Having sensitivities to chemicals, I am always on the look out for art and textile practices that are light on the use of artificial dyes, chemicals and the like.
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to learn the art of eco-dyeing, which put simply is using plant material to dye and imprint natural fibre. Unlike other forms of dyeing no chemicals are added to the dye pot. The plant material is simply rolled up, tied and then placed in a boiling pot of water, and boiled for an hour.
Whilst plants do contain chemicals and care must be taken in the process of collecting plant matter and during dyeing, the process does not result in any toxic residue or require large amounts of water (as say in indigo dyeing). In this respect it is is a more ecologically sound practice.
To enable the dye from the plant to “take” to the fabric different pots can be used –stainless steel may give different results from say aluminium.
We added a few rusty iron nails, which apparently assists in the process.
Care must be taken to only use the dyeing pot for the purposes of dyeing, not to eat from! And always ensure good ventilation when boiling the plant material and cover your hands with gloves when handling the fabric.
Below is a slide show of the process. I hope you will be inspired to give it a go. For more information, a great book to start with is “Eco- Dyeing” by India Flint.
I’m looking forward to doing lots of experiments on large swathes of fabric !