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Experiments in Eco-Dyeing

I have always admired the clothes of India Flint, the eco-dyer, alchemist and wanderer from Australia. A couple of years ago I tried eco-dyeing my own clothes following tutorials on various blogs, such as Threadborne, as I couldn’t find a workshop. This year, I’ve experimented once again.

I bought various chemicals – soda ash and aluminium acetate – from Wild Colours and foraged for leaves while out on a walk in the country.

Hedgerow near High Park Corner.

I chose Turkey Oak leaves as I like their pointed shape and I didn’t come across a native oak on this particular walk.

Turkey Oak Leaves
Turkey Oak Leaves

My basic method was as follows. First I scoured the t-shirts to remove any greese and dirt they may have accumulated during the manufacturing process. This involved boiling the t-shirts for two hours in water with soda ash. I followed the method here. Then I mordanted the cotton with aluminium acetate following the procedure here. Following that I was ready to dye.

I laid out each t-shirt and arranged the leaves on one side. Then I rolled each t-shirt up around pieces of copper pipe and tied up the bundles with string. Ready for the pot. In they went with water, more leaves and some pieces of iron I’d found from somewhere. The iron and copper act as mordants helping the leaf pigments bind to the fabric. I boiled/simmered the pot for an hour or so, allowed the water to cool and then unwrapped the bundles. Here are the results:

Leaf Dyed T-shirt
Leaf Dyed T-shirt
Leaf Dyed T-shirt
Leaf Dyed T-shirt

I made some labels,

Leaf Dyed T-shirt Label

and listed them for sale in my online shop here and in my Folksy Shop.

I’ve found it’s another way to relate to the natural world – and blend in!

By the way my website shop has had a revamp. It now works even better and has all the products for sale in my Etsy and Floksy shops and more.

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