Botanical Printing & Dyeing - Dreamweaving Designs

Posted by Susan Liane, The Smuggler's Daughter on 7/20/2014 to Fiber Arts
What a wonderful class I attended this weekend with Jo Ann Manzone of Dreamweaving Designs in Ashland, Oregon. Another local treasure, JoAnn is a fiber artist who creates one-of-a-kind wearable art pieces and her specialty is nuno felting.
Fortunately for us, Jo Ann is sharing her knowledge and one of her offerings is in Eco-Printing or Botanical Printing.  It turns out that there are many ways of extracting color from the plant materials that are all around us.  To get us started, JoAnn explained the cold extraction-hotbundling method. 

Both cotton and silk can be used as the fabric, but it is silk that is most ready for plant dyes and doesn't need a lot of preparation.  I felt a bit reticent to use silk for the class, so I started on some cotton and a small piece of silk/cotton suiting. Vera Wang Basketweave Suiting

This is Judy and her fabricWe prepared our fabric pieces with a pre-mordanting process the night before the class. A mordant is a substance that is used to set dyes on fabrics. There are a lot of mordanting substances that can be used, but Jo Ann suggested either a protein solution, using soy milk, plain yogurt or eggs, or an alkaline solution using sodium carbonate, 1 tablespoon to 2 gallons of water.

Although pre-mordanting is not required for silk, it can help to make the colors richer and deeper, so you may want to pre-mordant. (This is my friend Judy, working on her project)

Starting off with wet fabric strips, we used eucalyptus leaves, onion skins, plums, and a wide variety of plant leaves to create a design on our fabric. Then we rolled the strips up tightly over a small dowel, tied it tight with string, and set it on a steamer in a pot of hot water.  Jo Ann advises that letting the bundle steam for an hour is best, although we got some dyes in less time. Ideally, leave the leaves on overnight. (The dowel below is what we wrapped the fabric strips around.)

I was so surprised when I unbundled my fabric strips and saw what the plants did.  The onion skins, of all things, were my favorite, creating a muted orange color on the fabric.  Eucalyptus leaves also left an orange, while other leaves left green or purple - often not what I had expected. It was great fun to view the unveiling of all of the fabric strips created by others in the class.

Jo Ann also showed us how we can "over dye" the fabrics with "tea" made from either the bark of a madrone tree or the leaves of eucalyptus tree. This added a fairly brown color, depending on how long you let the fabric simmer in the tea.

Check out Jo Ann's work at and if you happen to be in California, Jo Ann will be exhibiting at the Palo Alto Festival of the Arts on August 23 & 24. She will be teaching a more extensive class here in Ashland during the month of September. Her work and her teaching is simply delightful and I am looking forward to using the botanical printing process for fabric on a sewing project soon.

Share |
The Conversation So Far
Ginny Date 7/21/2014
Thanks Susi - This really looks like fun! I love this whole idea. I need to try this. Just need a little more info on how to apply the pre-mordanting process. Thanks!!
Susan Liane, The Smuggler's Daughter Date 7/21/2014
Thanks Ginny. I soaked my fabric strips overnight in a quart of soy milk diluted with a gallon of water but you probably don't need that much soy milk. In the morning I rinsed the fabric with plain water, then applied the plant materials.
Judy Date 7/21/2014
Susan's friend Judy here! All of us had a great time playing with different fabrics and different plant materials. In the picture above I used onions skins, plum leaves, some eucalyptus leaves and onion skins all of which produced a rich fairs with umber and deep purple tones. On another sample I used both avocado pits, sliced into small pieces and ornamental plum fruit and seeds. The light beige avocado skins produced a nice orange print. Great fabrics that I now need to incorporate into a great garment!
Vicki Eckert Date 7/5/2018
Do you teach class on you tube?
Susan Liane Date 7/5/2018
I don't know of any you tube videos from Jo Ann but you can check out her website for info on her workshops.
Don't Hold Back - Say What You Think
Follow my blog with BloglovinFollow

 Sewing Projects
 Fiber Arts
 Book Reports

 Vogue 9081
 Fall Patterns from Vogue
 The Creative Muse and The Madrid Top
 Sewing Retreat
 Exciting Designs from the Winter Holidays Collection at Vogue Patterns
 Summer Patterns from Vogue

 December 2018
 August 2017
 June 2017
 November 2016
 September 2016
 March 2016
 November 2015
 October 2015
 September 2015
 August 2015
 July 2015
 June 2015
 January 2015
 December 2014
 November 2014
 October 2014
 September 2014
 August 2014
 July 2014
 June 2014
 May 2014
 April 2014
 March 2014
 February 2014
 January 2014
 December 2013
 November 2013
 October 2013