August 09, 2011

Eco Dyeing

I mentioned India Flint back at the beginning of July when I returned from Minneapolis and the Surface Design conference - but she has taken over my summer!

I got her first book out of the library: ECO COLOUR: BOTANICAL DYES FOR BEAUTIFUL TEXTILES and have read it cover to cover, as she explains her philosophy of ecologically sound dyeing practices. Even better is an article written by her explaining her process in the e-zine HandEye seen here.

I started playing with my friend Nancy, while we spent time in the woods of the central Alberta foothills. I taught her the Hedi Kyle book structure that India used in her class at SDA - the blizzard book. An amazing structure in itself as it creates its own spine, all with origami folds. We filled it with 'windfall' collected from a foraging walk and slightly simmered it in a pot of iron fillings and used tea bags.

The book, out of Arches Text Wove paper, loaded with leaves and flowers and clamped into a bundle:

the pot ready for action:

and the bundles dripping dry after being 'cooked':

opening up, the discarded plant material in front:

opened pages:

another sheaf of pages done at the same time - contains rosebush leaves + aspen + poplar + willow with an iron mordant. And then the finished product, bound:

These pages were done with a copper mordant. Poplar branch print, then bound into book:

But those books just started the process for me. When I returned to Calgary I moved to cloth and have bundles tied and am waiting... waiting.. waiting... for the magic. They are out on the deck, drying in the shade. India says the longer you can hold off and wait for the micro-organisms to do their thing, the better the prints will be - so I haven't touched any of them yet - more in the future (about a month's time) with the final prints...

Here are some bundles drying in the sun after last night's heavy downpour (they were in the shade before that!) - lovely colouring happening already!:

A couple bundles wrapped in a black trash bag to intensify the sun's heat:

And "sun dyeing" - putting rolled bundles into a sealed jar with various mordants (these are using pickle juice and coffee) and just waiting for the sun to do its thing:

Meanwhile, at the cabin I started rust dyeing (in reality 'staining') with the lovely pieces of rusted steel that has been collected for me from a friend on Vancouver Island and her beachfront house. (Thanks Ros!!!) Over a couple of summers, she would collect anything she found on her morning walks at low tide and haul it back across the mountains to Calgary. I got nails, bolts, spikes, chains, cans, pipes, including many unidentifiable items. I wrapped the pieces in cottons and silks and left it out on the deck for a month and just last week I opened them.

Some of the bundles (I had 20), still wrapped:

The box of used metal:

The opening of the packages and initial rinsing:

The pieces hanging to dry:

And the best piece, from an extremely heavy iron chain:

A summer of fun!!!


Arty Nancy said...

what great pics of your (and partly Nan's..) eco dyeing journey! Love it. Super reference. Thanks for posting.

ReBecca Paterson said...

love the books!! I too have been reading and experimenting with the naturals, will post some pics later

Donna Clement said...

and ReBecca, aren't you focusing on wool now? That should make for spectacular results (or at least for eucalyptus!)

You did read my note in the newsletter that she is coming to NSCAD in October, didn't you??

ReBecca Paterson said...

I knew that she was coming but not a good time for me to attend. Hope she rtns in the near future.

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