Posts filed under ‘Natural dyeing’

Some natural dyeing and printing results

After my experimentation with some old op shop cottons and linens which had been soy mordanted a while ago, I got some muddy colours and very little print.

The red flowered gum leaves, blossoms and nuts gave a good coloured dye after cooking for an hour and then leaving for 24 hours. I strained the plant material from the water, added some alum to the pot, soaked the cottons in water for an hour and then bundled up. The cottons and a couple of scrap pieces of bridal satin were used with the leaves from the pot, some melaleuca sprigs and some eucalyptus cineria that had been soaked in rainwater. Some of the cooked leaves were dipped in iron water, most of the bundles were tied with silk tape around bamboo sticks, two were bundled around iron rods.


After reading Irit Dulman’s latest blog post I will try a bit more experimentation this week-thank you Irit for sharing some of your processes, we would love to see you in Australia!

I am thinking now of dyeing my upcycled linen dress in onion skins first and then try the overprint with the leaves. I will do a few more samples and see how they turn out before committing to the dress.


Onions skins and bark cooking

I will pop a few pieces in the pot tomorrow.



October 1, 2017 at 9:13 pm Leave a comment

Rosellas and spring

These blossoms and leaves were collected beneath the red flowering gum tree as a flock of rosellas (or pandemonium of parrots) feasted above. They are very messy eaters with blossom and branches strewn all around.

There are signs of spring everywhere: daffodils, blossoms and new growth, but also the chill of winter still in the air with snow falling not too far away and torrential rain the last few days.

They will be cooked up and rolled in various op shop cottons (with a soy mordant) to see what colour the spring will bring, perhaps a little iron water in a second batch. I have a sprig of dried cineraria from the florist that will be soaked and added to the bundle for comparison. Results will be posted in a week or two.

September 6, 2017 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

Hip Hip Decay

Last weekend I experienced a magical workshop with Suzanne McRae who travelled all the way from Ballarat each day to share her amazing talent. We were encouraged to use her techniques but develop our own characters and the most important thing I learnt was how the ‘less is more’ applies, particularly in this instance.

So this is Professor Priscilla Possum not quite finished yet:



She is a ringtail possum, which are quite common in our little neck of the woods.

I still have to sew the clothes, add some old buttons, do a little more on the face (a little detail trick Suzanne shared with us) and make a mini leather covered book to place under her arm.

You can see Kerrie’s characterful bird here. Thank you to the Art dolls ladies for sharing this workshop and in particular Jenny for her wonderful organisation.

February 5, 2017 at 11:22 am Leave a comment

Eco print and dye

While pottering around the shed finishing up some GeeTAG postcards, I decided to clean up and used some silk wedding offcuts I discovered for a spot of eco dyeing. I had a container of water that I had soaked some seaweed in to get rid of the sand so I added that to the pot with extra tap water- still waiting for the water tank to be installed- and some nuts and bolts. The first batch used prunus, sheoak, feijoa and melaleuca leaves and were tightly wrapped and tied with silk thread around some dried bamboo sticks foraged from the garden and a metal tine that had snapped off my garden fork. This was brought to a simmer for 1-2 hours then left to cool in the pot overnight. The metal tine was great on top to keep everything submerged.


Second from the left are some linen offcuts from an Op Shop dress I am refashioning before eco-dyeing. The experimentation is to check the effects before dyeing the whole dress. The dress I bought was many sizes too big so I removed the sleeves and used the top of the sleeves to make armhole facings, added darts as well as taking in the side seams and cutting 12 inches off the bottom.

Here are the results of the first cooking:


Silk around metal tine


More wedding silk offcuts


And the linen-more subtle with lines from the sheoak:


For the dress I think I will try a pre-mordant in soy, eucalyptus bath and adding some alum to brighten.

The second cook up resulted in darker colour out of the pot:


The wrapping was again with the bamboo sticks and metal tine but using red onion skins, rose and prunus leaves.

Much stronger patterning on the wedding silk:


close up



The linen sleeve:


and a fine silk loom end:


For all these I have laid out the organic material on half the fabric then folded over, rolled and tied. You can see this side by side here but one is the right side and the other the wrong (not mirror image) so it gave great prints on both sides of this quite thin silk.The lime green is the rose leaves-fresh from the bush- this was from my large weeping crepuscule rose.

The darker areas were the outside of the rolls where you can see the imprint of the wrapping threads.

