Practices of the hippies are back
“There’s so much plastic in this culture that vinyl leopard skin is becoming an endangered synthetic.” -Lily Tomlin
When I came of age in the ’80’s, the natural – eco stuff was considered old fashioned. We wanted neon bright colours that can only be achieved with a toxic dose of synthetic dye compounds, (many of which cannot even be purchased anymore). Leave that drab avocado pink to the pot-smoking hippies of the ’70’s, tucked away in little enclaves of Vancouver Island.
Wow! This past 50 year cycle has sure brought the practices of the hippies back into a nice soft focus. All those ideas of living off the land, hand dying textiles and making our own stuff could not be more cool right now. But, this time around, I don’t think it is a fad to be practiced by a few, only to be abandoned in search of the flashy city life. I think that the eco-movement we are seeing now, is here to stay.
Even though naturally dyed textiles only accounts for a fraction of the total market, there is significant interest in this more sustainable way of creating clothing in the apparel industry. Thanks to social media, this movement is gaining traction as anyone with an internet connection and a home kitchen can be part of. The knowledge of a few homesteading islanders can be shared far and wide, inspiring people from all walks of life.
Making Natural Dyes with Fruits and Vegetables shows how easy it is to get started. The idea here is not to replicate synthetic dye techniques. The hues and tones will be different, unique and not uniform. There will be variances within the dye batch and from one experiment to the next. Just as all hand-made items are originals, embrace the wabi-sabi of it all.
After all we are not living in a time when the choice of color worn out in public means much of anything. To Dye For: A history of natural and synthetic dyes tells the story of how our world was once tightly ruled, not just by kings but by the color of their costumes as well. Every time I look back into historical accounts of how we used to live, I am grateful to be alive now and reside in this country.
Of course, as with anything worthwhile, starting out with natural dye projects is not necessarily easy peasy. I have a pot soaking with leek tops right now. I thought the water looked really green when I started out, but now I’m not so sure. But, I’m going to leave it on the counter for a week and see what happens, (unless I need that pot before hand). 15 Reasons Your Natural Dye Project FAILED (And Why You Should Do It Anyway) is a hilarious look at various other natural dye experiments in the kitchen.
Avocado Dye Is, Naturally, Millennial Pink. If you are not a millennial you may not know there is a thing about the color pink, (I didn’t, but google it). I’m not even sure that the shade of pink coming from avocado pits is really the shade of the fad, but that can depend on much. Take a walk through the process of one designer and enjoy her results. It makes me want to switch to that kind of work in a heartbeat. But I would focus on the color green, because we live in a rainforest!
I thought it might be easier to dye paper with natural dyes, hence the leek tops on the counter in my kitchen. But a quick strip test last night to show my husband the water was green, did not yield results. Oh well, anything that easy would not be worthwhile. I might need to do a little more research and pick a plant medium which is more beginner friendly! I briefly thought about the color that could be achieved with a bottle of rose, but dismissed that idea as a waste of perfectly good wine for drinking.