Dyes on Paper

As the main purpose for starting solar dyeing with plants was to find more organic colours that I could use on paper, I record here some of my recent paper experiments.  This first one is on kozo (mulberry)  paper, and coloured by a pomegranite skin solar dye.  I squashed the folded paper into the jar, and really like the way the scrunched and twisted paper keeps its shape when dry.  I am not sure where the dark marks came from.


I have also experimented with Knotweed – Persicaria.   Knotweed grows in my veggie patch.  There are two varieties – one smaller than the other.  The smallest one, P. maculosa, has been used here.  It seems simpler just to scan my test book pages! – here they are:


This is the page for Privet berries.   They are poisonous, by the way.  The colour has lasted well in the solar dye jars, and each brew is different.  I have not achieved a blue which you can get with adding alum and salt.  One source said the berries had to be ripe in order to do this.  I collected two lots, the second one of which is this test.  The berries were round and plump, seemed to be very ripe, but apparently, perhaps, not…


This next page is abut Viburnum tinus.  I solar dyed the drupes which are a beautiful steely blue.  It is interesting how the colours change according to type of paper or textile to which they are applied.


(Mis)Adventures in Eco Print 3

At last I seem to be getting somewhere with this colour transfer…

For this experiment I decided to try some other plants from the garden. I noticed that a hydrangea leaf when soaked in hot water even for a short time produced a lovely yellow. I collected some poplar leaves and small branches as the recent gales tore off a large branch from one of the shelter trees. We had to spend some time cutting up the large branch, and tidying up our neighbours’ paddock. So I thought to commemorate this, I would try the poplar leaves and twigs in a steamed eco-print.

Poplar branches

I modified my steaming process by using folded chicken wire in the bottom of the pot, which meant the lid fitted properly and so prevented too much steam escaping. The bundles were cotton with rice and alum mordant enclosing a poplar twig, bark and leaf, and silk soaked in alum enclosing poplar twig, bark and leaves plus one hydrangea leaf.



Yellow dye was visible on the silk once the steaming started, but very little on the cotton bundle, so that colour must not have come from the hydrangea leaf.

Here is the dyed silk cloth unwound.


And a close up of the imprint.

Poplar print

The cotton bundle was a little disappointing, plenty of yellow and a pale tan colour plus some nice marks left by the (previously used) cotton thread for tying. I think the yellow must have come from the lichen on the bark. The poplar leaf is only just visible at the foot of the fabric, the green leaf point just to the left of the piece of cotton thread.

Poplar cotton