Eco Dye

Eugene Textile Center’s color maeven, Janis Thompson taught an eco dye workshop, in the style of India Flint.
We foraged dyestuff from our yards and fields and travels and made masterpieces!

First we organized our raw materials onto a wet silk scarf…

raw materials on a silk scarf

some of the materials on this scarf are marigold petals, blackberries and blackberry leaves, cranesbill, twinberry

we dyestuff on one half of the scarf, so we could fold the other half over to create a seal.
after the fold, we tightly rolled our scarves onto a length of PVC pipe

and tightly bound the bundle with string

the bundle then gets boiled in mordanted water
and laid out in the garden to dry
after a few days of letting the dyestuff sink in, it’s time to bring the bundle back, and unroll its glory…
then, we washed off our dyestuff, let our scarves dry and set the dye with a little heat.
check out the exciting results!

can you see the edges of the leaf print?
pretty clear leaf print

Janis’s next eco dye class will be in early November!!
Check out the details HERE

Also, just something to think about…
India Flint is coming to the Eugene Textile Center next spring to teach two workshops…stop by the shop to find out more (and get yourself on the list!)

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Eugene Textile Center

We're a textile store located in Eugene, Oregon. Our mission is to foster fiber arts across North America. We love to share what we're working on in the studio and dye lab, as well as in our diverse set of classes. Please visit our website for more information about new and used looms, spinning wheels, felting equipment, classes, fiber and ALL that we sell in store and online. Thank you for supporting our local business!

12 thoughts on “Eco Dye”

  1. so where do you get mordants? When it refers to tin or iron does that mean using a piece of this metal in the pot. I have never tried this but would love to learn. Also, can u use an aluminum pot to boil these?

    1. MORDANT comes from the French, meaning “to bite.” Mordants are mineral salts that bind dyes into fiber, assure light- and wash-fastness, prevent color bleeding, brightens or changes some dye colors. Over the centuries many interesting substances were used as mordants to ensure color fastness, including arsenic and other deadly chemicals. Early writers, most of whom were not dyers or chemists, often confused matters by often giving two different chemicals the same name.

      Janis teaches all about the process and supplies used in this class.

    1. Eco printing is set in hot water, it should not wash out once set. It will fade over time, as all natural products do but if you just hand wash and keep out of direct sunlight, it should be vibrant for awhile. I hope that helps answer your questions. Janis can answer more questions for you if you call the shop.

  2. Hi, great post & I love your results! I’ve just experimented with my first eco-dye project today! Can I ask, did you boil it with vinegar & water mix? I just wet my scarfs in a 3part water 1part vinegar mix, then added my flowers & then steamed for two hours. I’m letting it set over night, would you suggest I need to boil the scarfs first in a mordant solution before unrolling them?
    I’m hoping to use earl gray tea to add a subtle grey to the scarves too! All very experimental & hoping they work as I’m giving them as gifts! I’d appreciate any guidance! Thanks!

    1. Hello Amy! Janis here from ETC.
      It’ s important for good pigment transfer and for light fastness to
      pre-mordant your fabric with Alum Sulfate at 10% weight of goods and Tartaric Acid at 8%. simmer at 180 for at least a hour and let cool in the mordant overnight. Rinse in cool water then lay out your plant material. Earl Grey is not Gray, but brown….just saying. I almost always simmer/submerge my items in a mild iron bath or another dyebath and use an iron blanket. Look at the Facebook group Printing Botanicals for more instruction and info on this technique. Happy Experimenting!

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