Up-cycling with Eco-printing

This hot summer and intermittent rain has given us lush foliage in Chicago, so on the order of making hay while the sun shines, I decided to do more eco-printing and up-cycling of cellulose fibers this past week.

First up, my Mom gave me her old Jones, NY 100% cotton T-top and asked if I could “do something with it.”  There were a few old food stains and some tiny blood spots, so why not try?  Generally, the items I eco-print with the intent of up-cycling tend to be light colored tops that just need a dash of color.  I had never before tried to dye a stained item.

I went ahead and scoured the top in Synthrapol, then mordanted it with alum acetate.  And after rinsing again, I proceeded to lay out some leaves, including rose leaves, milkweed and loropetalum.  After an hour or two of boiling, and an overnight rest, I was delighted with the results.  My mom is tickled pink!

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Detail up-cycled Jones NY Shirt
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Upcycled Jones NY T-Top for my Mom

In the same pot, I eco-printed an old Hanro long-sleeved undershirt (100% cotton) that I wear in winter. I used the same scour and mordant process as above, but layered the shirt with false indigo (the yellow), some geranium and rose leaves.  Again, very pleased!

Detail eco-printed underwear
Detail eco-printed underwear

Finally, I made myself a long skirt last week in 100% organic cotton jersey but had some leftover cloth when I trimmed the hem.  Perfect for an infinity scarf!  Scoured, mordanted and eco-printed with mostly geranium leaves.

I am having way too much fun without spending any money.   I love it!!!

Infinity Scarf up-cycled from skirt hem remnant
Infinity Scarf up-cycled from skirt hem remnant

 

 

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Eco-print results from this week’s class!

It’s been hot, hot, hot here in Chicago, but that did not deter us from our scheduled Eco-printing Class on Tuesday.  With the air conditioning on full blast and the kettles boiling, we were able to start and complete our botanical prints class.

All the scouring and mordanting of the cloth had been done previously, so we were able to focus on arranging our plants on cloth and steaming and boiling in the kettles.  Here are some of our very successful results:

 

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Awaiting a break in the heat for more botanical printing.

Next up, combining natural dyeing of cloth with eco-printing.

Preparing for teaching natural dyeing

Preparing for teaching a natural dyeing or eco-printing class requires advance planning, as with so many other arts and crafts.  In the case of natural dyeing or printing with plants, any fabric you intend to use must be properly mordanted.  And before the mordanting takes place, the fabric must be scoured.

Of course, you must have ready your tables, equipment, natural dyes and plants.  Are there any dyes you are using which must be prepared a day or two in advance?  Shredded bark dyes come to mind.  They often need several days to cure in a prepared liquid, as did  the black walnuts I dyed with recently.  IMG_2073

If you are fortunate enough to live near a local natural dyer, why not sign up for a class this summer?  If you are unable to travel, there may be good books available at your local library.  I try to preview arts and crafts books prior to purchasing them, since there are sometimes disappointments–not enough photos, not enough practical instruction.  I remember purchasing a promising book about surface design but realized too late that it was large on photos but short on techniques.  This may sound obvious, but if you are gathering plants for dyeing, it probably won’t be helpful to purchase a book on Australian eco-dyeing techniques if you live in Vermont.  You simply will not have access to the same vegetation.

You may also be interested in a brand new “Introduction to Natural Dyeing” PDF available from me on my Etsy shop.  Just click and begin your adventure in natural dyeing!

https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/KaysKollectible/tools/listings/stats:true/450773716

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Be sure to post comments about any natural dyeing you have done recently!

And stay tuned for results from my upcoming eco-printing class!

Eco-printing: Upcycling and Recycling

Giving new life to old things–it’s eco-conscious, and it’s a very good thing.  We may throw our unwanted belongings in the trash, or donate to Goodwill or Salvation Army or other worthwhile charities. But we may also consider up-cycling, giving new life to old items.

Recently I  have been using eco-printing as a way to make use of garments that I had shoved to the back of my closet.  There was nothing wrong with any of these three tops, but I simply wasn’t wearing them.  Why?  The Gap cotton T-shirt was very comfortable to wear–100% organic cotton–and I believe GAP products give value for the money.  But the color was puce, a color which was unflattering to me.

Another top–one by Tahari, modal fabric and versatile white–was a bit too clingy and a bit too sheer for my taste.  The third top was sleeveless, viscose, ivory, flowing and very flattering–but it wasn’t too exciting.  So I decided to eco-print the tops, and at the same time, continue my experiments with natural dyeing of cellulose fibers.

I gathered my leaves and flowers one day–all tops had been mordanted previous to the eco-printing session.  First up was the sleeveless viscose top, which I bundled with a variety of leaves from my deck garden, including geranium, mint, and smoke bush. I simmered the top in plain water, along with a few other scrap pieces of fabric, which I use for slow-stitching projects.

In the second, larger pot, I simmered pomegranate exhaust bath along with some spent leaves from previous dyeing.  I rolled the Tahari top with loropetalum, plum and smokebush leaves. The GAP T-shirt was sprinkled with Japanese maple, rose and smoke bush leaves.  Both pots simmered for an hour or so and then cooled overnight.  The next morning, all fabric was removed from the dye pot

Sleeveless top eco-printed with leaves
Sleeveless top eco-printed with leaves

and allowed to rest.  But because I am so

Abstract detail on Sleeveless eco-printed top
Abstract detail on Sleeveless eco-printed top
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GAP T-shirt printed with Japanese maple leaves

impatient, I did unroll the still wet sleeveless top first.  I set aside the other two tops to dry, but couldn’t resist opening the GAP top later in the evening.  The Tahari top was allowed to dry for two days, and then was unrolled.

