a journal: textiles, inspiration, musings

Notes from Novice Eco Dyer

The experimenting has been going on for months, but I have found eco-dyeing to be quite a humbling process; just when I think I have nailed a process, the next lot of fabric comes out of the pot murky, dull or just plain awful! Some notes to self at this stage:

  1. My dad used to quote: “Blunt pencil better than sharp memory” ………

…and he was right, when it comes to eco-dyeing experiments, often the best results I have had seem to be the ones where I have lost track of the process I used, and that can be a bit frustrating; am trying very hard to at least scribble down some notes before I put pot on stove

  1. PATIENCE PAYS……… definitely; am learning to let dyed fabrics sit and cure, I dry them, even iron them, and then wait as long as I can [at this stage a week or two but I am sure longer would be better….] then when I wash them out there seems to be very little colour coming out of them and the results are much better.
  2. There is a LOT of info online and in books. Reading about other people’s experiences can be very helpful, and save a lot of grief repeating mistakes that seasoned dyers already know about; on the other hand it can be also very confusing, as there are quite a lot of diverse opinions. So I will keep reading, but also keep trying some things out for myself especially when there is debate.
  3. Playing with mordants, after-baths, combining different dyestuffs is addictive, time consuming but definitely worth it….which is where point 1 comes in!!!
  4. I can get lovely colours from powdered natural dyes, but it is not nearly as satisfying as getting them from my own gathered plants, even though the results are much less predictable and often need over-dyeing. Also not at all happy about not knowing the provenance of a lot of the powered dyes…..
  5. Overdyeing can work beautifully …..it gives the opportunity for complex patterns and colours to emerge……
  6. Every new day in the dyeing space is an adventure , new experiments planned and new gifts emerging from the dyepots…
  7. I have started attempting to dye garments at last, until now it’s been bits of fabric for slow stitching………….love the process, ethos, practicality of eco-dyeing clothing; India Flint’s books are an inspiration, wealth of info and need to be read again and again to absorb everything she has to say. Workshop coming up soon……can’t wait!!

Still hoping for: strong red markings ; I have had trouble finding the right eucalyptus plants but have had a small taste with a few small pieces I’ve used in my Eucalyptus Cloth [work in progress!]…..

also still looking for stronger prints on the garments I have dyed so far….but the process is magical, addictive and so much fun.

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