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To Live is to Dye

The other day I took a break from threading my loom (more on that later) to have some fun with eco-dyeing.


I had read India Flint’s book, Eco Colour (several times) and had worked with vegetable dyes in the 70’s when I was a student at Kent State. Since then I have used synthetic (fiber reactive) dyes, which I love, but I  had a hankering to once again discover the colors found in nature. I ordered some wool and silk/wool blend scarves from Dharma Trading Co. This is so much easier and quicker than weaving fabric on which to experiment. I arranged eucalyptus leaves on 2 wool scarves and rolled them into bundles secured with rubber bands and string’


After steaming on the stove for 2 hours and letting them cure overnight, I had the anticipation of Christmas morning as I opened the bundles…


They looked great when still wet, but dried to a much  more faded tone, which was disappointing.


I decided to dye them again, this time simmering them in the dye pot rather than steaming. Eucalyptus leaves require more heat to impart the beautiful reds that I was expecting. The dye was made by boiling chopped up eucalyptus leaves in distilled water.


When the wool bundles were immersed in the dye, much to my surprise, they floated… I had to employ some helpers to hold them under the surface.


The results from the eucalyptus leaves were much more satisfying.




However, the elderberry and maple leaves produced much less vibrant images. They actually seemed to act as a resist to the dye bath while depositing just a hint of green.


Some stitching helps a little, but I may just cut this one up and use it for encaustic.




    • Thank you! Yes, the smell of eucalyptus simmering on the stove is lovely. It reminds me of the area around my son’s house on the Big Island of Hawaii!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Sheila Rogers

      Your hard work and dedication to this art really shows through. I’m glad I happened upon your blog. I’m very impressed. I don’t work with threads and cloth, but I do love beautiful things and THIS is ART. Thank you for sharing.


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