Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Jun 30, 2014

Botanical Dyeing

I have no idea if I'm doing this right  (I suspect there are a lot of "right" ways), but I like the results.

Trying to keep my granddaughter occupied on Saturday, I hit on the idea of doing an experiment in eco or botanical dyeing. I'm sure that there are better ways to do this, ones that might make the results less fugitive, but I played it by ear. It was an experiment after all.

First, we  ripped up a section of an old cotton sheet I thrifted some time ago.  She really enjoyed learning how you can make a tiny cut with scissors, then rip and wind up with  nice straight edges. I love the look of a ripped edge, with the threads unraveling here and there.

Then we went outside and gathered our botanicals:  mint leaves, clover blossoms, melissa, fallen petals, Along with a handful of black raspberries from a local farm, we were ready.

We each placed things randomly, folded the sheets, then rolled them around a stick and tied them.

We popped them into a steamer basket and pot that I have reserved for dyeing only.  I let them steam for four hours, adding water now and then. Then I let them sit awhile.

After unrolling and picking off the botanicals, I rinsed them in cool water, then gave them a dip in a vinegar/water bath and rinsed again.  Thinking dryer heat might help set the stains (yup, that's what this is: conscious stain-making), I dried them in the dryer. Then I ironed them.

And I think our experiment was a success!  I hesitate to make anything from these that might need regular washing, but I am definitely brainstorming other ways to use these textiles.