Eco dyeing is one of the latest techniques making the art quilt rounds. Essentially, you use plant materials to color fabric. I had a chance to try it at a recent quilting getaway.
We gathered bits of silk, linen and cotton (this had to be mordanted with alum first); wet them; covered them with the plant material; wrapped them around a stick or pipe; and tied them tightly. Here’s our plant material buffet.
Alas, none of those lovely flower colors came through; our results ran to the green/gray/black spectrum with a bit of yellow from turmeric root. We tried to get lime green with lemon slices and chopped fresh garlic, but all that did was make our fabric smell bad.
After boiling our bundles for a few hours we pulled them out of the water and set them out on the back porch to cure. They were supposed to remain wrapped up for a few days, but you would have thought we were kids at Christmas. I think three bundles remained intact for a few days. The rest were torn into eagerly.
My fellow dyers achieved better results than I did. I’ll use my cloth, but I don’t expect to make it the star. I understand better why aniline dyes were so thrilling when they were introduced. Brown and green clothing are same old, same old after a century or so.