Tag Archives: Contact dyeing with plant material

The seeds sprout and the sun rises

Planting seeds… Every Spring as Nature awakens and comes back to life, seedlings are planted and seeds are sowed. Cause that’s how it goes. Cause that’s the way it is – standstill taking over the movement, and solution and breakthrough coming forward after the deadlock…


Since we settled at #szaryganek a few years ago, I started another dyer’s garden right away. I planted several varieties of smoke bush, couple of catalpas, tamarisk, liquid amber, and two types of sumac in addition to what was already growing there. (Some of the new plants were presented by a friend visiting at that time. Evgenia, remember?) I also arranged madder root corner in the rear end of the garden. Needless to say, rubia tinctoria is a very important dye plant, although a young plant is not so good for dye extraction, you’ve got to wait 3 years until you harvest the first batch. This Spring I have been able to draw out a few root shoots to expand my madder plantation.


Madder is one of the oldest dyestuffs. According to J.N. Liles, it extends back at least to 2000 b.c. In his book The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing, 1990, you can find at least 10 recipes with madder root for color red. Wow, I’ve been always fascinated with madder dyeing potential, and also with its medicinal properties. At the same time, have to admit that traditional dyeing with madder has never become my thing. Maybe I am not ambitious enough…

However, enhancing the effects from leaf printing in contact dyeing with madder extract, on the contrary, has been serving me at its best from the very start. Back in those days, when an absolute newbie in botanical printing struggling to get leaf prints of decent visibility on fabric or paper, at the same time craving for eucalyptus foliage to appropriate for my studio experiments, (and eucalyptus itself had been a complete alien at the local florists) half in despair, I resolved to giving a break to squishing out wishful color from the foliage that had already proven void, and to taking an opposite approach of saturating a weak leaf with stronger potion.


The thing is that in days of the past newborn babies were traditionally bathed in herba bidentis extract bath-water in view of its antibacterial etc. properties, clothes were also treated with the extract. I did bathe my child that way too. The extract should’ve been cooked every time fresh through a time consuming process, and no steps to be skipped whatsoever. And the results were magical… So, in my studio I gave the old method a go and treated those weak leaves to the dye stuff extract. And, yes, the leaves impregnated with stronger dye print immediately even before the heat is applied. This is a pic back from that time:

What a relief it was after so many failures! And throughout the years of my exploring botanical dyeing this method never stopped surprising.

But it’s Spring time, remember? Conditioning the stage for madder root expansion in the garden was not a big deal, in fact. However, my recent urge for setting a vegetable garden (the lockdown sequela) required way more engineering intense arrangements. First came five plastic boxes for vegetable beds – yes, yes, I know, plastic… But, hey, sometimes you just have to to make do with what you got. I didn’t like the idea of poking holes in the bottoms, I wanted to keep the boxes intact. So, I thought I would make a raised mesh bottom supported with fixed wire. Water is supposed to go underneath, and I added a tube for ventilation and also for watering:

IMG_6738 IMG_6729

Next, I spreaded agrotextile to separate soil from the plastic walls, added some potting grit and soil.

It took me several hours to finish the construction stage. Planting and sowing took the next couple of days. However, after a period of nice weather we got the temperature dropping from +26C to +8C. Which now makes me really wonder if my efforts prove fruitful.



P.S. Oh, did I mention that seeds were germinated in a plastic bottle? It is a very effective and low maintenance sprouting method. XOXO


Colorful Contact Dyed Cotton Jersey/ Яркие краски и хлопковый трикотаж

Do you like soft and colorful combinations of leaf prints on a t-shirt? With me it is always about time and season. sometimes I think of more neutral and moderate color combinations, sometimes I really search for brighter and living color. It is not new that cotton jersey takes up natural dye perfectly well and provides excellent surface for all sorts of prints and color blends…

I have just realized that it is just about 6 months in my climate zone that one can do Contact Dyeing with plant material straight “from the garden”. High dyeing season is about to come. Unlimited availability of dye source, restricted only by the size and diversity of your garden, encourages new undertakings.

Do you tend to rely upon methods and plant types proven to yield the best results? Or do you consistently modify conditions in every other dyeing session because curiosity takes over? Well, my curiosity always takes over! What do you prefer: to work over a tailored thing, or a length of fabric? What are your preferences and why?

