I love to experiment, to explore, to experience the mystery of what is possible when I let the ‘what ifs’ of attempting new things be my guide.
What if I add this rusty old nail to a vat of plants in water? What if I include it in a piece of cloth I’m rolling up that has been decorated with leaves?
I have been exploring the amazing world of eco-dyeing.
According to one website I checked out, eco-dyeing is, “…a contemporary application of the traditions of natural dyeing. In eco printing or dyeing, plants are enclosed in textiles or paper, bundled by winding over rods or stacked in layers and then steamed or immersed in hot water to extract the pigments and produce a print made with plant dyes.” (Source)
For me, it’s a whole lot of possibility steamed up in a pot of mystery and magic giving rise to retrospective musings of what I’ve learned, experienced, witnessed, observed…
Did I also mention its messy? It’s that too. But so much fun the mess becomes inconsequential.
I started the process of dyeing these cloths earlier in the week. I laid out my plants and ephemera on the cotton, rolled and tied them up, placed them in a jar to soak in a mixture of iron water and then, put them into the sun.
The cloth to the left was sun-dyed only. The other two were sun dyed and steamed on the stove for a couple of hours. The only reason the first cloth wasn’t steamed is that I was curious (and impatient) to see how the process went and unrolled it when I brought the jar inside. That’s when I decided steaming was the next step.
And that’s the beauty of any creative process. It puts a spotlight on the traits we possess that can sometimes trip us up.
Take my impatience for example. My beloved likes to tease me by calling my impatience ‘legendary’. I didn’t think of myself as impatient until I reflected on what ‘inspired’ me to unravel the whole role of the first cloth to check it out. If I’d tested it by unrolling just a smidgen of a corner, I’d have seen it needed steaming for a darker imprint.
That said, I like the juxtaposition of the heavily printed versus lightly printed piece of fabric.
Now, here’s the big question – what will I do with these pieces?
I don’t know is the honest answer. The answer to make me look a little less unstructured is, “I can use them as journal covers. I can collage them into a page. I’m sure there’s other things I can do too!”
And that is where the fun comes in.
I don’t know what I want to do with the fabrics. I do know I love the mystery and the science of eco-dyeing. I love the experience of learning something new and the way it challenges me to keep learning more.
So… I’ll keep experimenting with it just for the fun of the exploration.
And that is one of the lessons this foray into eco-dyeing has really put into the spotlight for me.
It isn’t about the ‘why’ or the outcome. It’s all about the journey. About how much joy, laughter, curiosity, inner-knowing and a wealth of other aspects of creative expression that naturally arise from the exploration of what I know, and what I don’t know about myself and the world around me.
And, as I am learning as I explore this new medium, what I don’t know is greater than what I think I know. What a wonderful mystery to explore!