Plum and Eucalyptus Leaf Printed Scarf

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Hello dear readers! I was taking a walk the other day when I noticed some ornamental plum trees in an open space area. I recalled reading that they could be used for dye so I plucked a few leaves. The color of the leaves was really gorgeous and the leaf shape was pleasingly simple so I decided that a leaf printing technique would be fun to try on a silk chiffon scarf. My next thought was that the pretty purple would look great contrasted against the orange from eucalyptus leaves. Lucky for me, there was a eucalyptus tree just down the hill from the plum tree so I picked a few stems.

Materials:

  • Ornamental Plum Leaves
  • Eucalyptus leaves  – not all species are created equal, so please be sure that you are using leaves from a tree that will dye your fabric
  • Protein fiber such as silk or wool – I’m using an 11 x 90 inch silk chiffon scarf
  • Paper towels
  • Stick or dowel
  • Artificial sinew, twine or dental floss
  • Dye pot – please use a pot that is exclusively used for dyeing!
  • Steamer basket – again for dyeing purposes only!
  • Alum 

Tutorial

Step 1: Wet your fabric and fold it in half so that you can find the middle. Lay one half of your fabric on some paper towels and bunch up the remainder (see pic below).

FYI – I am doing this because I would like the same image on both sides of the scarf. By “sandwiching” your leaves your print will be repeated on either side of your piece.

Step 2: Lay out your leaves to create a pattern of some sort.

Step 3: Carefully place the second half of your fabric on top of the first. I’m not going to lie, this is a pain in the butt. You will probably have to go back and rearrange your leaves along the length of your fabric more than one time. I noticed that I would get one section right and then move on only to find that the prior section had shifted. Grrr! Hang in there, with a little patience and persistence you will get it done!

Here are steps 1-3:

Step 4: Place a stick or a dowel at one end of your scarf and roll tightly and smoothly making sure to include your paper towel. The paper towel will act as a barrier so that your fabric doesn’t bleed back onto itself. For a more eco friendly alternative you could use a scrap piece of fabric in place of the paper towels.

Step 5: Now that you have your cute little bundle, you will need to tie it tightly to hold everything together and to insure that the fabric and the leaves are nice and cozy. I’m using artificial sinew but you could easily use twine or dental floss (It probably goes without saying, but you will need to use the white stuff, no blue colored mint dental floss).

Step 6: Add an inch or so of water to your dedicated dye pot, put your steamer basket inside, add your bundle and put a lid on your pot. Turn your heat to high and bring your water to a boil. Once your water is boiling turn your heat to low and steam for 2 hours. I typically turn my bundle about half way through. I’m not sure if this does anything, but it makes me feel better. 🙂

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Step 7: Let your bundle cool in the pot and let it sit overnight.

Step 8: Unwrap your bundle and take a look. This is always my favorite part! However, my results were less than spectacular. 😦

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Okay, so here’s where I messed up. First I assumed that the tree that I got my leaves from was the same variety as the tree that I had previously obtained leaves from (they looked very similar). After this result, I took a closer look at my leaves and stems and I could clearly see that this was not the same species of eucalyptus (there are over 900 varieties!). Here they are side by side:

The leaves and stems on the right came from a red ironbark or sideroxylon tree that sits just behind my back fence. The leaves on the left were the ones that I used for this scarf. Below is an example of the result that I got from the red ironbark tree, quelle difference!

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And another thing…I failed to consider the fact that natural dyes fall into two categories, substantive and adjective. Substantive dyes don’t require a mordant or fixative to be permanent and light fast. Examples of substantive dyes are eucalyptus, turmeric, tea and onion skins. However, most natural dyes fall into the adjective category and require a fixative of some sort. The most basic mordants are salt and vinegar but natural dyers often use fixatives such as tannin or alum which are quite low in terms of their toxicity. This information is relevant to this discussion because while the eucalyptus is a substantive dye, the plum is not and it will most certainly fade if I don’t “fix” it.

