Eco-Printing in the Spring

It’s a bit early in Chicago to begin eco-printing with leaves and flowers.  After all, I just procured my annuals and perennials from the local nursery, Mielke’s on Touhy Avenue.  Terrific place to get your plants.  Such a huge variety of plants and flowers and it’s a family-owned, long-time business.

Another reason not to eco-print so early is that the chlorophylls are not as strong as they will be later in the summer and fall.  But I cannot wait.  I am impatient when it comes to natural dyeing.  So those chlorophylls have a big job to do besides getting their energy from the sun.  Those green pigments are what helps dyers produce contact-printing on fabric.  I don’t mean to obscure the fact that the photosynthesis releases oxygen into the air–the kind we breathe.  And that animals and insects depend upon the plants for food.

In any case, by using plants for eco-printing or dyeing early on, the pigments may not be as strong and may not produce the intense colors some dyers expect.  However, I was pleased with the results of the eco-prints achieved on cloth, using my own simple and very young garden plants, including geranium leaves, wild rose bush leaves, false indigo leaves and a few frozen spent tulip blooms, with a dash of golden barberry.  My only addition to the dye pot besides water were yellow onion skins.

Here are the results: