ecourse

The Iso Dye Club ecourse reflection

The live round of the Iso Dye Club has come to an end, although new students are still welcome to join and will be able to work through the ecourse at their own pace. It has been the most wonderful, inspiring whirlwind of an adventure. I feel so grateful to all the people who threw themselves into it with such enthusiasm and dedication, sharing their beautiful creations on Instagram and in our private group.

It has been such a good way to spend this quarantine/isolation time, hopefully for my students but also for me personally. I really appreciated staying busy, and feeling uplifted by everyone’s kind, supportive comments.

I’m also really glad that I offered it as ‘pay what you can’, to make it accessible to lots of people, especially at this time when so many of us are out of work or underemployed. Going forward, I want to bring this pricing model to more of my business, because it is a small way that I can help to create a more equitable world. Or as Charles Eisenstein puts it, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.

I want to share some of what we did in the course, because I really enjoyed creating simple lessons using materials that people would be able to access easily at home or in their neighbourhood, yet still get some stunning results. This craft doesn’t have to be complicated or precise. At it’s most basic, you just put leaves on paper or fabric, hold it together somehow and heat it up! And I encouraged everyone in the course to embrace the results they got, because sometimes in eco-printing, as in life, we don’t get what we expected and it can be very healing to learn to accept this.

Week 1: Rolled Bundles

For Week 1, we started with some simple rolled bundles, on both paper and fabric. We rolled around jars and cans – even rusty cans, if people were lucky enough to have these highly coveted, utterly magical eco-printing tools!

We used plain fabric and paper, to see how even the most simple technique could still give us some beautiful colours and patterns:

Week 2: Simple Homemade Mordants and Binders

In Week 2, we prepared our fabric and paper with homemade iron mordants and with protein binders (from kitchen scraps of yogurt, cow’s milk, nut milk or other protein-rich liquids). As well as leaves and flowers, I also demonstrated with some ingredients from the kitchen – onion skins, tea leaves and a sprinkling of turmeric – because some of the students were in isolation in apartments, or still emerging from the depths of winter. Here you can see the different colours and strength of results on plain cotton, and that prepared with a protein binder and iron mordant (from left to right).

Week 3: Folded Bundles

This week, we folded our paper and fabric and cooked them in dyebaths. On paper we experimented with creating different amounts of colour in the background. These bundles are both the same paper with the same leaves, cooked in the same dye bath, but I shared a simple trick for creating either dark or light backgrounds:

And on cotton, we created some shibori patterns around our leaf prints. This was one of my favourite lessons from the whole course. The leaves were eco-printed on fabric prepared with a simple yogurt binder, with a few tricks to get these vibrant results:

Week 4: Fun Things to do with Pale Results

When eco-printing, it is inevitable that some of your results will be pale or uninteresting. So we finished the course by exploring 3 ways to improve our pale prints. One option was to re-print the paper or fabric, with the addition of iron to bring out more colour and detail:

Another option was to draw over our paper eco-prints, either what we could see or what we could imagine. I shared some simple tips to encourage even the most reluctant artist to give it a try:

And we finished the course with a bonus lesson, because I wanted to thank everyone who was involved. So we used some of our pale fabric results to create some mini shibori moons:

This is another contender for my most favourite lesson. Sometimes the marks and leaf prints already on the fabric creates the most wonderful serendipitous results:

 

I hope you enjoyed this peek into the ecourse. If you are interested in joining us, I have left enrollments open because I want this course to be available to anyone who wants to be comforted or inspired by the magical combination of plants, creativity and community. Read more or join us here – the sliding scale starts at about the price of a coffee!

And whether you are enrolled in the course, or just enjoying this preview, I’d love to know which week or lesson is your favourite?!

Introducing the Iso Dye Club

In this time of isolation and quarantine, I wanted to offer some moments of peace and joy. The healing power of nature and creativity. And so I have created the Iso Dye Club.

This ecourse is a gentle introduction to natural dyeing and eco-printing techniques, for cotton and paper. The focus is on making do with what we have. Simple methods and simple materials. Finding joy in the process and in unexpected results.

It’s also a chance to slow down, to connect with plants and with fellow artists/makers in isolation. Creativity and nature ground me, especially in uncertain and changing times. I look forward to sharing this with you too.

We’ll be using kitchen scraps to make natural dyes and binders, and eco-printing on paper and fabric that we find around the house. Here’s some results on printer paper:

This is a bit different from my other courses, because I wanted to offer something more affordable, and more accessible to those of you who can’t access fancy materials or lots of plants at this time. So our results might be softer and simpler, but this feels like good medicine for these times.

Join the Iso Dye Club to learn how to eco-print on paper and fabric using materials from around your house and garden. Use what you have, pay what you can.