Last but not least, although this doesn’t qualify as something that I messed up, I noticed that I got a good depth of color and detail from the front sides of the plum leaves while the backsides are pale and blobby. So, I’m back to the drawing board!

*To avoid having to make any corrections and to get a beautiful result from the get go I would do the following:

First, use the correct eucalyptus leaves! This may require a little research. Red ironbarks are relatively easy to spot because of their bright red stems (yes, I know that I screwed this up, please don’t remind me!). Silver dollar eucalyptus are also a good choice and you can generally pick them up at Trader Joes (in the US).

Now as for the plum leaves, I would simply double them up so that the face of the leaf is facing the fabric on both sides. With regard to “fixing” the plum leaves, you have a few options. You can pre-mordant your fabric or you can add your mordant to your dye bath. The second option is much faster and easier so I vote for that one! Instead of steaming your fabric bundle place it in a water bath that contains one gallon of water and one tablespoon of alum (or vinegar and tea – see below). Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for one hour. Turn off your heat and let your bundle soak for about 2-24 hours. 

Alright, if you’re interested in hearing the rest of this saga, sigh, here’s how I corrected my errors. First I laid out the half of my scarf with the “good’ plum print. Then I gathered a bunch of eucalyptus leaves that had fallen into my yard from the nearby tree and I placed them along the length of my scarf. Next I carefully put the second half of the fabric on top. This was still a bit tricky but it wasn’t as hard as it was the first time that I did it.  I then put some plum leaves onto the side of the fabric that didn’t print well. My guess is that they may bleed a bit onto the “good” side…so my fingers are crossed that this doesn’t totally mess that side up. I then laid more paper towels on top, placed my stick at one end and rolled the whole thing up.

After binding my bundle with sinew, I put it in a water bath that contained one part vinegar to four parts of water (I ran out of alum, so although alum would be my preference, I’m using vinegar instead).  I also added a tea bag to help soften the color and to aid in fixing the plum (the tannin in tea is a natural fixative). I then brought it to a boil, turned down the heat and let it simmer for one hour. Finally, I turned off the heat and I let the bundle soak for about 5 hours.

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This is how it looked when I unwrapped my bundle and let it dry:

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So the good news is that the eucalyptus is much better! The not so great news is that my plan to improve the plum leaves didn’t work out very well. They actually look worse. Because I am a perfectionist (which is truly a curse) and I simply can’t leave well enough alone, I got out some Inktense sticks and a little brown fabric paint and I went to work defining those plum leaves.

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After I was (finally) satisfied with my scarf, I let it cure for 24 hours and I heat set it before giving it a wash and hanging it to dry. Another quick press with my iron and it’s done…

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I think it’s really pretty and I learned a lot, so alls well that ends well. Thanks for hanging in there with me through this one!

Bleeding Tissue Paper Tutorial – Modern Throw Pillow

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Hello there! This is a very simple project. If you can cut strips of paper, you can do this. I mean it, no joke. So let’s dig in!

Materials:

Tutorial

Step 1: Add 2 tablespoons of soda ash to 4 cups of warm water. Give your soda ash a few minutes to dissolve and add your fabric. Soak for 15 – 30 minutes.

FYI – This bleeding tissue paper technique was one of the first methods that I ever used to dye fabric! I saw a tutorial on the Dharma Trading website and it seemed so easy. However, I had trouble with the dye not fixing well which resulted in faded fabric and/or dye that ran endlessly when the fabric was washed. I have since read suggestions to use a vinegar soak prior to dyeing or to spray the tissue with vinegar (in fact I think the Dharma site has changed their tutorial to include vinegar). However, I have also read multiple comments from folks saying that they still had problems with the color running. So this is where the soda ash comes in. Although it is more typically used as a fixative for fiber reactive dyes, it does a good job of fixing this dye. I have also noticed that some of the pillow cases that I made long ago without the use of vinegar or soda ash seemed to have fixed well after heat setting. However, these pieces sat for about a year before I heat set and washed them (I had tossed them aside since it had been such a struggle to set this dye!). So, maybe no fixative is required if you don’t wash your piece for a good long while. 🙂

P.S. – I have only used this product on silk, but from what I understand there are no restrictions on the type of fabric that you can use.

