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Eco Dyeing: A Small Success Can Become Fuel For Further Experiments

A piece of white vintage kimono bundled, steamed and dried. Oh! lala..those glorious colors!
You never know when a chance bit of information can your current direction on it's ear. When my friend Janet and I went to Tacoma, Washington for the Association of Pacific West Quilters she was reading this book by master eco dyer India Flint. Janet had mentioned the process to me when she returned from her silk studies class in Japan but I'm not sure how much I understood.  The book made the process a bit more clear to me and I had to buy the books. If you've never read any of India Flints work - you should. She a casual, slightly humorous style that is fun to read and the dyeing information she relates is really fascinating...another whole dyeing concept. It made me wish for some local eucalyptus leaves to play with! India Flint's blog is a treat as well.
I think is India Flint's first book - it is, at least my first of her books and I love it

I do have to admit to quite a being discouraged by the results I had gotten with my experiments  before today. The colors I got tended towards muck and the leaf imprints were iffy at best. I considered returning to 'comfort zone' of regular dyeing and leaf imprints with inks and paints. 

Today I decided to just change it up a bit and give it one more try before I was hopelessly lost. I began with a base of newspaper upon which I laid a piece of white vintage kimono silk with a love watery looking pattern. On top of that I layered some leaves we had collected from Shaw Island (with discouraging result in two earlier experiments). I placed a layer of crisp silk chiffon on top of that and then carefully rolled the fabric layers up into a small bundle. The newspaper got deep sixed having completed it's position as a supportive player. I carefully tied the bundle with string and put in a ceramic Corning Ware pot (now relegated for dyes). I decided, just for the heck of it, to add a smidgen of Iron in the water bath. The bundled simmered on the stove top for about an hour and then the bowl was placed on top of our stove (gas) to cool down. Next I took the bundle out and blocked out as much water as I could and set the bundle on top of out stove top water supply.
Another look at the vintage kimono silk. The pattern really worked with the colors. What a surprise!
As it came time time unwrap the bundle I was honestly not expecting much success. I hat no reason to hope for anything more than more muck. Surprise ! I was thrilled with the results I got. Depth of colors grey, green, lavender, yellow, brown. Yum!

With such vivid success on the kimono silk I was really not holding out much hope for the silk chiffon. Once again though I was left some what amazed at the rich, earthy colors and the distinct outline of the leaf prints! Finally! I am so stoked by these results that I am, once again, charged to try a bevy of more blossoms and leaves. Any one have some eucalyptus they can send? I'm ready for more eco dyeing awe ! Glad that I decided to give it one more try!
Check it out ! Yahoo!
An area with a bit more saturation and a bit more blue and grey
Here are the mystery leaves we picked on Shaw Island. They were red and lovely and, obviously very rich in tannin . Does anyone know what this tree might be. I can ask a friend who goes to the community center over there more often to check for me.


  1. Fantastic are terrible...send them to me and I will get rid of them for you!

  2. Wonderful!!! I too have had fits with trying to dye with plant material, but each time I get a little closer to the results I want. Since it is winter and my dyeing with MX dyes is a summer activity, I am going to keep collecting and experimenting. The leaves might be Norway Maple. Dogwood berries are supposed to give black, I would think that Salal berries might give some color also. I picked up some eucalyptus at Fred Meyer and had medium sucess. Good luck!


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