I quite often cut up these dyed scraps to use for lots of different projects. I have been searching for a thin woollen blanket at Op shops for a while to layer and hand stitch  my pieces onto to create a warm throw.

I am hoping to dye the dress next week, 36C here tomorrow so not a good day to be steaming up the shed/studio. We will be watching the fire reports just in case.



January 6, 2017 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

Textile Fibre Forum Magazine-I’m in it!

There are many reasons for making art of any kind, but there are some wonderful benefits to being a textile artist. It is the amazing tactile nature of textiles that makes it my favourite way to make art. There is something special about the connection you have to the cloth and the stitch.

The textile art scene is booming worldwide and it is because the items made are not just beautiful or contain thought provoking themes or stories. It is also because it lends itself to such a huge array of applications: it encompasses so many different techniques, is a type of creative therapy and can be a very social activity, among many other relevant reasons.

I received my subscriber copy of the very professionally edited Textile Fibre Forum magazine this morning and was very excited to see my article on my recently completed textile art book, created for the ATASDA exhibition in Sydney earlier this year included, and in such great company.


As an educationalist who has specialised in literacy I am very comfortable with using the book form in my textile art (I love children’s books and have an impressive collection spanning 40 years!).

The research on this specific book took more than six months, and I was happy with most aspects of the finished product, especially the side that specifically relates to the original owners of the land at Sydney Cove. I blogged a little about the processes used in making the book while I was working on it here and my fun trip to the exhibition in Sydney here.


December 1, 2016 at 11:26 am Leave a comment

Getting closer

I am just about to spend the rest of the day putting the final coat of paint on the very, very long project of the girl’s shed. This is all the woodwork which is quite a slow process-skirting boards, window and door surrounds and the huge cupboards. This means I can finally start moving in all my ‘stuff’ which means a big sorting through, emptying of all the cupboards inside and probably numerous bags to go to the Op Shop.


The view out the door (ignore the work table)

The view out the door (ignore the work table)


The row of cupboards

The row of cupboards

Inside the cupboards

Inside the cupboards

view to the right

view to the right

view to the left

view to the left

the sink unit (to be plumbed in)

the sink unit (to be plumbed in)

Hopefully this second coat won’t take the five hours the first coat took!

The floor is still covered in old carpet pieces for protection. Unfortunately I didn’t think to do this before the shed ‘putter upper’ got to work and took chunks out of my specially chocolate coloured (for heat absorption) concrete floor. The floor will be given two more coats of sealant when all else is finished off.

Autumn will be a great time to get a garden going out in front and on the side of the shed, hopefully some plants for a dye garden (if we can get some decent rain-temperatures here 20 celsius all week and only just over two weeks until winter-amazing).

I am still debating about the rest of the furniture- do I buy a second hand large table for cutting and sewing (2 metres or longer) or make one up from bits and pieces; do I buy that very expensive adjustable Horn sewing table ($1000 is a lot of money for quite a simple table) or once again, make something up. Big decisions!!

May 15, 2014 at 11:48 am 2 comments

TAFTA Geelong Fibre Forum 2012

It was an absolute pleasure to spend a whole week with a group of lovely, generous and creative people in Hilary Peterson’s class ‘Dye, Print, Stitch’ at TAFTA’s Geelong Forum. Thankyou all and especially Hilary for your generosity in sharing your techniques and knowledge. and inspiring us all.

We began the week with lots of brewing of leaves, bark, pods and beetroot that happened to be in my crisper. I have since found this blog showing dyeing with purple carrots which I will have to try.

Into the brews went a multitude of bundles containing silk and wool fabric, doilies, wool, threads, papers of all description, leaves, flowers, blossoms, bark, sticks, fleece, silk rods, buttons and possibly much, much more.

The most exciting part was opening the bundles to see what had eventuated. My favourites were silk fabrics dyed with dark purple prunus leaves from an enormous and very old tree in my yard. Some beautiful results were also obtained from Eucalyptus cineria leaves with an iron mordant. I will be finding and planting this tree as soon as possible!!

After our dyeing had been unravelled and marvelled at we started carving and printing: meat trays, soft sculpt, lino, leaves, gumnuts and other objects. We experimented with texture using gesso, eggshells, sawdust and sand. We sponged and brushed and painted and resisted.





Finally we stitched, a lovely calming meditative end to the week.

You can see more photos on our group blog as I shared to the class with two of our group.

September 30, 2012 at 11:44 am 3 comments


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