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Step 2: Wring out your fabric and lay your pillow case on a work surface. Make certain to smooth out your fabric as much as possible.

You may wish to use gloves to do this because although soda ash is no more toxic than laundry detergent (which typically contains a lot of soda ash) it can irritate your skin. If you choose not to wear gloves please be sure to wash your hands well after handling your fabric.

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Step 3: Grab one sheet of bleeding tissue paper in the color of your choice. I love the combination of black and white, but you can use whatever color or design you wish! I folded my paper in half and then in half again and I used a pencil and a yardstick to draw lines (some wide and some more narrow). I cut along the lines without being too finicky.

Step 4: Lay your tissue paper on your fabric. I like to spritz the paper with water and smush it down with my finger tips as I go to insure that the tissue is making good contact with the fabric.

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As you can see from the picture above, there is a colorful halo around the edges of the paper. The black bleeding tissue paper by Spectra Art is the only color that does this. The effect generally gets stronger as the paper dries…so fun!

Step 5: Once your pillow case and your tissue paper are completely dry lift up your paper and check out your design. If you are happy with your result, iron your fabric for three to five minutes to further set the color, wash it with a mild detergent and rinse until your water runs clear. Please note that even with the soda ash fixative you will still get some dye run off when you wash your fabric.

This is my result. I’m not thrilled with it, it’s just okay. I like how the lines look layered but I would like them to be much darker and more solid. Since I have plenty of tissue paper strips left, I’m going to go over my lines a second time. Fingers crossed!

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Step 6: I’m really hoping that you won’t need a step six, but I definitely do! I sprayed the pillow case with water until it was fairly saturated and then I laid down my strips and sprayed them with water.

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As you can see there is much more dye bleeding out around the edges this time. I think that this is because I used a much bigger spray bottle and my tissue paper was really wet. I have to say that I’m kinda loving the juxtaposition between the straight black lines and the more fluid lines where the dye is bleeding.

This is how it looked when it was dry and I pulled off all of the paper.

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The “halo” effect is much stronger this time and I’m kind of obsessed with the bright yellow and pink that showed up at the bottom. It’s so cool how the black tissue paper leaches out pink, yellow, and blue! But it totally makes sense since black is composed of red (magenta), yellow, and blue (cyan).

*If you end up doing another layer of tissue paper, don’t forget to heat set your fabric and wash it in a mild detergent. There is no need to do this in between each layer. It’s only necessary to complete this step when you are all done. 🙂

Now here it is after it was heat set, washed and ironed again to get the wrinkles out.

 

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The black faded a tiny bit but the biggest thing that I noticed is that most of the yellow and some of the pink washed out. 😦 It’s still really pretty but I wish that those colors had stayed put!

Now here’s the cover shot!

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Comments and questions are welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

Eco Dyed Easter Eggs

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Okay folks, my objective is to make these as simple as possible. Like me, I’m sure that many of you are busy parents, or simply busy people. So the thought of going to the trouble of eco dyeing eggs is a bit daunting especially when you can run to the store and buy those nasty little tablets and voila – dyed eggs! Yes, I’ve done it. Many times. But this year, I will be eco dyeing and it will not be difficult. Alright, so maybe it will be more work than those little tablets, but you will be able to rest easy knowing that your eggs are totally free of synthetic dyes. And that’s worth its weight in gold, right?!

Let me break it down for you. You only need to make three colors – the primary ones (red, blue, and yellow). All of the other colors will be derived from those colors. So if you’re up for doing that, then you’re good to go!

