I believe that if you can achieve the most amazing prints and colours just by using natural elements which don’t harm our planet in any way then toxic dyes should never be considered.
Natural dyeing is a very slow process, but that’s the beauty of it. Learn to slow down and just look around you, observe what nature is doing, try to understand it, feel it, love, respect and protect it. There is a reason why we call it “Mother Earth” and that’s because we would not be here without it. It’s really as simple as that! It’s time for everyone to think about who makes your clothes? Where and how exactly they’re made and how are they dyed? Wouldn’t you prefer to wear something harmless and unique? I definitely do.
An eco print can never be repeated, because every leaf on this planet is different, even the two sides of that leaf are different. I like that though and I’ll let you think about it, but for now I’ll show you how to achieve those beautiful prints on your garments.
OK, let’s start!
1. First of all you just need to go for a walk and see what you can find. Start by looking for fallen leaves and flowers. Choose the ones you like!! I always suggest checking if they left any marks on the ground, if they did then you will definitely receive a strong print. From my observations it’s better to harvest after a few sunny days; leaves usually lose their strength in colour after the rain, because they are more diluted by water.
2. Choose your fabric. I recommend you to start with silk (eco friendly silk exists) or wool as they take the dye much easier. Later when you have experimented enough with the plants you can move onto plant based fabrics. I won’t even mention synthetic ones…you can imagine what I think about them.
3. Next step is to place your plants anywhere you want on your garment and make a tight bundle.
4. Now you chose what you would like to do next. If you’ve not very patient then the best way would be to cook it. You can steam or boil it, try both methods! They will give you different results. How long for? This is something I can’t answer because I don’t know which plants you’ve collected, but let’s say between 30minutes to 6 hours. You will see colours slowly coming through and you’ll know when it’s ready. Don’t overcook it though; colours from some plants can start disappearing if you’ve left it for too long. So check on it regularly and don’t forget to add more water if necessary.
(4) Option 2: You can also solar dye if you live in a hot, sunny place. I like putting my bundles in a bucket of water and just leaving them under the sun.
(4) Option 3: If you don’t want to be reminded by it, you can bury it in your garden and take it out after a few months, the soil will add some colours as well.
If you decided to go with cooking or solar dyeing then once you think it’s ready, take it out and let it cool down and dry. This will allow for a stronger print. Time really matters when it comes to eco-printing.
5. When you can’t wait any longer just unwrap it and let your leaves go back where they belong.
6. This part of the process is always very exciting! Let your fabric hang in the shade and dry completely before rinsing. You don’t have to rinse at all if you don’t want to. Quiet often it will smell really good and you can just wear it straight away.
Please don’t be disappointed if the results are not what you expected. It’s all about experimenting and learning how different plants react to different fibres. I had so many fails when I just started, but if you’re persistent you will see real magic appear right in front of your eyes in no time. If I can do it so can you!
>>> Show us your eco prints by using the hashtag #MOCHNIDIY and we will share our favorites.<<<
Photos and text by Liya Mirzaeva.
Liya Mirzaeva is a Sydney based artist who believes in making unique, sustainable, ethical and zero-waste products. She specialises in wood-fired ceramics and natural dyeing, “I’m fascinated by the science behind it all and drawn to the unknown that nature offers us”. She travels a lot in her camper van, in constant search of clay and different plants. She produces her work both on the road and in her studio back in the city. Liya believes in sharing her knowledge with others and inspire people to live a more conscious life. She’s known under her business name Liya Mira and her work can be viewed through her website liya.com.au