Eco Dyeing Adventure

Many quilters have a variety of other artistic or crafty interests. Sometimes it’s fun to explore other mediums, and you never know what might inspire you and end up being used in your quilting.

I’ve dabbled in paper arts for many years, and incorporated paintings I’ve created in some of my work. Recently the opportunity arose for me to go on a retreat to learn eco dyeing on paper and fabric, so of course I jumped at it.

Eco Dyed art book ©Leslie Marsh
Eco Dyed art book ©Leslie Marsh (one of the class samples)

That’s how last weekend I ended up meandering over to a retreat center near Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia for a Red Thread Retreat coordinated by Lesley Riley. Our instructor for the weekend was the amazing Leslie Marsh, a book artist who incorporates eco dyed paper and fabric in her work. We collected plant matter from around the property and combined it with materials that Leslie and other class member brought to share. Then we started the amazing chemical process by stacking plant materials and paper or fabric together, and creating bundles that were submerged or steamed to create the prints.

Here I combined black cherry leaves, casuarina (shared by a classmate), and a weed that ended up not creating much of an image

Eco dyeing is not an exact science. The success of your prints depends on a wide variety of factors, from time of year to age of the plant matter to amount of mordant. However, that’s part of the fun, as opening each bundle is like getting a present. There was a lot of squealing when we were all opening up our finished bundles.  Here are two of my favorite prints on fabric:

Eucalyptus leaves reliably create great prints, as seen in the orangey areas here.

You can tell we had a very productive day by the looks of the studio at the end of Saturday.

To my delight we also did some leaf printing.

You can bet that something like that will end up in a quilt in the future.

But, the very best part of the weekend was the many new friends I made. They are an amazing group of women and I already have tentative plans to meet up again with some of them for more arty fun.

I’m so glad I took the plunge and “branched out” (pun intended) to try this fun technique to add to my artistic skills. How have you branched out recently?

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