Materials:

  • Two dozen hard boiled eggs
  • Red beets (about three large)
  • Purple cabbage (about 1 medium sized head) – this will make blue dye!
  • Turmeric
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Pot for boiling
  • 6 glass jars with lids (the standard wide mouth Ball jars work great)

Tutorial

Step 1: Rough chop your beets until you have about 4 cups – I used three large beets. Rough chop your head of cabbage until you have 8 cups – I used one medium cabbage. For the turmeric you will need 2-4 tablespoons (depending upon how yellow you want your eggs). Place each dye stuff in a separate pot. Add 8 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of vinegar to each pot. Bring to a boil, turn your heat down to medium and set your timer for 30 minutes. Strain your liquid and put it back in your pot. The turmeric pot can remain as is – no straining needed. At this point, you can let your liquid cool off or not, it’s up to you. Since I’m Little Miss Impatient, I didn’t wait. 

 

Step 2: Put 4 hard boiled eggs into each of the 6 glass jars. Use a ladle to put your primary colors (red, blue, yellow) into three of your jars. Fill until your eggs are completely covered. Now you will need to mix your dye to get your secondary colors:

  • Orange – approximately 3/4 turmeric dye to 1/4 beet dye
  • Green – approximately 3/4 turmeric dye to 1/4 cabbage dye
  • Purple – approximately 3/4 cabbage dye to 1/4 beet dye

Next just let your eggs soak. You can check your colors periodically to see how they are doing. For pastels it will take 30-60 minutes. For darker colors it will take several hours. You can even let them sit overnight if you want really saturated colors. I would pop them in the refrigerator if you decide to do this.

Once I got all of my eggs in their jars I went outside to arrange a beautiful picture for you (my lovely readers). I put my glass jars in a pretty little row on top of a wood table that was set against a white canvas. Then BAM a gust of wind kicked up and the whole thing fell forward. I wanted to cry. Two jars broke – tiny shards of glass went EVERYWHERE and most of the eggs cracked. Total nightmare. I was able to salvage three jars. :/

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So after cleaning up my gigantic mess and walking away for a bit to clear my head, I decided to go ahead and photograph all of the eggs so that you could see the colors. I’m so sad that there are so many cracked eggs because they are really pretty. 😦

If you decide to try this (and I really hope that you do) I have a few words to the wise. This is not an exact science and as you will soon see…your colors don’t always come out exactly as predicted. But that’s half the fun, especially when you are eco dyeing! So feel free to experiment! Vary the duration of time that your eggs sit in the the dye so that you get a range of colors. Or change up the ratios of dye in your mixtures and see what happens. Last but not least, this project is on the stinky side. The cabbage doesn’t smell great and the combo with the beets and the turmeric isn’t wonderful. So open up your windows and dye some eggs!

Here they are. 🙂

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As you can see, my red went a little brown. I think it may have been because I threw some beet stems and roots into the mix. Of course this affected the secondary colors that I used it for…I don’t mind how the orange came out and the deep teal blue (last pic) is gorgeous but I was going for purple. I think this color was a result of the red being on the brown side and using too much blue in my mix. The variation in blues (bottom left) resulted from leaving the eggs in the dye for differing lengths of time. The lighter color took about 30 minutes while the darker blue took about three hours. You could get a beautiful ombre affect by using a dozen eggs and dyeing them in one color for differing lengths of time. Maybe next year. 🙂

Happy Easter!

 

Dyeing with Turmeric Shibori Style

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Hello Sunshine! I have been wanting to try turmeric dyeing for a while now. Some of the examples that I have seen online are really beautiful. Much like the spice itself, the yellow is super saturated and gorgeous like bright golden sunshine! I love saturated colors so this is right up my alley. I figured that a pillow case would be a good starting point. To add a design element I will be doing a stitch resist shibori technique.

