I have been trying out dyeing with leaves culled from the florist, and the garden, and the campo in Spain, wrapped into bundles with many windings of string.
here’s the bundle of silky merino jersey (30% silk/70%merino wool) after the strings that bound it have been removed.
these long pointed leaves are the eucalyptus I bought back from Spain, probably nidens, I didn’t get much colour from them here inside the bundle, but in Spain I got a slightly greenish gold. on the outside of the bundle the colour is from the same eucalyptus and cut up lemon.
these rounded leaves are eucalyptus from the florist. as I had cut up the lemon and put it to soak for half an hour with the fabric, I think it will have changed the colour.
this is the second immersion for this grey cashmere shawl, which was left unrinsed from its first contact with eucalyptus, without the lemon as above, and the florist’s leaves have left a russety imprint, a bit stronger than this looks. it’s very hard to photograph these.
I put leaves from the garden into the bundle as well as the eucalyptus. these are field maple,
and they left a distinct lemon yellow print. the three-dimensional imprint seems to stay after the first wash, it has been heat-shaped into the textile.
some of the eucalyptus from the florist has come out quite yellow on the silky merino too, this may be due to my lemon soak …
these patterns are due to the string acting as a resist, and therefore the part of the garment/piece of fabric which is going to be on the outside of the bundle needs careful consideration, as it will be an important part of the end result.
this piece, which was really a sample, has taken on a life of its own, it even looks a bit like a patchwork quilt.
I tried out blueberry leaves, which turn this amazing red in autumn. however, the heat I used probably killed the colour. I still like the soft grey mark the leaves left.
plum leaves, and hawthorn for their pretty shape, but the hawthorn has disappeared, so it seems that there is no colour to be had from that.
my first aim in trying out this method (which I found in India Flint‘s remarkable and beautiful book, Second Skin) was to bring a new and exciting interest to some old cashmere knit samples which failed to sell. but it also has a relationship to some of my pottery work, and to be honest, is fascinating and a little addictive in its own right, and it is taking me down new paths that I never dreamt of before. the thing that makes these wonderful to me is the imprint of the leaf, with all the wayward spotting, branching and fractal patterning of nature.