Bundle dyeing–and a new book

After the recent massive vat dyeing project, and with so many Eucalyptus Cinerea leaves lying around drying slowly, I was itching to dye some bundles. After a full day of mordanting and dyeing and sewing in windy overcast weather… here’s the view over the back fence and up into the sky.

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I had a piece of silk twill left when one of my workshop participants didn’t appear. In it went.  I also had a linen shirt and a cotton t shirt sourced at op shops and ready for renewal that I had mordanted in summer.  By the time I tied those bundles the sun was setting.

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I filled the pot with madder exhaust, and topped it up with some of my very-much reused alum pot. As the remains of the madder rose up the fabric and the temperature rose, the sun went down.

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When I opened these first two bundles the impact of the chalk in the madder pot became clear.  And despite having allowed the leaves to dry for days, it is midwinter here.  Those leaves would have started out full of water, and they are drying very slowly.  Interesting results… This is the silk twill.  The round green shapes are from dried E Cladocalyx ‘Vintage Red’ leaves.

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This is the t shirt.

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Here is the part of the t-shirt bundle that was in the madder exhaust/alum blend.  So little colour from the E Cinerea!

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I decided to set the third bundle (linen shirt) aside and give it some more time in the pot, which I did after work later in the week. Front view:

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Back view.

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If you wish you could try this method and have experiments of your own and bundles to untie at your place–but you’re not sure where to start, India Flint has just published ‘the bundle book’.  It is a concise introduction to her technique on fabrics and on paper.  You can see an extensive preview if you follow the link.  This book is unspeakably cute–being both small and exquisitely illustrated with photos to inspire.

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It presents information about techniques (such as dyeing paper) not covered in her earlier books, strategies for sustainable and safe dyeing and a history of the eco-print method.  It also addresses fresh ideas developed since the publication of Eco Colour and Second Skin.  And, it is full of India Flint’s inimitable voice.  I am old enough to remember when recipe books were sold on  the basis of recipes and not celebrity cooks, and when the writing was bland and spreadable.  I don’t miss the bland and spreadable writing, though I’m less sure about the cult of celebrity cooks.  No danger of bland here!  I very much enjoy the sense of a unique intelligence at work on subject matter I think about a lot that is a feature of India Flint’s writing.  It is a rich addition to her insights and strategies about harvest, recycling and dyeing.

This book is published on demand, which is a no waste, effective way of publishing a book for something short of a mass market. I suspect it also means that the book you order in Australia is printed here, but a book ordered in North America will be printed there, and not have to travel the seas or skies to reach you.  The printed versions of the book are fairly expensive, however.  If your wallet is up for it, it’s a great way to support an independent artist and the end product is delectable.  If your wallet isn’t up for it, the downloadable pdf option is instant and very affordable, and still a great way to support an independent artist.

I’m looking forward to trying out dyeing paper… perhaps when the rain pauses (I went out to figure out why the gutters were overflowing mid-edit on this post–and fixed the trouble with my dyeing tongs!).  While the rain continues, I’m having a knitting jag suitable to the weather…


Filed under Book Review, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

16 responses to “Bundle dyeing–and a new book

  1. Lovely colours, you Australians are so lucky having gum trees. I have just downloaded the pdf of India’s book. I have all the others as books and after reading your description you may have sold me another one. As you say it is expensive but a lovely thing to own.


  2. the tshirt photos aren’t showing up?
    I bought a little bunch of eucalyptus leaves at the farmers’s market…they are the roundish-leafed kind that is usually sold by florists here. An experiment awaits! I am ordering Second Skin and will get the bundle book as soon as I can.


  3. yes, I couldn’t see the tshirts yesterday, but I thought it was my connection – lovely soft colours, very pretty. I don’t think one expects strong rusts on cotton and linen from eucalyptus, am I right?
    I have downloaded India’s new book, but I may well order it later in hardback, they are a delight, I have the previous one, Fieldnotes, about the exhibition in New orleans, it’s not a technique book, but it explains so much about her work; I love it.


  4. PS and it’s a little work of art on its own ….. I do admire the way India just pops these beautiful books out, one after the other.


  5. thank you very much for the generous endorsement, Mary. so pleased the wee book is finding happy homes [from india, though it says mutabilia]


  6. Virginia melton

    I’m fortunate enought to have 3 of India Flint’s books. I just received the bundle book. It is beyond beautiful. I still need to get the stuff steep book.


  7. Very pretty. And another great book recommendation. I love the concept of printing books on demand. Brilliant.


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