Bush Camp

Camp Fire Eco Dyeing

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While I was at the Wild By Nature camp I ran an eco dyeing session for adults and kids. It was chaotic, crazy and wonderful with people dropping in and out, asking questions and getting excited about natural dyeing.

I had brought some paper as well blank silk and wool scarves to dye on. A bag of pre mordanted second hand clothing was gifted by the lovely Kirri and Mel. The clothes which had been mordanted with tea and eucalyptus leaves were eagerly snapped up.

I had no idea what plants were at the site so I also took some purple cabbage, brown onion skins and cinerea leaves which I bought from a florist. (I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever find cinerea growing wild in Melbourne.) I wanted to make sure that there were some plants that would give colour for the dyers.

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The dye pots simmered over the camp fire for the evening. There was purple cabbage in the big stainless steel pot, rusty metal in an aluminium pot and the other aluminium pot had cinerea leaves and brown onion skins. I loved tending the pots and topping up the water as it boiled away. Dyeing outside, over a fire is magical. There's nothing quite like it. The bundles then spent the next morning cooling in the pots before being taken out.

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It was lovely to see everyone's excitement at what awaited them in the bundles. As I walked around camp the next day and bumped into the dyers I was always asked "When are the bundles coming out?"  The waiting seemed to heighten the anticipation and excitement at what might be found. It's a lovely antidote to instant gratification.

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There were oohs and aahs of excitement as each bundle was unwrapped. Some worked better than others. The cotton clothes only had faint leaf prints - more time resting as bundles may have helped to make the prints stronger. The winner was by far and away the woollen items - they absorbed the colour from the cinerea beautifully. 

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It was my first time dyeing with wool and silk. And the first time using cinerea. After all the challenges of eco dyeing cotton I loved the wonderful results for the protein fibers. My wool scarf is divine; the leaf patterns, the rust, the string marks. Incredible!  I'm going to have to do more. I love it so!