In the meantime, these are some cotton jersey colorations that I got:

jer03 jer04 je04 jer05 je02 je03


На трикотаже работать приятно – он отзывчив и охотно воспринимает всякого рода воздействие. колорирование в разных гаммах и комбинациях на нем смотрится исключительно: хорошо получается как серьезная и сдержанная гамма, так и разнообразные веселые и легкие сочетания ярких и легкомысленных оттенков. Я веду речь о хлопковом трикотаже, и чем выше процент хлопка, тем отчетливее проявяются такие особенности.

Скоро ко мне в мастерскую приезжают новые ученики. Подумалось, что в здешней климатической зоне примерно месяцев шесть можно производить крашение, используя материалы прямо с куста, так сказать. Пик уличного сезона крашения близится! Материальная часть, разумеется, определяется размерами сада и разнообразием прилегающих территорий…

Позвольте поинтересоваться предпочтениями практиков, любите ли вы ходить по непроторенным дорожкам в смысле методов работы, или же предпочитаете использовать проверенные на практике надежные методы и рецепты? Заставляет ли вас ваше любопытство рисковать “испортить” вещь, но тем не менее искать практический ответ на вопрос ” а что, если?” Мое любопытство чаще всего одерживает верх…

А что вам более по душе, работать по готовой вещи, либо по отрезу ткани? В отношении носибельных вещей: сшить и окрасить, или окрасить отрез и шить затем? Очень интересно как и почему – поделитесь!хххх

The Natural Touch Effect on Synthetic Fabrics!/ Растительные красители на синтетических тканях

My acquaintance with natural dyestuffs took place back in 1998 and immediately changed my view of dyeing and painting procedure. At that time I was exploring batik seeking my own voice rather then duplicating known styles and approaches. Batik and Natural Dyestuffs seemed like perfect marriage, so ever since I have been just digging deeper into my key subject-matters and natural dyeing being one of them.

At some point I faced a situation when answers to my practical questions could no longer be found either in the old reference material, textbooks and publications, nor in new popular books.

The unavailability of the required info from printed sources along with no luck in getting to a workshop to obtain skills and knowledge there, made me work harder myself employing my theoretical knowledge of Textile Technologies, Chemistry and Dyestuffs.

Step by step I approached a method which provides more control over the dyeing process and predictable results in terms of Contact Dyeing with Plant Material on natural fabrics.

Just recently I have tested my method working on a range of synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and a few others. The results are seen on the photos below.

I am most of all happy that by means of my finding I have broaden the range of the fabrics suitable for contact dyeing with plant material.

Just think of all those tights which can be upgraded by the Natural Touch effect!

I will be dwelling upon my findings and demonstrating my methods on the upcoming Meeting –seminar in Sebastopol, Ukraine, Aug, 26 – Sept, 7 2013. My list of topics covers a few more aspects of Natural Dyeing, more info on that is coming soon. If you’d like to join me for this event, please, drop me an e-mail at ruchkindryg*@yahoo.*co.*uk* (delete the stars first).


Натуральные красители вызвали мой живой интерес примерно в году 1998, когда, погрузившись в технику рисования воском на ткани, я искала свою трактовку древней техники батика, и альянс воска и природных красителей на полотне оказался тем самым решением для всей моей последующей практики, в которой я опираюсь на экспериментальный подход в большей степени, чем на воспроизведение традиционных методов.

Мне пришлось изрядно потрудиться, призвав на помощь все свои знания текстильных технологий и химии красителей, чтобы найти интересующие меня решения, когда стало ясно, что известные мне источники, книги и публикации, находящиеся в моем распоряжении, не содержат нужных мне ответов в отношении специальных техник работы с растительным материалом.

В конце концов, к моему удовольствию, я определила свой метод контактного крашения растительным материалом, обеспечивающий предсказуемый и контролируемый результат на натуральных тканях.

Совсем свежие тесты моего метода на синтетических тканях, порадовали результатами на полиэстере, а также нескольких других, которые оказались в моем распоряжении. См. фото.

Я довольна тем, что с помощью своей находки я смогу значительно расширить спектр тканей, пригодных для контактного крашения растительным материалом.
Подумать только, как можно теперь преобразить обычные колготки!

О своих методах крашения я планирую рассказывать и проводить практические демонстрации на своей предстоящей рабочей группе в Севастополе 26 авг. -7 сент. 2013г. Подробнее о своих темах демонстраций я буду еще писать.
Буду рада встретиться и поделиться опытом! Прошу, вопросы по мероприятию пишите мне на эл. почту:
ruchkindryg*@yahoo.*co.*uk* (удалите сперва звездочки, пробелов не должно быть)















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