Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Natural Fabric Dyeing With The Wild Dyery

Over the last year I have become increasingly interested in how I, as a lover of fashion and beauty, can carve out a new approach that fulfils my desire for lovely things without being too destructive to the planet.
To this end I have been sourcing fashion made in a sustainable way, fair trade items and incorporating second hand clothes into my wardrobe.
This approach has also worked its way into my tee-shirt company Nicky Rockets We have recently started a new line of eco teeshirts printed in water based inks on climate neutral tees and have even swapped our old packaging for bio degradable products.

We dye a lot of our tee-shirts, especially the ones in our plus size ranges. It wont shock my plus size readers to hear that finding the tee shirts to print on, from a fair trade pipeline has been tricky, finding them in the colours we want is basically impossible. To this end we dye plain tees to the colour's we need. We use the eco dylon but inspired by very talented friend Justine Aldersey Williams I have been toying with the idea of trying to dye some of our tees using plant based dyes.
A tablecloth, totebag and tee shirt dyed using natural indigo

Justine runs a company called The Wild Dyery she is an incredible talented artist, textile and print designer and is fascinated with the ancient art of using plants to create colours for fabric. Her work is truly beautiful and her recently opened studio so inspiring.
Queen of Indigo Justine
When I saw that The Wild Dyery were offering a one day course as an introduction to natural plant dyeing I jumped at the chance to attend. It was actually a class which had been booked by the Wirral embroiders guild and they very kindly let me join them for what turned out to be a wonderful day of plant dyeing magic.

Getting our dye thang on

Justine started off by telling us a little of the history of dyeing. Focusing on Madder (red) Weld (yellow) and woad/indigo (blue) 
The environmental benefits to using plant based dyes are huge so rediscovering this heritage craft has never been more important.History, Art, fashion-this ticks all my boxes. It was brilliant.

using Indigo to revive my old tablecloth

And how amazing does it look.
Using the three key dyes we were able to create 12 primary colours and were quickly dying our own swatches of silk to create an Eco spectrum-it was really quite extraordinary. We modified the colours using iron water and were also taught various Japanese Shibori (knot) techniques so we could tie dye scarfs in the patterns we like.
My Eco spectrum-so proud of these
To come away after only one day having created 12 colours from just three plants was really empowering but also really humbling. There is so much to learn about these plants, and its so dependent on the water you use, how long the dye is in the vat, how gently you stir it. It really is like making magic potions.  I had gone there thinking about trying the techniques on some of Nicky's designs (if I had any skill it) and it definitely ignited a real interest.

All these colours made from three plants-incredible

The ladies from the embroiders Guild are real experts in their own fields of crafts and quite  a few had already tried plant dyeing (in fact two had travelled to India to see the techniques first hand) so I definitely felt like the novice of the group. That said, with Justine's wonderful tuition I still managed to create all my swatches and dye a beautiful sunshine yellow headscarf using Weld and the Arashi Shibori technique (wrapping the silk around a pipe with elastic bands and leaving it to absorb the dye) 
In my beautiful scarf dyed using weld
Justine makes it look very easy (she had very kindly scoured our samples and provided substantive dyes which didn't require mordanting) and she is a real artist with the indigo. My plans to jump straight in were a little bit premature and I think I need to spend the summer working on creating the dyes myself and seeing which shades and designs work. Whether I do incorporate it into our own designs or simply create some beautiful items just of my own shall remain to be seen. 

My first indigo dyed tee-shirt
Look at all the beautiful work we created
It was a fantastic experience and I would really recommend anyone booking one of her workshops. she has also started an amazing regular event called "The Indigo Social" where you can come for just an hour and dye your own clothing, meet like minded souls, have a bit of food and absorb the great energy at her studio. Not to be missed.
To find out about The Wild Dyery go to the website or visit the very vibrant facebook page 
Check out my Youtube channel for vlogs, beauty, fashion and vegan inspired reviews.


Brand New eco Design  over at  Nicky Rockets
Printed on climate neutral, fair trade tees in water based ink. 

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