Materials:

  • silk pillow case – animal or protein fibers such as silk and wool will dye brighter than plant based fibers such as cotton or hemp, but any natural fiber will work
  • something round – I’m using a ceramic plate
  • washable marker or a vanishing fabric marker
  • artificial sinew, embroidery floss, or dental floss
  • large pot – a dedicated dye pot is recommended
  • 8 cups of water
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of turmeric – I bought a jar at Trader Joes for $1.99
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of alum – this is a mordant or fixative, I buy mine here 

 Tutorial

Step 1: Create a simple design on your fabric. I traced around a plate with a washable marker

Step 2: Stitch around your circle as shown below. I’m using artificial sinew because it is waterproof and I’m hoping it will give me nice clean lines. Make certain that your sinew (or whatever) is long enough to go around your circle and that you are left with a long tail (this will make more sense in a minute). In order to accommodate the sinew, I’m using a largish embroidery needle. If you do the same, you will notice that the needle will make small holes in your fabric. Don’t freak out, it will be fine as long as you’re okay with the holes. 🙂 If you are not okay with them then use a smaller needle and dental floss or embroidery floss. I’m going through both layers of the pillow case at once but you could certainly limit your stitching to the top layer if you want the back of your pillow to be a solid color. I’m also weaving the needle through multiple times with each pass (which makes this process go so much faster!).

Step 3: Now pull your sinew tightly making sure to pull the fabric in the center of your circle straight up.

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Step 4: Take your tail (the one you left earlier) and bind the center of your circle with your sinew. I want a lot of white so I’m binding quite a bit of the fabric. I would also like a solid colored circle in the center so I’m leaving a bit of fabric at the top.

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Step 5: Put four cups of water into your pot with one heaping tablespoon of alum and four heaping tablespoons of turmeric. Turn your heat to high and give your powders a few minutes to dissolve.

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Step 6: Wet your fabric (wet fabric accepts dye more evenly) and put it in your pot. Bring to a simmer and turn your heat down. For a nice medium yellow set your timer for one hour.

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Step 7: Once you are happy with the color of your fabric take it out, give it a rinse, untie your sinew, rinse again until your water runs clear and let it air dry. Iron to get out any wrinkles and to increase the colorfastness of your fabric.

I wanted my color to be really saturated so after one hour was up, I turned off the heat and let it sit for about four hours.

Please note that turmeric can be a fugitive dye meaning that it may fade over time and/or with exposure to the sun. The alum and the heat setting will help to prevent this from happening. Additionally, protein fibers like silk and wool accept the dye more readily and are more colorfast than plant based fibers.

Here’s the finished product. The yellow is SO gorgeous and happy! The dye pot is calling me to throw something else in…perhaps a scarf this time?

If you would rather buy than DIY go here.

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Colorhue and Rust Dyed Pillow Case

 

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Okay, so I debated about posting this because I am essentially using the same technique that I used in my last Rust Dyed Pillow Covers post. Well, with one important exception. This pillow case was dyed with Colorhue Dye before I placed the rusty bits on top. So, I decided to take this opportunity to discuss these dyes. I’m also so enamored with the turquoise and rust color combination that I had to share my gorgeous pics!

I have used Colorhue dyes extensively in my work. They were the first dyes that I really dove into when making scarves. They are wonderful dyes but they aren’t perfect and I have had trouble finding ANYONE out there discussing the pitfalls of this dye. According to the Dharma Trading website they are instant set concentrated dyes that require no heat setting.

Well that’s not exactly true in my experience. After a tremendous amount of trial and error I have found that although these dyes do strike incredibly fast, they do indeed require a little help to be colorfast. Without heat setting I have found that the color will run endlessly in my wash water. Certain colors are worse than others (red, black, and brown) but they all do this to some extent. Additionally, the Dharma site says that it is difficult to get good depth of color and a dark black. Much to the contrary I have been able to get beautiful saturated color (including deep blacks) with these dyes.

At one point I called the manufacturer because I was SO frustrated with my inability to completely fix these dyes. They recommended soaking my textiles in vinegar before dyeing. I have found that a vinegar soak (15 – 30 minutes) helps but the most important step is heat setting. My first attempt at heat setting was to microwave my fabric for approximately 3 minutes in a glass Pyrex dish covered in plastic wrap. This required stopping every minute or so to allow the steam to settle so that my plastic wouldn’t explode (you can guess how I learned that this was a necessary step). Ultimately, I discovered that a hot iron placed on top of my bundle (through a cloth or paper towel) right after dyeing was the fastest and most efficient method for setting this dye. I do this for approximately three minutes (turning the fabric every minute or so and moving my iron continuously so that I don’t scorch the fabric) and then I give it a good wash before hanging it to dry. There will still be some excess dye in your wash water but it WILL stop and your dye will be permanent at this point.