 

The course is 4 weeks long, with 2 videos each week that cover both paper and fabric projects. There’s also a bonus video to get you started, about natural dyeing with easter eggs. Here’s a preview:

 

If you are interested in this offering, click here to read more or to join us. There’s a lovely group already, beginning to share their results on Facebook, and on Instagram #isodyeclub.

You’ll have access to the course for as long as it exists, so you can do it in your own time and come back to it as often as you like.

Soy Milk Binder eco-printing module

Last year I created my eco-printing ecourse, Living Colour. It is a comprehensive guide to eco-printing on natural and semi-synthetic fabrics, using alum, iron and soy milk, and a whole range of techniques. But for those of you who are interested in just one topic, rather than the whole course, I have begun breaking up the ecourse into four modules: ‘Intro to Cotton’, ‘Advanced Cotton’, ‘Soy Milk Binders’ and ‘Wool and Shibori’.

I released the Soy Milk Binder module in November, and will make the rest of the modules available through 2020. Here are some samples of work by my students:

This lovely piece was eco-printed by Debbie Lucas. She prepared the cotton with soy milk binder, then used geranium and herb Robert leaves which have created a bright, layered pattern.

 

These soft, harmonious prints were created by Bobbi Stowers, using rose, passion vine and eucalyptus leaves. Again, the cotton was prepared with soy milk binder.

 

It is also possible to prepare fabric with cow’s milk, which creates a similar effect to soy milk because both are protein rich. Kathy Little has used this to great effect in this sample of eucalyptus leaves eco-printed on cotton. You can see how the cow’s milk makes the cotton take the dyes very similarly to wool, creating vivid orange prints.

 

You can view more samples of my student’s work in the Student Gallery on my ecourse website. There you can also browse the ecourse curriculums and some sample lessons.

Eco-printing on nylon

It is a common misconception that natural dyes only work on natural fibres like cotton, linen, wool and silk. While many synthetic fibres won’t work, the chemical composition of nylon means that it can absorb acidic and slightly basic plant-based dyes. And I have found that very striking eco-prints can be achieved on nylon through a few different methods.

It may seem incongruous to go to all the effort of creating natural dyes only to use them on synthetic fabric. But a big drive behind my work is the desire to make use of existing materials. It is far more environmentally sustainable to eco-print over old nylon clothing than new, organic cotton. The nylon already exists, whereas growing organic cotton uses huge amounts of water (even more water than conventional cotton, although at least without the synthetic pesticides).

There are plenty of old, unwanted nylon nighties and camisoles in second hand stores. Once refreshed with eco-print designs, they become far more desirable and can even be worn as clothing rather than underwear or pyjamas. I hope this post inspires you to think differently about nylon.

 

Eco-printing on nylon with an iron mordant

This top was my first experiment with eco-printing on nylon. I had no idea how it would turn out and was amazed by the clarity of the prints.

This top was mordanted with iron and eco-printed with soaked eucalyptus leaves, using the same method I share in my eco-printing on cotton ebook, Gum Leaf Alchemy. The leaves have left clear, strong prints in a beautiful earthy brown. The lace has also taken the natural dyes really well.

 

Eco-printing plus indigo on nylon

This nightie was eco-printed in the same way, although the leaf prints turned out more pale, in shades of beige and orange.

After eco-printing, I dyed this nightie in an indigo vat, which has created a beautiful blue background. Like eco-printing, indigo doesn’t tend to work on synthetic fibres with nylon being an exception. Notice how the eucalyptus leaf prints have resisted the indigo, while the background has taken it up well.

 

Eco-printing over a soy milk binder

Recently I have begun preparing nylon clothing with a soy milk binder then letting it dry and cure before eco-printing on top. Below is a nightie prepared in this way then eco-printed with eucalyptus leaves. I covered half of the back with leaves then folded the other half on top, creating an intriguing symmetrical pattern.

Again, the lace took up the natural dyes really well. There are also some darker background patches made by wrapping the fabric around a rusty tin can.

This is one of the methods we will be exploring in my new eco-printing ecourse, the Soy Milk Binder Module. We will also be eco-printing on cotton and other plant-based fibres, using a variety of techniques in combination with soy milk binders. Enrolments for the live course are now open, but you can join anytime and will have ongoing access to the course materials.

Living Colour: Eco-printing on Cotton Ecourse

I am delighted to announce the release of my new ecourse, Living Colour, which explores different techniques of eco-printing on cotton. It’s my way of lovingly guiding you through the process if you are too far away to attend a workshop. We’ll be creating our own wardrobe of living colour, using the natural dyes in plants.

Learn how to eco-print on cotton with Louise Upshall from Gumnut Magic

Eco-printing newbies are welcome as we will cover the basics of preparing leaves and fabric and rolling bundles. But we will also explore some things that I haven’t shared in any workshops yet, such as combining eco-print and shibori methods, and using a soy binder. You can view the trailer and curriculum or register now over at learn.gumnutmagic.com