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Eco-Printing

I saw an eco-printed shirt at a gallery shop & I loved it. It turned out I knew the artist and she was there at the opening. I bought the shirt and convinced her to give a class.



I have this problem, when I see something I like I want to make it – within reason. I know my limits, sort of. Most of the time I’ll try, I don’t mind failure, occasionally I get a good laugh out of it. I did try making cannoli once, not great. Actually a lot of my projects don’t turn out well; dyeing with goldenrod (my fault I wanted to do it NOW and I didn’t have everything I needed), spinning, patchworking upcycled shirts, etc. Some things I can figure out how to make them, sometimes I use YouTube and my favorite is to take a class.

Rose graciously gave a free class for some friends at her home, complete with a pot luck lunch while we waited for the steaming process. Attached are the directions she gave us. I didn’t have silk which is the best choice of fabric. I used a cotton t-shirt and did the milk soaking thing prior to class. I brought lots of plant material and covered the shirt well. I loved the process, I love working with natural materials. (I’m sitting outside writing this and I saw my fuschia drop a flower, I ran inside for muslin. I decided to rub the bloom on cloth and see if I could get color. I found more flowers on the ground and I got great color. Probably every day now I will repeat this with the spent blooms. I won’t pick them, I enjoy them on the plant. And, I learned something new. (Next blog will talk more about this!))


https://rosejoy22.tumblr.com/ - rose’s blog, please visit



As you can see from the pix my shirt came out the worst, yes that’s me with the almost white t-shirt. Rose has cotton shirts that she successfully printed, so I can’t blame the fabric. The thought was maybe I didn't roll it tight enough or didn’t do the milk thing right. I was a little disappointed and wanted to try again. You can see the good color everyone else got, they all used silk (from Dharma trading). To my surprise eucalyptus gave the strong orange color. Rose’s instructions list good plants to use. That was another thing, I experimented with all plants. I should learn to do it by the book before experimenting! I can’t seem to help myself.

So I bought a steamer at a thrift store for $3. Before this class I didn’t even know what a steamer was. Then I got a metal rod from the landlord for the roll. I tried to redo the cotton t-shirt. It came out a weird color, I think because of the pipe I used. Experiment #2.

Then I order silk from Dharma. I had no idea what I was ordering, it came in different weights or plys or something. What I got was pretty thin and flimsy. So I did the eco printing, with the lead pipe and the color was very subtle. Experiment #3. (FYI- I then reused the piece of silk and tried ice dyeing. I didn’t exactly do it by the directions and it got more color than I wanted. I will try ice dyeing again and use less colorant.). I went and bought a copper pipe to be ready for next time.

When I went thrifting last week I finally found a silk shirt. I have been looking for at least 6 months. So I tried again. Below is me preparing the shirt.



Success! I am very happy with the color and plant imprints. So I am on the hunt for more silk shirts. I upcycle and I’m cheap so, I will not be buying a new shirt. I love going to thrift stores, estate and garage sales.

Read Rose’s blog and instructions, try it and email me your results.

Tip – use silk and copper rod!

Fern does not come out as good as expected.

The red is bee balm (monarda) leaves and the leaf imprint is rose.

Good luck!

Eco-Prining handout (1)
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