Tuesday, August 18, 2009

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.
http://prophet-of-bloom.blogspot.com/ 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

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