Natural dyeing is nothing new. What is new is our developing awareness of chemicals in dyes and the environmental damage from the clothing industry. Couple that with more time at home and a new interest in natural dyeing has emerged.
My own journey to natural dyeing began after reading Eco Colour by India Flint, where I found myself lost in the wonderment of natural colour possibilities. About 2 years later, I saw a Workshop advertised by a local artist and I have been hooked in - learning and exploring the process of dyeing ever since.
Being concerned about the impact fast fashion has on the environment, combined with my love of op-shopping, I look for little treasures and give them an individual look by simply dyeing or re-creating and morphing them into an entirely different piece. Revamping vintage wool blankets into wearable garments – often totally hand stitched, brings me particular joy.
I started out just wanting to play, but often playing becomes addictive and honestly how many garments can you give away as gifts? The next logical step was to sell-on which I now do at various local markets.
I have called my venture Metal Nettle Petal as these are three elements often used in the dyeing process. People never seem to manage saying it as it’s a bit of a tongue twister, but it brings a few laughs and an opportunity to begin the discussion of the dyeing process.
I have also branched out and made new garments as well. One such outfit is currently being exhibited in the Botanical Colouring Exhibition hosted by SCNDIG (Sunshine Coast Natural Dyers Interest Group) opening September 18th.
Many people get so confused by terms such as pre and post mordanting and substantive and in substantive dyes, that it scares them away from having a go at natural dyeing. However, these terms become more clear as you progress in the journey, not being that complex at all.
My recommendation is to just start out by playing….. a rusty chain, old t-shirt, a splodge of vinegar in a bucket of water left for a couple of days and see what alchemy takes place. It is simply taking that first step and you will be on your way to creating your own little bundles of art.