I have been dyeing using eucalyptus leaves for quite a few years now. If I count the first time I dyed fleece for spinning in the mid 90s, that would be almost 20 years since I started. These last 3-4 years I have been eco dyeing on silk fabric. With experience and trial and error I have started to get a feel for the brews and bundles. I felt good about these last couple of batches even before I opened them. A lot of the time my dye batch happens either by accident, luck, or because I don't want to waste dye materials. In this batch I used red cabbage and purple carrot as a dye solution. We bought a new refrigerator after 20 years and it's smaller than the old one. There was no room for old red cabbage and purple carrots in the new fridge. Instead of throwing them out I chopped them up and soaked them in a dye pot. The next day the combination of red cabbage and purple carrots produced the richest blue-purple colour I have ever seen. I bundled up 4 bundles with what I had on hand that day, Eucalyptus, Grevillea leaves and a few other odd and ends. I dropped all the bundles in the dye solution and left them overnight.
I wrapped silk and leaves over the rusty tin can. The rust acts as mordant on the leaves. From my experience I found that red cabbage loses it's colour if you overheat it. Instead of stewing the bundles I steamed them in the double steamers. I steamed them for about 2 hours.
After steaming, I left the bundles sitting for about a week. The cold weather kept the bundles from turning mouldy. Ideally, I should have left them for two weeks or more, but I am not a patient person! Yesterday I was home and thought I would have a peek at one of them! So first I unwrapped the strings!
I can see the Grevillea leaves snugged tight around the tin can. It's very exciting to see the magic of the leaves, rust and heat transferred onto a piece of vintage silk!
The whole piece of vintage silk is about 90 x 30cm in size. It's a good size for me to lay the leaves on one side of the silk and fold the silk into half lengthwise, then roll it up from one end with whatever I was using at the time.
After the silk dries it loses a bit of colour. I'm very happy with the result of this bundle. I will repeat this same technique again in the future. Below is the second tin can I dyed at the same time.
From the outside of the bundle it looks the same at the first one, but I remember that I added a few more things like tea balls, slices of purple carrots, pine needles/leaves and eucalyptus leaves.
I could see the shade of pink/purple coming through when I unwrapped the string. It's exciting at this point!
When I unrolled it, I stopped to take some photos. I can't wait to unroll the whole piece! I could see more vivid blue/pink and purple as I unrolled!
The colour was lighter on the inside, but still rich and vibrant. I wish I could share the smell with you too! I'm in heaven right now! Thanks nature, you brought me so much joy!
What I normally do after unwrapping the bundles is to let the silk dry completely. I then press them with a steam iron on 'Silk' setting. Then I leave the pressed silk lying around for a few days. I found that after a few days the colour gets deeper with oxidisation. Also having the cloth lying around gives me some idea of what to do with it. The brain is always ticking over here at Notjustnat!!!
Until next time