Friday, January 9, 2015

Eco printing Sweet Gum Tree leaves

Sweet Gum Tree (Liquidambar styraciflua) Leaves
*medicinal properties
Date of Experiment Nov./Dec. 2014
Water used was tap water (Chlorine and Fluoride)
Area - Lancaster, Pa.

I have been extracting color from plant materials lately but haven't

tried printing on fabric. 

I found some Gum Tree leaves lying on the ground several weeks

ago in a small shopping center near my home. 

As they were a little crisp; I soaked them in warm water and a little

alum. The cotton fabric was also soaked in alum and rinsed.

I used two separate pieces instead of the normal way to lay

the leaves down and then folded over.

I also used egg yolk painted on the leaves and then placed

and rubbed gently down onto the fabric. ( I read this technique

on someone's blog) I then painted the egg mixture on the top side

of the leaves also and then lay the second piece of fabric on top.

The two pieces were then wrapped around a piece of oak limb as

tightly as I could get it.

I used cotton bamboo yarn to wrap and tie.

This piece was steamed over a large pot - covered for a couple

of hours.

Left overnight and then I opened it in the afternoon.

This is my first decent leaf print! Yay!

This is the top layer; the bottom layer's prints

are not that clear. I've done another experiement

of over dyeing with it. 

It's not perfect but it's a start and I'm learning a lot

in the process.

This is the bottom piece that I over dyed with red leaves,

whose name escapes me. In this liquid with the red

leaves I added cream of tar tar and some fresh lemon

juice which turned the color a light orange. 

The brown marks on the fabric is from the branch of

the oak that the fabric was wrapped around. 

I hung it up and let it cure for a couple of weeks

and then I washed it. There was some color loss but

nothing major. 

Again, I always google just to make sure that what plant

matter that I use is not toxic in any way. To my 

surprise I found out a lot of information about the

Sweet Gum Tree. 

*It is Medicinal (Always consult a professional herbalist)

Here are just a couple of pages that I found

Sweet Gum tea was an herbal treatment for the

flu and the Cherokee made a tea out of the bark.

leaves can be mashed into a poultice for antibiotic

and sting-bite relief

The leaves contain natural antibiotics and were used

to pack wounds. Crush or masticate (chew) the leaves

some first to release these antibiotic compounds.

Some of the seeds inside the green, spikey pods contain

shikimic acid, which is used to make the active ingredient in

the flu-fighting medicine Tamiflu. Tea and alcohol extracts

of the crushed seed pods have been traditional flu

 medicines in several different cultures.

 Lots of Information out there and so much more

to learn!

Happy Foraging!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Eco Dyeing - Avocado - Tin Can

While traveling around the internet looking 

at some eco dye blogs; I had found a couple 

eco dyeing fabric around a veggie can

using various methods.

So I thought that I would try one.

I had used the skin and the pit of an

avocado in a pot (stainless steel) and

covered with (tap) water. Heated for

about 2 hours and left overnight.

No modifier was added to the dye bath.

The cotton fabric that I used was 

treated with alum.

I have to say again that I'm not an

expert; I'm just playing and learning

along the way.

And I forgot to take photos of the can

once it was wrapped.

   I placed the fabric over the can

and placed yellow onions skins around.

I then wrapped Bamboo crochet yarn all

around the can -  tightly. (it's all that I had to wrap)

The can was placed into the avocado dye

bath and heated (not boiled) for about

2 hours and left it for a few hours 

coming back and turning it. 

When I unwrapped it I found it had 

a blackish ring in the middle. 

 The center ring is the only part

that was exposed to the can; the onion

skins covered the rest. 

We call them tin cans but when I googled

to see what our veggie cans are made 

of I found this: 

"Veggie cans are made from steel (though

often referred to as "tin cans" because 

there is a very thin coating of aluminum on 

the inside). "

Don't have the link to this:

"Tin" cans are actually made out of steel with tin plating. The tin is there to stop the food from reacting with the can itself
 (Steel cans with compromised tin platings can rust, leading to iron oxide contaminating the food, which makes it taste awful; this is
 why dented/bent cans are usually on discount, due to their shortened shelf-life)."

