My experiments dyeing with eucalyptus leaves were partly disappointing and partly very exciting. I pre-mordanted the cloth with alum, and then also dipped the cloth in sea-water for eco-printing, this is a mordant that India Flint recommends.
I kept a few eucalyptus leaves for bundling to make eco-prints, laying them on sea-water dampened cloth. I bundled them up securing them with string and elastic bands, and then I steamed them for about an hour and half. Left them to cool.
The remaining leaves I chopped up, covered with water in an earthenware pot and brought to the boil. Then simmered for an hour. The smell was amazing, very therapeutic.
The resulting liquid dye was disappointingly pale.
I then strained out the leaves (good for compost!) and added some cloth, cotton and silk, and left it at just a simmer for an hour. The result was a pale grey/gold. I think perhaps next time I should use a lot more leaves, and extract the dye for longer than an hour and leave the cloth in the dye to cool.
The eco-prints were much more successful, though again, I think leaving them bundled for longer might make a stronger print.
Now I’m off to search for more eucalyptus leaves. If you’d like to see some amazing eco-prints have a look at Lotte Helleberg’s blog – such beautiful work.