Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Dye Day

Sue checks the pots of boiling water and adds leaves, skins and branches to start the dye baths

With heads filled with ideas and dreams of creating beautifully coloured textiles, a group of dyers met for the first Eco Colour Odyssey dye day at Sue Heydon's lovely home in July to wrap and stitch and boil chunks of silk and wool.

Sue has been a most prolific experimenter and her box of cannelloni-like rolls of wool and silk are a testament to her ability to try any combination of plant and mordant in order to get colour into fabric.
A landskin was the first large project to be attempted at India Flint's workshop and some of the dyers took work away to complete at home and we didn't get a chance to see their finished piece.
The landskin was a collage onto a merino wool base of gauze, embroidery and embellishment with other fabrics. Leaves and flowers were then laid out onto the base and the whole piece wrapped tightly and bound with string or lace. Metallic objects might also have been wrapped into the package to act as mordants. Then the bundle was plunged into boiling vats of onion skins, ake ake leaves, eucaplytus or any number of pots of leafy water.
India's advice to leave it for as long as possible, 'so magic can happen' was perhaps the most challenging of instructions for any of us during the workshop, so impatient were we to unwrap and see...but by the time the dye day came around, we had learned a lot of patience. Sue has a bundle that she intends to leave for some months....before unwrapping.
Chris, one of the less patient dyers, had finished her landskin during the workshop week and has since turned it into a very warm blouse. The landskin can be cut on any angle as it is free from grain and therefore economical and every piece used. Chris has trimmed her blouse with silk also wrapped and dyed during the workshop.

Chris has made her landskin into a garment trimmed with silk. In the background, is a jacket and dress that Sue has dyed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sally and Jo share the wonders of Eco Colour with the Nelson Creative Fibre Group. Maria was there to add her bit about needing to look at things like environmental responsibility and working with plant dyes with new eyes. The Ice Flower demonstration certainly got some excited reactions as the colour magically appeared when the frozen flowers went into the warm water.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Next Dye Day

Sunday 20 September at Judy Keylock's. 10.30 - 4.00
$10 per person to cover power, firewood and tea and coffee.
Bring you own lunch, dye pot(s), dye materials etc etc.
For further info and to "register" contact Jo on 546 6791 or email at Yippee - a spring dye up!!

Welcome to our blog

Wool and silk fabrics coloured with ice flowers, eucalyptus and other plant materials

Eco Colour Odyssey is a group of experiementers fascinated by how Mother Nature's gifts of flowers, leaves and minerals, water and heat, can be used to colour and embellish, with beautiful mark making, natural textiles of wool and silk.
The group has continued to meet following an initial workshop guided by India Flint, an Australian Eco Dyer, author and artist. India Flint's Blog
Group members gather intermittently at friend's homes where there is space for an open fire. We set to making a fire pit into which huge pots of water are put to heat. At times we feel a little 'witchy' as we collect windfall treasures and lay them onto beds of silk or wool then roll and bind them into glorious bundles made weighty with the addition of iron nails or an old rusted bolt. The bundles are plunged then into the bubbling cauldrons of water to which onion skins or eucalypt leaves have been added - and are left alone to simmer for many hours - for it is within those hours that magic happens.
A layer of silk coloured with leaves, stems of lavender and geranium petals.
Bound and submersed in a boiling vat of eucalyptus for three hours and left for a week to steep and stew, at the moment of unbinding the silk reveals the magic that is eco-dyeing.

There is much to learn about working with these wonderful gifts and observing stringent safety guidelines is first and foremost. As dyeing is, in its most basic form, the reaction of chemicals to heat, those working with plants must be aware of poisons that lurk within the plant's cells that maybe released during the process. Far from being a deterrent however, this new knowledge imparts the joy of enlightenment, or, of discovery and our minds expand to encompass possibilities in textile design that we had not considered ourselves capable of achieving with such meagre resources.

Mark making on raw silk - dyed in a bubbling cauldron of ake ake leaves, this textile bundle contained iron nails and was bound with lace which gives the beatiful shibori-like patterning to the fabric's surface.

The purpose of our blog is to provide a space to share with others, some of our discoveries and sucesses - to warn of precautions to be taken when choosing this fascinating method of treating textiles and mostly to remind our group's members of the enjoyment of working together to revive ancient methods of making textiles more beautiful.

Chris McGuigan