Along with trying out dyeing with eucalyptus leaves, I also experimented with onion skins. The colour obtained from onions does not have good colourfast properties, but with careful washing and protecting from the sun, the colours can be protected quite well. We’ve been saving onion skins for a while, you need a lot, but the local shopkeeper gave us all his loose skins from the onion bucket – a big help!
I was excited to find out what colour these beautiful pink skins would yield. Most of the skins went into an aluminium pan and were covered with water and brought to the boil for 45 minutes, then I strained the liquid, discarded the skins which were now leached of colour, and returned the dye to the heat with some alum mordanted silk and cottons. The remaining few onion skins I laid out on scraps of cloth mordanted with alum and soaked in sea water so they were damp.
Then I bundled the cloth up and wrapped it tightly with string and elastic bands. These I steamed for 1 hour.
The fabrics came out beautifully, or sort of greeny gold, and the silk in particular was lovely. The bundles yielded amazing colour, with traces of maroon in the greens, golds and yellows, this certainly needs more experimenting.
I also played with a mango leaf, again this was bundled, and I think could have been more spectacular if I had left the bundle intact for longer.
I am told rose leaves make good eco-prints, so will try them out. I have also gathered some jackfruit tree leaves and some Indian almond leaves. So the testing will continue.