Now the reason I looked this up was

because of my next experiment with 

the can

This is a new veggie can that I had

just opened a couple of days before -

it's not old. 

There are no onion skins just one leaf

that I laid on the fabric and folded 

over and then wrapped around the can

- wrapped the yarn around all the way

around the can and fabric  and tied. 

You can see the yarn marks on this one.

You can see the vague print of the leaf.

But look at all of the blackish color

lines and marks - from the can itself.

Interesting... no?  I know very little

chemistry so I can't technically explain


 Although I don't like the way this piece

came out - I thought it was a failure but

then quickly thought - it's an experiment

and that I learned something from therefore

it's not a failure.

 I tried to get a close up and the 

black spots also have some deep purple

colors. Lots of little things going on

in there.

I'm thinking that I'm going to try

this method again.

I also have more avocado fabric to show

but I'll do that during the week.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Eco Dyeing with Chestnut shells

This past Thanksgiving I had put some

chestnuts in the oven in my Corning

ware pie dish - with a little water.

When the timer went off; I removed 

the dish and discovered that the water

was brownish. oooh

I wondered if I could dye some fabric

with the shells...?

I searched google to see if anyone

had tried using the shells and to see

what they used and if they had good

results. - I couldn't find anything.

So... I put the shells in my stainless

steel pot and warmed the water (not boil-

Also, I used my tap water)

for about 1 hour and I started to see 

some color. 

Impatient that I am; I put a small piece

of fabric (already soaked in alum) in the

pot with the shells. 

I left it in the pot overnight.

Towards the afternoon


I removed the fabric - nice color!

I rinsed it off (not washed yet) 

and this is what it looks like.

 It looks like a deep tan or a 

light brown. So far I think it was

a success. I'll wait a couple of days

before I wash it to see how colorfast

it is. 

I find that I'm getting addicted to


Monday, November 24, 2014

Eco Dyeing with Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ Leaves Part 5

Eco Dyeing with Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ Leaves Part 5

My last post on this shrub (I promise)

Mostly photos of the results 

that I obtained using various

mordants and modifiers.

 (click on the photo for a larger view)

 I picked up some color paint samples

from Lowes - just to show the color

a little better.

By adding Alum to one dye bath and

fresh lemon juice to the other - you 

can see how it lightened the color.

Ammonia - a little mottled
Nothing in dye bath

And that concludes my experiments

with Pyracantha.

It will be interesting to see if 

the colors are the same in the Spring.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Eco Dyeing with Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ Berries Part 4

 Eco Dyeing with Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ Berries Part 4

 This is my 3rd experiment with the berries.

They are starting to wither because the weather is getting colder.

I cut them open and inside is a yellowish color and what appears to be a tiny seed.

The fabric that I decided to use is the one 

from the last berry experiment -

the one that turned out like a light beige

Boiled tap water (I decided to check with my

local Water Dept. and asked what chemicals 

are in the water - Answer - "We only add 

Chlorine and Fluoride to our water.")

and  alum placed the fabric in just for about

10 min.  -- rinsed.

Flattened the fabric on the table and placed

the berries on top

I then rolled the fabric and tied it.

It was steamed for about one hour - shut off

- then later on I decided to steam it again

for about one hour. 

Left it until the next day until it dried

Then unwrapped

You can see the pinkish color and all of 

the color is out of the berries.

Notice now the brownish marks on the left 

side of the cloth 

 In this photo you can clearly see the 

pinkish colors, from the outside of the 

berries, some yellow - from the inside 

of the berries and the brownish marks - 

I'm thinking that the brownish marks

are from the berries when all of the reddish 

color is heated out.

and as in the photo you can see the berries 

are now brown.

I can also detect some bluish/purplish 

spotted colors ...???

 This completely baffles me.

 Washed the fabric with woolite

pink and yellow washed out but

you can see the hint of blue

A very slight hue of pink, golds, beige 

and the light blue marks...???

As blue is a primary color; you can't

mix colors to achieve it. So this has

me scratching my head as to where this

color came from?

I'm working on two more experiments

with the berries.... but I can tell

you so far -- the results are going

to be similar. 

I'm also working on more experimentation

with the leaves. I love the leaves! 

They give the most color.

Happy Dyeing!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Eco Dyeing with Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ Berries Part III

 Eco Dyeing with Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ Berries Part I 

Part I - is my first Berry experiment 

Eco Dyeing with Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ Leaves Part II 

Part II is experimenting with the leaves


This is Part III

Eco Dyeing with Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ Berries Part III

I am experimenting with the Berries


I have to hurry and collect all of the

berries that I possibly can with the

cold weather approaching they are being

to shrivel. 

I put the berries in the stainless

steel pot and covered with my tap

water (which is hard). I added one

teaspoon of alum and let it simmer

not boil for one hour then let it


I forgot to take photos! ugh

I used 100% cotton fabric - one half

yard (no weighing) boiled it and added 

1 teas. washing soda and 1 teas. alum.

But here's the color in the jar...

Looks like a light orange. I let it

sit in the jar for about 5 days -

continually stirring it around.

Trying not to get too excited with

the lovely color because we know

by now - what you see is NOT what

you get!

I took the fabric out and rinsed it

in luke warm water and not surprising

the color came out and I would say 

it's a light beige. booo

So now I get this brainstorm! What if...

I put the liquid left from the leaves

and the liquid left from the berries

and see what happens.

I took one cup of the leaves liquid

 and added one cup of the berry liquid.

The cotton fabric boiled in soda ash

and alum, rinsed and put in the jar 

with the berry/leaves liquid mix.

 Fabric soaked for about

3 days. Dried the fabric and rinsed

and dried again.

This is the result

 It does have a hint of color.

(what's remaining in the jar is 

another experiment with white cotton 

DMC thread)

 You can see a hint of orange.

Here's the two results together

I'm beginning to wonder what the 

results would have been if I omitted

the soda ash in the fabric. 

I do have some berries left and

am thinking of trying something


Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Eco Dyeing with Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ Leaves Part II

My previous post

 Eco Dyeing with Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ Berries 
Part I 

Pyracantha - is listed as an evergreen 

shrub - it has very sharp thorns.

This is a follow up with more 

experimentation. This time with the


 Only this time I used a stainless

steel pot instead of the anodized 

aluminum that I used previously.

I started with the leaves

(maybe about 2 cups) I then added water

(this time I used my tap water)

just enough to cover the leaves. I 

heated the water, just one boil and 

lowered the heat and left it cooking

for about one hour. I added nothing 

to this liquid. Turned off the heat 

and left it soaking for about 24 hours.

 I then strained it -

ooh lala - see the paper towel! I have

high hopes for this one!

The fabric I used is 100% cotton

(fat quarter size)  that

I boiled and then added 1 teaspoon

of alum.

I then put all of this in a jar...


I left it on the window sill for 

about one week.

 Took the fabric out of the jar

and rinsed it in warm water. I then

used woolite to wash.

Now I'm even more excited because

the color is NOT washing out! Yeah!

Here is the fabric hanging on my

curtain rod drying. Looks good!

 Trying to get a good photo of the

color but in each photo the color

looks different.

 I think I would call it a pumpkin 

orange leaning to the brown side.

And here it is ironed - the color

stayed the same. With some other 

experiments I had the color change

as soon as the iron hit it. 

The only other test I would like to

do with this piece is a light test - 

by exposing a square to the sunlight

and enclosing the rest of the fabric

with two card board pieces. I will

leave it in the sunlight for a couple

of days and see what happens. Hopefully

it will pass the test.

I am very happy with the results! 

It will be interesting to do this

experiment again in the spring just

to see if there is a difference in

color. In the spring the Pyracantha

has white flowers - the berries come

out in the fall.

My next post will be about the 

berries that were on this vine -

I'm redoing the experiment again.