“Play is the highest form of research.”
– Albert Einstein
Ecoprinting. Yeah, although I didn’t love it I loved the dyebaths to soak the papers in.
In the past I’ve dyed both cotton and paper with indigo and woad, and then tried dyeing paper green from sage and nettle plants with varying degrees of success. Then during lockdown and while taking part in the Iso Dye Club I remembered all this, and I also drank an awful lot of tea and ate a lot of avocado toast. But that’s okay because I already have a mortgage. So I’m looking at these avocado skins and stones, and the tea leaves and the cogs are turning … I’m sure I read that you can make dye from them.
Cobbling together various bits of intel found on Pinterest, I made a dyebath from 2 avocados’ scrubbed skins and stones. I also had some strong loose leaf tea I wanted to try out so I made another dye bath from those. Luckily I have a plug-in hotplate so I put the avocados into one pan topped up with water, the tea in another and let them simmer happily for hours in the studio. Pinterest also told me to use filtered water and a little bicarbonate of soda in the avocado pan, and throw in a couple of rusty nails as a mordant for the tea and those tips would give me better results.
Then I gathered together some old vintage linens I had, and following the advice from Iso Dye Club, I soaked them all for several hours in dilute soya milk to act as a binder. Dried them thoroughly and re-soaked them in the soya milk until they’d had 3 rounds of it.
Eventually I strained both the pans, and topped them up with water. The fabrics intended for the avocado I tried a variety of ways of folding, tying and pegging as well as incorporating some 10 centime copper coins in one of them. The tea I just scrunched the cotton up and then left everything to simmer for the afternoon, turned off the heat and left the fabrics in the pans overnight.
I was really happy with these results, and a few days later I repeated the exact same steps, this time making larger dye baths. I also used larger old bed linens, pre-soaked in soya milk as before and loosely scrunched them into the bath. I only carefully turned them once or twice during the 24 hours they were soaking. I got some gorgeous results and now everyone has an avocado pillow on their bed, I also have a tea-dyed one and a tee shirt too. I’ve found that the handwash cycle on the machine washes them absolutely fine too which is a relief because, handwashing. Amirite?
As the avocado dye was far from exhausted I thought I would try some papers, different types, ways of dipping, immersion lengths, combining with the tea and using the dyes like ink to paint with.
I absolutely love these papers, and have quite a few ideas around what to use them for. To be continued …