DYE IT YOURSELF
Welcome more color into your life and embrace nature’s bounty with homemade plant-based dyes.
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 BLEACH RESIST
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...
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