There are a few eco-dyeing books I've got my eye on. One is by India Flint and the other is by Louise Upshall. I'm insanely curious about their process and how they get their leaf prints. And part of me really, really wants to know the answers. But I'm holding off on buying them because there's a bigger part of me that is having so much fun discovering for myself what works and what doesn't.
For my latest attempt, I made the radical move of buying eucalyptus leaves from a florist's. When you use the right gum leaves, eucalyptus cinerea for example, you can get amazing, vivd oranges. A few times I thought I'd struck cinerea gold only to discover after dyeing that the leaves were from another type of gum entirely. Unlike North American and European trees that have very distinct leaf types, eucalyptus trees can have different shaped leaves growing next to each other on the same branch. It makes leaf spotting very tricky for a novice naturalist like me.
The leaves I bought were called spinning gum by the florist. She claimed they were the same leaves as the cinerea images online. I had my doubts but for two bucks I didn't have much to lose so I bought them anyway. Turns out my gut instinct was right and they definitely weren't cinerea and didn't give me any colour. They did work as a nice resist however so not all was lost. And even though I didn't get any red leaf prints, I simply adore my latest scarf.
I'm really enjoying the feeling of chasing down gorgeous orange leaf prints on fabric. Each lesson I learn along the way adds to my knowledge and understanding of the eco-dyeing process and the plants I am using. Every little mistake teaches me something new about the process. Every little triumph feels so good. I'm not going to get that same feeling from a book am I?