened the bundle I found imprints of the leaves on the silk. It was quite a surprising result!

Two pieces of silk dyed with eucalyptus leaves (on the left). Some leaves were green and some had dried. The effect from the cast iron pot created those dark lines around the shape of the leaves. Quite amazing to see the result from these batches. The piece on the right was from the same batch using dried oak leaves. I love using oak for dyeing. There are a few trees on the campus where I work. I only collect windfall leaves for dyeing.


You must be sick of me talking about indigo by now. The last day of summer was the end of February so soon indigo growing season will be over and I guessed dyeing with indigo will be over too. I dyed a piece of solid cotton fabric, two Shibori samplers and a tote bag. The old vat was still active, but I don't think it will last much longer. I hope my indigo plants will give me some seeds for next year.

In the last couple of weeks I got inspired while researching about the indigo dyeing process. I came across some blogs here and here on natural dyeing. I have been eco-dyeing for at least two years and have yards of dyed fabric stocked up. I thought I would try dyeing block colour or solid colour from plant materials. My first try was with oak leaves and acorns that had been soaked for at least six months. I boiled the plant materials and water for an hour. Once it cooled I strained off the liquid and returned it to boiling with pre mordant cotton, silk and threads. I boiled it for about 30 minutes and left it to cool overnight. The next day I rinsed it in cold water until water ran clear. 

Another batch of natural dyeing using dahlia flowers from my colleague's garden. Dahlia flowers give a rich mustard colour. I used the same process I did with the oak dyed. The fabric was pre mordant with alum before I added it to the dye bath. I can see so much potential in natural dyeing with plants I previously  used for eco-dyeing. I of course will always look out for plants I haven't tried before. 

Dyeing has given me a lot of fun and enjoyment. It makes my daily walks more interesting. On top of that I  have acquired more knowledge on plants that are suitable for dyeing. I ended up with load of dyed fabric as the result of my dyeing so I'm planning to open an Etsy shop to sell it. It's a long term plan at the moment, but it will finally happen...!

Until next time


Nedra said...

I think your fabric dying has been so fascinating! You find the most interesting plants and use them in the most creative ways.

deanna7trees said...

love seeing your adventures with dyeing. i imagine you have stacks of dyed cloths by now. always new things to learn.

Needled Mom said...

Your outcomes are always so beautiful. That stray leave made for a wonderful surprise. The oak dying is gorgeous. With three oak trees in my yard, I should try some of that!!!!

Kim said...

Sick of Indigo dying......never.
Can't wait to see what you do with the beautiful fabrics :0)....oh boy
maybe I'll be able to buy a piece of it too!

Happy Sewing

Jeannie said...

Like Kim said, I never tire of your experiments with indigo and natural dyeing. I am in awe! I picked up some dahlia bulbs this weekend. They have dark black leaves and red flowers (the reason for the purchase). Now I am wondering if the leaves and flowers will dye. Hmmm, summer seems so far away as I watch the snow and sleet fall. I know only a few more sleeps and it will be here. Have a wonderful week, Nat!

Terry said...

Great results in the dye pot. Always such fun to see the results.
Creating is a part of our lives and you and I will always have something to share . Thanks

ria vogelzang said...

What a beautiful sight that is! I always admire your way of creating the most beautiful fabric!
Love and big HUG!

Judy said...

Of course I love all of your dyeing. I have all of the necessaries to begin Indigo dyeing, but got so caught up in natural dyeing last summer, that I never made my Indigo pot! But summer will be here again soon! Thanks for all of the eye candy, Nat! Sure is fun and inspirational to look at! And I agree about all of the benefits of natural dyeing - it sure does open ones eyes to our surroundings!
Guess what? We are headed off to the beach after all! So I am taking fabric, and can't wait to do a bit of beach dyeing! WooHoo!!

Thanks for even more inspiration Dear Nat!


Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Oh Nat that 2nd pic...those colours are just beautiful...I love are doing so well with your dyeing....Good Luck with your Etsy will happen....YOU GO GIRL XOXO

Jenny said...

Hi Nat, Have been very inspired by all your dyeing adventures. I am looking for some japanese indigo seeds, do you know of a source? Have started madder, woad and tropical indigo, would love to try growing japanese indigo as well.

Nat Palaskas said...

Hi Jenny, I have Japanese indigo seeds to spare so please leave me your contact to email you - Hugs Nat

Jenny said...

That's great Nat, am so excited. You can email me jennycreasy Cheers, Jenny

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