2019 Explorations 2: Eco-Dying

Published by


Continuing the review of new art forms I explored in 2019, learning eco-dying in Dereel was a surprising pleasure. This beginner’s workshop was run by Irene Pagram from Colac as part of the Art In Dereel workshop program.

The full day workshop was divided into two parts. Jane Bear, also from Colac, ran a felting workshop in the second half of the day.
I enjoyed the felt making and was pleased with the felt bowl I created. Physically, the repeated rolling of the wet fibers took a toll on me, with my recovering spine objecting to the movement. Jane is very skilled, and I enjoyed the workshop, so I may return to felting when I feel stronger.

Learning Eco-Dye

The eco-dying process uses natural oils from leaves, bark, peel, etc to create colourful patterns on natural fibers, without the use of added chemicals. In the workshop, Irene brought along a range of eucalyptus leaves, lemon peel, grape vine leaves, petals from various flowers, onion skins and a few other bits and pieces. We made patterns with these on swatches of pure wool, silk and watercolour paper.

Eco-dying avoids using chemicals as a mordant. In place of this, the fabric and paper are wrapped around items made from iron, copper or aluminium. This acts to fix the dye to the fabric through boiling the tightly bound fibres and leaves together for a couple of hours. The results are just stunning!

Further explorations in eco-dying are on my list of things to do. The secret is to know which species of eucalypt will produce colour, and how strong the colour will be. It will be a hit and miss process, but with a bit of luck, I am hoping to produce some interesting patterns made with leaves from our property.

%d bloggers like this: