What do you do when your eco-printing results flop big time?
I’d forgotten just how disappointing that can be. My latest creative efforts have been very satisfying, so I felt a bit slugged when today’s experiment went south. In one day, I went from anticipation, to disappointment, to determination, to delight. Here’s how.
I’m in a real creative phase at the moment, and this morning woke up itching to dye something. I rummaged in one of my cupboards and came across a brown paper bag stuffed to bursting with some old (literally – they’re vintage) linings from kimonos that a friend of mine gave me a couple of years ago to eco-print.
Using one oblong of silk that had once graced the inside of a kimono (and perhaps a geisha’s) sleeve, I set about eco-printing it with some kale slaw mix from Aldi, as I figured all the ingredients in that had potential to give up their dye. I also threw on some cut red onion and a few lychee skins for good measure.
All excited, I wrapped it tightly in a bundle and waited for it to steam. Well, I didn’t wait, I distracted myself with another project until the timer went off.
Like a kid in a toy shop, when it was cool enough, I unravelled the string and swept away the damp plant material … only to be massively disappointed.
The kale hadn’t left any marks, the lychees, only an imprint. The only marks given up had come reluctantly from the red cabbage, beetroot and onion. After hanging the soaking strip out to dry, I was comforted to note a slight oxidation on the lychees, but overall, I had to admit that this wasn’t my most spectacular result. The strongest part of the print was the smell – reminiscent of vegetable soup.
As I had to do the weekly shopping, I set off to the shops in town, all the time pondering in the back of my mind how I could do the vintage silk more justice. Cruising past the vegetables in IGA, my little eye spied a large red cabbage. Perfect! I brought it home heavily disguised as family food, then purloined it for a higher purpose. I must admit, knowing my two boys’ (husband and teenage son) taste in brassicas, it wouldn’t be hugely missed.
A few hours later of multi-tasking: dying with preparing the family dinner – which I didn’t think would be a problem with this eco-dye, considering the most toxic chemical I used to shift the dye colour was cooking salt – I eventually brought into life two unique creations.
The first was chicken Mediterranean style cooked with mirepoix, capsicum, passata and Moroccan spices which looked and tasted rather good, if you’ll pardon the self-praise.
The second was the rather gorgeous cabbage-dyed vintage kimono silk.
I know, it looks like something I could have dragged out of a river in this photo, but as you’ll see shortly, it dried beautifully.
One amusing result was the queen’s head which imprinted from one of the 50 cent pieces that I ‘shirboried’ before dyeing. I think the coin must have had a chemical on its surface, because the bright purple image is a lot sharper than the other shades of lavender from the cabbage. Here it is directly after untying the bundle. Once dried and ironed, I noticed some interesting and unexpected small dark brown oval marks on the fabric. It occurred to me suddenly that these marks were where the lychee skin had been, and it was possibly tannin from the skin that had highlighted the dye in those areas!
Finally, here is the result, showing just how beautiful natural dyeing can be, especially when imparted onto a natural material, and in particular, one that has aged as gracefully as the Japanese lady who once wore it.