How did they turn out?  You can see from the

Detail GAP T-SHIRT (Japanese maple leaves show green)
Detail GAP T-SHIRT (Japanese maple leaves show green)

photos below.  I am pleased and thrilled with the rebirth of my garments and am happily wearing all three–but not at the same time.

 Tahari top with smokebush leaves detail
Tahari top with smokebush leaves detail
Eco-printed Tahari T-top (loropetalum leaves front and center)
Eco-printed Tahari T-top (loropetalum leaves front and center)

Natural Dyes…with a little help from my friends

It’s great to have friends in various regions in the USA so that my natural dyeing can be supplemented by flora and fauna not available to a big city girl.  So recently I received a bounty from friends in Texas and California, namely plum and maple leaves and “balls” from the sweet gum tree (also known as liquidambar).

I could not find any research predicting color from the sweet gum tree balls, but someone in Australia blogged that their gum tree leaves produce good color.  Different species, different part of the plant.  So I decided to experiment with the gum balls by soaking them in plain water and using the liquid to dye a few small pieces:  yarn, hemp/silk fabric scrap, and cotton crochet piece.  The warm brown tones achieved were similar to those I achieved when black walnut dyeing, perhaps a bit lighter.

Naturally dyed with sweet gum tree balls: hemp/silk, wool yarn, cotton crochet
Naturally dyed with sweet gum tree balls: hemp/silk, wool yarn, cotton crochet
Sweet Gum tree balls (liquidambar)
Sweet Gum tree balls (liquidambar)

Next I grabbed three varieties of leaves sent from Texas:  plum, Japanese Red Maple, and Loropetalum (which I believe to be the Chinese fringe flower).  Please keep in mind that I am not a botanist!

I arranged the leaves on a piece of hemp/silk fabric, shiny on one side and flat on the other side.  The leaves were placed in a random pattern, along with a couple of marigold flower heads.  The fabric–and I wish I had more of this lovely stuff–was rolled around a copper pipe and tied with cotton string.  I was very pleased with the results!  Thanks, Marilyn and Elizabeth!

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Eco-printing with Leaves in a Pomegranate Dye Pot

So many beautiful summer plants and flowers, so many possibilities for botanical printing!  With my coreopsis in full bloom and a surprise gift of smokebush leaves from a Texan friend, I fired up the dye pot (turned on the gas stove) to experiment with a different kind of dye bath.  Usually I use plain water to allow the plants to bring their own beauty to cloth, but this time I used pomegranate powder with a pinch of iron.

First I arranged a sandwich of cotton sheeting, homespun linen scrap, and a couple of small card stocks.  Wrapped in a square, it was clamped and set in the dye pot.

I  also rolled up a couple of copper pipes with various vintage linens and cloth scraps, using a few coreopsis and pink cosmos flowers, along with rose leaves.  I threw in a couple of smokebush leaves for good measure, rolled with cotton string and added to the dye pot.

After boiling for an hour and letting sit overnight on my deck, I unrolled the next morning to find a variety of effects.  I’m already thinking of the fun I will have with my next brew!

Full view coreopsis and rose leaves on cotton sheeting, eco-print clamped
Full view coreopsis and rose leaves on cotton sheeting, eco-print clamped
Smokebush and rose leaves on card stock
Smokebush and rose leaves on card stock
Coreopsis and rose leaf eco-printed on cotton sheeting
Coreopsis and rose leaf eco-printed on cotton sheeting
Wild rose leaves, coreopsis and cosmos on vintage buck towel
Wild rose leaves, coreopsis and cosmos on vintage cotton Huck towel
Eco-printed cotton sheeting in pomegranate and iron bath
Eco-printed cotton sheeting in pomegranate and iron bath

Dyeing with garden flowers and leaves: Early summer

Small annual and perennial garden flowers are blooming, and I couldn’t resist snipping a few, along with some leaves, for natural dyeing.  The flowers fade quickly, so the decision is whether to leave them alone to die or to clip a few and dye.

So I grabbed a few pansies, coreopsis and cosmos along with a few geranium leaves, false indigo leaves, and some golden barberry.  I used avocado pits and skins in the dye-pot and let them simmer for a couple of hours.  I was looking for a little color booster in addition to the colors I would achieve by simmering the plants on fiber.

In this experiment, I used bundled silk gauze and cotton sheeting as a sandwich with leaves and flowers as the filling.  I rolled it all around a small copper pipe, tied it with string and set it in the dye-pot.  Then I clamped a square bundle of cotton sheeting with plants in-between, and handmade paper as well.  Finally, I layered small torn pieces of a previously dyed large piece of Fabriano paper with small plant bits.

Bundles of paper and cloth were left to simmer in the avocado dye-pot for a couple of hours, then allowed to rest overnight.  The paper turned out fairly waterlogged and did not achieve a great deal of color.  However, I was very pleased with the silk & cotton sandwich.  Some of those bright colors you see were golden correopsis, pink cosmos and leaves, along with a pinky tinge from the avocado liquid.

I get the biggest thrill when unrolling the bundled packages!  You really should try this.

Handmade paper dyed with garden plants
Handmade paper dyed with garden plants
Cotton sheeting clamped in a square and dyed with plants
Cotton sheeting clamped in a square and dyed with plants
Garden flowers bundled and dyed on silk
Garden flowers bundled and dyed on silk
Garden plants bundled and dyed on cotton
Garden plants bundled and dyed on cotton
Bundled silk and cotton rolled and dyed with flowers and plants
Bundled silk and cotton rolled and dyed with flowers and plants