The Colorado summer has kept me from the computer for awhile! But I have been busy natural dyeing silk fabric.  My idea of summer fun is to try out natural dye plants from my area. Or to try discovering new ones! This summer’s great adventure was experimenting with eco-printing, in the style of India Flint. I am far from an expert in it yet, but I learn something with every try.

six silk bundles June 2014 1991x1493
Bundles of silk fabric tied around sticks or pieces of rusty iron or copper pipe, after boiling. This fabric was pre-mordanted with alum, and soaked in vinegar for about an hour before boiling in a water/vinegar bath. The leaves made their own dye bath, making everything dark green on the outside of the fabric.


leaves still sandwiched 1126x1501
After boiling, and opening the bundle, the soggy leaves need to be peeled off the silk fabric.


maple leaf faint print 1991x1493
At first I was disappointed at the faintness of many of the leaf prints, but I’ve grown to love these ghosts of leaves past.” The spirit of this maple leaf was captured on silk by eco-printing magic.


silks eco printed solar not ironed rust and copper
Various colors from iron. Whatever leaves were in the bundle influenced the color. The rusty chunk of iron made very orange color at first, but makes black now that I’ve boiled it several times. I don’t know why the change. Any ideas?


eco printing natural dyeing
A bundle of silk fabric with leaves and turmeric powder, ready to boil for eco printing.



silk fabric natural dyed eco printing
The resulting fabric. The black dots are from honeysuckle blossoms and turmeric made the yellow color all over. Any leaf prints are very subtle on this one. It’s mostly about the wash of color.


Solar dyed natural dyeing eco printing silk bundle
This bundle was tyed around an elm sitck, and left in a black plastic bag in the Colorado sun for three days, soaking in vinegar. There was one bundle in the bag with iron at the core, and the color bleeding out from that “saddened” any fabric which touched it. The color was more intense with solar than with boiling,. But that long in vinegar was too harsh for the delicate silk, and it ate tiny holes in places where the fabric was folded.
solar natural tie dyeing
Unwrapping the solar dyed bundle.
leaf prints on paper
Eco printed paper, using iron dipped leaves pressed against tea-washed paper, and left in the sun for three days. It was starting to smell pretty funky.

If you’re interested in learning more about this technique, click on the picture below. India Flint was the pioneer of this technique, and her book is still one of the best out there.


Other pages you might be interested in:

 Dyeing .


Bloodroot dyed yarn
Dyeing with Bloodroot


Copyright ©  2015 – 2018 Kelley Adams.  All rights reserved.

All text, photos, and graphics are the property of Kelley Adams unless credit is given to an alternative source.

2 thoughts on “Summer Dyeing

    1. I make a solution of iron with old nails in vinegar. The nails will rust and eventually disappear, leaving an iron solution to dip or paint onto natural dyes. Any dye with tannic acid present will turn black.

      Dipping the leaves into the iron water tends to create a shadow-like black outline around the leaf, no matter what color the leaf itself leaves on the paper or cloth.

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