I kind of feel like an alchemist when I engage in the process of eco-printing. It is quite magical. And to add to the excitement of it all - I live in the native country where the eucalypts grow.
Eco printing was probably discovered by and first documented by India Flint. Her books are amazing and very informative. My first forays into this process, however, were a dismal failure. I got no prints, just a few brown marks on my wool felt. I wondered what all the fuss was about. So, I just shelved the idea and moved on to other things.
A few years ago, I happened upon Nicola Brown, an Irish woman who planted hundreds of eucalyptus trees on her farm in the south of Ireland. I bought her e-book on eco printing and I haven't looked back.
Eco printing is where plant material is gathered and laid out in a design on wool and other fibres. Then the garment or fabric is rolled tightly on metal or wooden rods and secured with twine into a bundle. Next, it is placed into a pot of gum leaf liquor (water and soaked gum leaves) and left to boil for at least 2.5 hours.
Unravelling the bundles is like opening presents at Christmas as a young child. I scream with glee....usually. This is a little unnerving if it is past midnight. Just as well we live far, far away from civilisation. Lol!
The resulting prints from this chemical free process are just beautiful and totally unique for each garment or fabric. The prints are also colourfast - which is very important. I love to upcycle clothing and give quality linen, cotton, silk and wool garments a new life. I also buy new white cotton t-shirts to print on.
I don't need to plant a natural dye garden. l already have one on my farm.....hundreds of eucalypt trees. Oh yes and some wattles produce lovely prints, also.
The video clip below is an unbundling at around midnight. I'm a bit bleary eyed but very happy.