Blooming Eco-plants & Project Deux

My eco-plants are blooming, which is making me very pleased and excited for the coming season of eco-printing and natural dyeing.  Some of these plants are newish–just planted last autumn–so they have not been tested yet.  Primarily I am talking about the Japanese maple tree and lily of the valley, both of which appeared to be dying last winter.  But they are alive!

Lily of the valley plant in bloom
Japanese maple looking very much alive!

I know that the Japanese maple leaf will probably print well, as friends gave me samples last “printing” season.  I’m unsure what can be done with the lily of the valley, but I really planted it because I have fond memories of collecting these for the May Queen (Catholic grade school).

And then there are last year’s proven eco-printers:  wild rose, golden barberry and false indigo (turns yellow instead of blue).

Wild rosebushes (left) and golden barberry (right)
Japanese (false) indigo plant just sprouting (dark green, center)

And one last note:  I have been working on slow-stitching Project Deux, which started out as our planetary system but which is now evolving in a different way.  Stay tuned.

Project Deux
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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
IMG_2288
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)