Due to an extended vacation in Norway, I am late getting started on natural dyeing. My dye plants were late getting planted. And so I found myself at the beginning of July without having eco-dyed or printed.
To the rescue: my younger sis, Shar, has been wanting to learn to eco-dye and print, so we scheduled a session last weekend. Everything was set up here, and she scoured her T-shirts as directed. When she arrived, we immediately mordanted her cotton clothing, allowing an hour or so for the process. Yes, we could have used additional time, but we needed to get moving on the printing process.
I had previously prepared a pot of black walnut and pomegranate liquid, to which I added hot water and a pinch of logwood powder (Shar likes dark colors). She rolled one shirt with fresh plant leaves only, using a bit of iron solution for dipping. She rolled the second shirt shibori style with tiles, CD’s and other mark-makers.
We didn’t have all day to wait for the pot to do its magic, so I sent her home with the pot and instructions to leave all materials overnight. Results:
I finally took the opportunity to eco-print with my fresh eucalyptus over the weekend. Whole Foods surprised me last week with a small selection of eucalyptus branches. I recognized the shape immediately, and I was told by the manager of the floral department that they would be stocking eucalyptus through the Thanksgiving holidays.
Gathering my previously mordanted fabric scraps (wool and silk), I got a pot boiling and steamed the wool and silk, after laying out the eucalyptus leaves, along with a few wild rose leaves. I was pleased with the results, particularly the small scrap of dupioni silk (below, right). The wool was not as clearly printed (right), but I noted that my handmade white pre-felt was uneven in texture.
Not willing to quit while I was ahead, I decided to print two camisoles that I had previously mordanted and stored in the refrigerator this summer.
Both the silk camisole and sweet gathered cotton top printed well. They included eucalyptus, rose and geranium leaves.
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!