Thursday, December 5, 2013

Leaves Leaves Leaves

For a few months now I've been reading India Flint's book Eco Colour and have been saving leaves and onion peels and avocado pits in hopes of eventually dyeing stuff.  Eco Color by India Flint

Robert and I went for a walk on Thanksgiving morning and we collected Liquid Amber, Plum, and Sycamore leaves.  First we put the leaves on our dinner table and then I used them for a dye experiment.

I loved the amber leaves so much I didn't want to ruin them!  But eventually I got over that and started my experiment.  I purchased a 1/2 yard of dupioni silk and which takes this type of dyeing very well  and doesn't require a mordant.  Apparently there is some sort of opposites attract chemical effect that happens.  Basically there are two types of natural fiber; cellulose - cotton, linen and other plant derived fibers, and protein -  wool, silk, all animal fibers.  Since the leaves are cellulose they color is attracted to it's opposite protein.  There is an entire extra process of mordanting required to get the color to bond with cellulose fibers.
I also have a eucalyptus tree in my backyard so I took some of the leaves and laid them on the silk as well.  Also you see in the upper right some plum leaves that I found on my walk.

I rolled the leaves up into a little silk burrito.

 And I also took a piece of wool fabric leftover from a table runner I had woven and made another experiment with some more eucalyptus leaves.  Isn't it interesting that all these eucalyptus leaves are from the same tree?
 I put my little silk wool and leaf burritos into a steamer and let it steam for a long time...over an hour. Here it is part way through the process.
 You can see the imprint of the leaves coming through the silk.
 Here are the freshly unwrapped bundles while the are still wet.  They smelled really nice something you don't get when you do chemical dyes.  Also as long as your leaves are not poisonous and you don't use dangerous mordants this process is completely free of toxins.  It's important to remember that there are some extremely toxic plants and mordants and be sure you know what you are using.  If you use poinsettia flowers the fabric cannot even be worn on the skin it is that highly poisonous!
Freshly unwrapped silk & leaves.

Plum leaf print while wet

The wool didn't come out as well. Because of an injury to my arm I didn't wrap the bundles very tightly and I believe this had an effect on the experiment.  So next time I will wrap it tighter.  After unrolling the fabric I allowed it to dry overnight and then ironed it.  The colors were very subtle and beautiful.  I like the fact that they were not highly saturated, but will continue experimenting with this process and see what happens.

Next I will be dyeing several silk shirts that I purchased at a thrift store.  I will continue to document the results here!
                                              Above is the plum imprint after being dried and ironed.
The yellow leave is from a sycamore tree.  The red is from a
liquid amber tree.

Monday, December 2, 2013

What's up Buttercup?

 Don't you love the fall season?  I do!  It is wonderful and all the crunchy leaves inspire me to take more pictures than any other season.  I am about to embark on a new experiment with these leaves too. I've been gather lots of natural materials for natural dye experiments.  I promise to keep you posted on my outcomes.  

I've been busy doing a little vending of my wares.  So today I will access what I still have available and start posting for sale on Etsy soon.  
  In the meantime I have reopened my shop and dropped some prices as a holiday special!

My craft group friends and I put on a holiday craft sale called "Escape from the Mall" on Saturday.  This was the second one we've done, the first was two years ago and I hosted it at my home.  In the future I hope to keep doing more shows.  I have dreams of grandeur!  Dreams of a fabulous large craft show across the street from our local mall one day with music and food and fun!  I like to dream big!