You can easily mix these dyes to get more color variation and although they are expensive they do go a long way. You can dip dye with them and you can dye more precisely using a dropper (I like the glass ones). If you want to see lots of examples check out my Etsy site (many of my scarves have been dyed with Colorhue dyes). Oh, one last bit, these dyes ONLY work on silk or silk blends although some of the information that I have read says they work on cellulose fibers (not so much, ask me how I know!).

Materials:

  • silk
  • vinegar
  • Colorhue Dye
  • aluminum foil
  • rusty bits
  • bricks, pavers, or rocks
  • time!
  • Derwink Inktense sticks, So Soft fabric paint, Lumiere fabric paint (optional)
  • hot iron
  • mild detergent

Tutorial

Step 1: Soak your fabric in vinegar and then dip it in a bath of Colorhue dye for 10-15 seconds. This dye is water based and non toxic (making it a good choice when working with kids – but it will stain, so be careful). This dye is also a concentrate so you simply mix it with water until you achieve the color you desire. I often dip a small piece of paper towel in my dye to check the color – bearing in mind that it will look several shades lighter when it’s dry. Please note that I decided to hold off on heat setting until after I did my rust dyeing since both dyes require heat to set.

Step 2: Lay out your fabric as flat as possible on a layer of aluminum foil and place your metal bits on half of your fabric.

This color combination is ridiculous!!! My rusty bits have been sitting outside since my last project and it seems that abject neglect has served them well! Fingers crossed for some beautiful fabric!

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I had to include this one because it’s just so darn pretty!

Step 3: Fold your fabric on top of the first half being careful not to disturb your design.

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Step 4: Place another piece of foil on top and then lay something heavy on top of that to insure good contact between your fabric and your rusty stuff. In the last pillow cover tutorial I recommended that you seal your foil before placing your bricks (or whatever) on top. I have since read that air helps to facilitate the rusting process so I have decided not to seal the foil this time. It will be interesting to see if the rust transfers more quickly (last time it took three days).

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Step 5: Once you have achieved a color that you are satisfied with open things up and let your fabric completely dry out. It’s been two days and I’m loving the color, so maybe not sealing things up was a good idea?

Things are still wet here, so the color is darker than it will be, but I LOVE how the blue seems to be turning green around the rusty bits! Also bear in mind that the rusty pieces are still in place so the fabric will definitely look different when I open this up and the bits are removed.

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In fact, since it just needs to dry out I don’t see why I can’t open it up now?! My impatient nature strikes again! Here goes!

Wow. Sooooooooo pretty. It’s like a gorgeous painting and can I tell you how much I love the pops of orange and gold?! I wish I could leave the metal pieces in place! But alas, they must go…

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Still really pretty, but I’m missing the orange and gold (maybe a little embellishing is in order?). And this is still wet so I’m anxious to see how it looks when it’s dry…it’s interesting how the rust transferred more strongly on the right or top half. I like that there is some variation in the pattern and the green is really lovely.

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Step 6: Embellish, or not. I decided to go for it with these and this for a little bit of gold sparkle. I did this while it was still a bit wet because the Inktense sticks require moisture. I defined some of the squares with a grey/black Inktense stick and I added orange and red accents with the same product. I painted gold onto some of the squares which I realize is difficult to see in the pic below, but it is a nice addition.

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I just couldn’t leave well enough alone. :/ I was craving a more saturated turquoise, more contrast overall and a bigger pop of color…so it went back into the Colorhue dye for about 3 minutes. I like that the rusty areas went more brown and less orange (more like when it was wet) and I’m happy that the blue is deeper. I also did a bit more embellishing with this in Metallic Bronze and I darkened some of the outlines with a mix of brown and black fabric paint. It definitely has a Gustav Klimt vibe. 🙂

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Step 7: Let it “cure” for 24 hours.

