Friday, August 19, 2011

Solar Dyeing

The hot, sunny days we've been having are perfect for dyeing with plant materials.  I prefer the "no-cook" method to natural dyes and let the sun do the "cooking" for me. The technique is pretty simple, just place your pre-mordanted fabric or fibers in a container, layer with flowers, leaves or twigs, cover with water and let sit in the sun. These pots have been out since Tuesday.  I'm using esperanza and crape myrtle blooms, firebush, bay and rose leaves, and pecan husks.

My approach to natural dyes is to use what I have at hand - plants growing in my yard or items I can get at the grocery store.  I also use only non-toxic mordants. I had previously avoided natural dyes because of the mordants.  After reading India Flint's book, Eco Colour, a few years ago, I became interested in her approach. One of the techniques she discusses is bundling the fabric and plant materials and letting them sit for a few weeks so that as the plant decomposes, the natural colors are released into the fabric. Below are some of my experiments with the bundling technique.

Multiple varieties of leaves, and multiple layers of bundling

Dried hibiscus flowers

Red onion skins

Red rose petals

If this has sparked your interest, view my recommended reading list for other books about natural dyeing.

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