Wel­come more color into your life and em­brace na­ture’s bounty with home­made plant-based dyes.

Cottages & Bungalows - - Contents - BY RACHEL L. DEMETER

Learn to dye your own fabrics us­ing na­ture’s bounty in home­made plant-based dyes, and wel­come new col­ors into your life.

If you find your­self less than sat­is­fied with tones of color avail­able for your fab­ric projects you may find your an­swer—

and wel­come in­spi­ra­tion—from Mother Na­ture her­self. Au­thor Sasha Duerr’s new book, Nat­u­ral Color: Vi­brant Plant Dye Projects for Your Home and Wardrobe, is an inspirational dye­ing guide. Com­pre­hen­sive and lushly pho­tographed, Nat­u­ral Color will in­spire you to re­vi­tal­ize your home and wardrobe with nat­u­ral plant­based dyes and ar­ti­san tech­niques. “In the mod­ern age, we are of­ten out of sync with the rhythms of our nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment,” Duerr writes. “With the resur­gent in­ter­est in plant-based color, we have an op­por­tu­nity to make some new and health­ier de­sign choices and even adopt rad­i­cally new prac­tices for how we view color.” Di­vided by sea­sons, this prac­ti­cal and in-depth guide un­earths the full spec­trum of plant-based dyes and of­fers sus­tain­able DIY recipes and projects. Check out Duerr’s fa­vorite dye­ing tech­niques be­low and get ready to roll up your sleeves.


Dip-dye­ing gives a sub­tle, ethe­real flair to fabrics, trans­form­ing ba­sic linen items into fash­ion­able state­ment pieces. This leisurely process pro­duces a soft and al­lur­ing sun­rise ef­fect. “Cre­at­ing an om­bre or gra­di­ent by dip-dye­ing fab­ric is one of my fa­vorite ways to make sim­ple and min­i­mal sur­face de­sign,” Duerr writes. “I es­pe­cially love this tech­nique be­cause it shows the gra­di­ent color po­ten­tial of the plants them­selves, the base color of the fab­ric and how mul­ti­ple shades can com­bine and con­trast to re­ally high­light the color and its po­ten­tial. ”When se­lect­ing a color, be sure to con­sider its dark­est and light­est shades, as this method uti­lizes the dye’s full spec­trum.


Cit­rus is a pow­er­ful, all-nat­u­ral bleach and a won­der­ful de­sign tool when smartly uti­lized. “One spritz of a lemon, splash of salad dress­ing or other highly acidic el­e­ment can bleach out dark color on the spot,” Duerr writes. “This can be dev­as­tat­ing if un­ex­pected, but if you know about this, you can pur­pose­fully cre­ate a cit­ric-acid re­sist paste or paint—an in­cred­i­ble de­sign tool to make pat­terns and to take out un­wanted iron spots, much like com­mer­cial bleach but much safer.” Duerr’s home­made bleach recipe is as easy as 1-2-3: “Squeeze lemon juice into a jar and ap­ply di­rectly to the fab­ric with a paint­brush.” Seek­ing a more sub­tle ef­fect? Sim­ply di­lute the lemon juice and then ap­ply.

Plant-based dyes al­low you to em­brace the col­ors

of the sea­son and wel­come the out­side in.


“Block print­ing is a fun way to cre­ate a sim­ple pat­tern de­sign,” Duerr writes. “This tech­nique adds depth and pat­tern to your plant-dye projects on textiles, pa­per and other por­ous sur­faces. ”Tools can be found in some of the most un­ex­pected places: ev­ery­day house­hold ob­jects, such as jars and sponges, make ex­cel­lent print­ing ma­te­ri­als. Or ven­ture out­side. “Many plants, in­clud­ing bark, leaves, seeds, pinecones and flow­ers, can be used di­rectly as print­ing tools to re­peat in­ter­est­ing or­ganic shapes, tex­tures and de­signs,” Duerr writes. You can also carve your own re­us­able print­ing tools from linoleum blocks. “Once you have your print­ing block carved, you can con­tinue to print with the same block, cre­at­ing a hand­made ef­fect in mul­ti­ples as well as ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent col­ors,” Duerr writes.


Add breath­tak­ing tex­ture and in­ter­est to your textiles with this his­toric Ja­panese art form. “Shi­bori is the tech­nique of fold­ing, wrap­ping, sewing, clamp­ing and ty­ing fab­ric to re­sist dye, thereby cre­at­ing pat­terns,” Duerr writes. The bounded ar­eas will re­sist the dye, re­sult­ing in dis­tinc­tive de­signs, such as tie-dye pat­terns. Duerr’s two fa­vorite meth­ods in­clude ita­jime shi­bori and arashi shi­bori. “Ita­jime shi­bori calls for pleat­ing the fab­ric in equal pan­els, back and forth (as you would a pa­per fan), fold­ing it again the other way, and then bind­ing it with the clamps be­fore you dye it,” Duerr writes. This tech­nique pro­duces in­trigu­ing grid­like pat­terns.

Arashi is the Ja­panese word for “storm,” and the de­signs that re­sult from this tech­nique evoke im­agery of wind and rain. Duerr writes, “In this method, the cloth is wrapped straight or on the di­ag­o­nal around a pole and then very tightly bound by wind­ing thread or twine up and down the pole. You can also scrunch the cloth on the pole af­ter bind­ing it.” Arashi shi­bori re­sults in a stun­ning pleated tex­tile with a pat­tern along the di­ag­o­nal.

“Mak­ing nat­u­ral color from scratch is much like cook­ing— it’s the same process of us­ing recipes, find­ing the right ingredients, ex­per­i­ment­ing and tim­ing.” “Know­ing when plants are in sea­son is es­pe­cially im­por­tant for plant dyes that are for­aged and...

Dip-dye­ing lends it­self to all types of gar­ments, fash­ion ac­ces­sories and dé­cor ac­cents. Give a kiss of so­phis­ti­ca­tion to your home and wardrobe through a broad spec­trum of hues. Be­yond Cot­ton: Plant-based Fibers The vast bio­di­ver­sity of plant-based...

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