Step 8: Iron on high for three minutes to set the color.

Step 9: Wash in a mild detergent. I used Synthrapol, which is a professional textile detergent, but any mild detergent or shampoo is fine (shampoo works great on protein fibers because hair is made out of protein). Hang to dry and iron.

Here it is! If you would rather buy then diy go here. 🙂

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Eucalyptus Leaf Print Tutorial

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Hello folks! If you read my first post on eucalyptus dyeing then you may have gathered that I was none too thrilled with my results. So I was determined to get back to it and see if I could get some crisp eucalyptus leaf prints. I figured that it might be nice to work on a smaller scale this time (or at least until I achieve a result that I am pleased with) so I will be using some silk pillow covers. Here goes!

Materials:

  • protein fiber such as silk or wool
  • vinegar
  • eucalyptus leaves (you will need to find a eucalyptus species that is suitable for dyeing such as red ironbark or silver dollar)
  • paper towels
  • stick, small piece of pipe, or a dowel
  • artificial sinew or twine
  • pot with steamer basket – please use a pot that is dedicated to dyeing!
  • Derwent Inktense color blocks (optional)
  • iron

Tutorial

Step 1: Alright first things first! Technically you can dye nearly any natural fiber with eucalyptus. However, if you choose a protein or animal fiber like silk or wool you will not need to use a mordant (mordants help to fix dye to fabric). So if you would like to use cotton or linen you will need to pre-soak your fabric in a mordant such as alum. Alum is available online and some say you can buy it at the grocery store although I have never seen it there. I generally purchase mine here.  As I previously mentioned, I will be using two blank silk pillow covers that I purchased through Dharma Trading (I swear they need to start paying me for the free advertising!).

As far as the eucalyptus is concerned, this may require a little research if you don’t have easy access to a tree. The silver dollar variety is readily available in the U.S. through florists and some markets. I would try Trader Joes since their prices on flowers and plants can’t be beat! The leaf shape on this variety is much more circular (as the name implies) so you will end up with a different but no less lovely result. I will be showing you two examples of this process, one is very simple and the next is a bit more complex.

Now let’s get down to business! First wet your fiber in a vinegar bath. This isn’t absolutely necessary but it will help to fix the dye and it’s an easy step so why not? If you choose not to use vinegar you should definitely wet your fabric. Then lay it out onto a layer of paper towels making sure that it is as flat and smooth as possible. I didn’t do this the first time and I needed to carefully lift up my fabric (with the leaves already in place) to slide the paper towel underneath. So learn from my mistakes people and put down the paper towel first! Then lay out your design on one half of your fabric. I’m doing this in part because I like that I will get a mirror image of my design but this also allows me to make a smaller bundle that will easily fit into my steamer basket (this will make more sense later). If you have a larger steam set up and want to do a different design then go for it!

 

Step 2: Lay the second half of your fabric on top of the first being careful not to disturb your design. Press with your hands to smooth.

 

Step 3: Place another layer of paper towel on top of your fabric then use a stick (I’m using a piece of eucalyptus), a small pipe or a dowel to roll your fabric into a bundle. Be mindful not to disturb your design as you are rolling it up. Tie it tightly with artificial sinew or twine to create a neat bundle.

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Step 4: Place in your steamer basket and turn your heat to high. When it comes to a boil turn your heat to low and let it go for one hour. When your hour is up, turn your bundle over and steam for one more hour.

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Step 5: Let your bundle cool completely and unroll. Some folks say that you should wait 24 hours to open your bundle, but having tried this I really didn’t feel like it made much of a difference. It’s truly like opening up a present! Here’s what I got.

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Sooooo pretty! I love that there is variation in the leaf color on number one. And the shadow of each leaf is nice in number two – I’m not sure why that happened but I like it. I decided to add stems to the second one using these. I took the red and rubbed it on the metal lid, then added some dark grey and a bit of orange. I added some water with a small brush and I was able to get a nice reddish orange.

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Hmmmm, maybe I liked it better before the stems? What do you think? I’m toying with the idea of giving this one a quick dunk in some black tea. Stay tuned…

Step 6: Hang your fabric to dry and let it sit for a minimum of 24 hours to “cure.” Waiting truly is the hardest part!!!

Step 7: Iron to set your design, give it a quick wash in a mild detergent, hang to dry and iron again.  Now they’re ready for their cover shots!

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So as you can see I decided to give both of them a little tea bath. I dunked them for approximately one minute and then rinsed them under some cold running water. I then ironed them while they were still wet to set the color. They dried almost immediately with the hot iron.

Although I loved the crisp white background I began to notice that the areas where the dye had bled were looking a bit like the pillow case was dirty, which was not a good look! I figured that a creamier background would help to blend things. Mission accomplished. 🙂

 

 

Rust Dyed Pillow Covers

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I know that you were itching for some more rust dyeing! Okay, maybe it was me who was itching. I bought these little beauties on Etsy and I couldn’t wait to turn them into something.

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I had a few silk pillow cases laying around so I figured that I would try to do a two for one (two pillow cases, one project).

Materials:

  • natural fiber fabric such as cotton, wool, linen, or silk
  • vinegar
  • rusty stuff
  • aluminum foil
  • heavy pavers, bricks, or rocks
  • time!
  • salt
  • black tea (optional)

Tutorial

Step 1: Soak your fabric in a vinegar bath for a few minutes. This is a very important step because the vinegar will significantly speed up the rusting process!

Step 2: Lay your fabric out as flat as possible onto a hard surface covered with several sheets of aluminum foil. Make certain that you leave an inch or two of foil around the edges so that when you place more foil on top you will be able to seal up your little package nice and tight (this will make more sense later on…just do it people!). 🙂

Step 3: Create a design with your rusty stuff.

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Step 4: Once you are happy with your design, carefully lay your second piece of fabric on top. Please note that you only need to do this step if you are rust dyeing two pieces of fabric at the same time. If you are only dyeing one piece, skip ahead to step 5.

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Step 5: Spray with a 50:50 vinegar and water solution (optional – I just wanted a bit more moisture to hasten the rusting process). Lay more foil over the top and seal your edges being careful not to disturb your design.

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Step 6: Place something heavy on top to insure good contact between your fabric and your rusty stuff.

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Step 7: Wait two or three days…if you have been reading this blog then you know how much I love to wait! :/

Once you have achieved a deep rust color (which took nearly 3 days in this case), open up your package and let it air dry completely. Some folks say to let it “cure” for 24 hours but I’m really not sure how crucial this is.

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So pretty! I’m wondering how it will look once I remove the metal pieces…

Step 9: Remove your metal bits and iron for 3 minutes to set your design.

Ackkkkkkkk! I forgot this step! I’m not certain how much difference it will make?! Hopefully not too much!

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Step 10: Soak in a bath of warm water and salt (1 tablespoon of salt to 1 gallon of water) for 15-20 minutes to arrest the rusting process.

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Step 11: If you are happy with your design then give it a quick wash, let it air dry and iron if needed. I felt like mine would look better with a dip in some black tea. As you can see I used the expensive stuff (about 20 bags because why not?).

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They’re starting to look grey! Nice!

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Step 12: Soak until you have achieved your desired color bearing in mind that the color will be quite a bit lighter when dry (I let mine go for approximately 4 hours). Squeeze out your fabric, hang to dry and iron to set the color. Last but not least, give it a quick wash in a mild detergent until your water runs clear, hang it to dry and iron (again).

Here they are. What do you think?

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I think they’re lovely. I like the juxtaposition of the silk with the rust as well as the somewhat graphic yet abstract design. I feel like the grey plays nicely with the brown and gives it a more polished look. For my taste, the rust against the white came off a bit too rustic (no pun intended!). I also like that although the pillows are very similar, they don’t completely match.

I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial! Please feel free to comment or ask questions and please click the Follow button to receive regular posts.

If you would rather buy then DIY go here.