I spent a lovely Saturday earlier this month at a workshop held at an art centre in the Forest of Dean. Cinderford Artspace is situated in the centre of town with free parking. It offers many different courses, both regular and single days for all ages in various art disciplines. Performing arts, painting, pottery and writing to name a few but I was there to learn about eco printing and natural dyeing. Lizzie Godden was our tutor, a lovely lady who was exhibiting at the Festival of Quilts this year. 


We started with eco printing, laying leaves on silk with an iron blanket and then rolling around a wooden dowel. This was then placed in a steamer for the rest of the day whilst we got on with other methods. We need to leave this for a few days to allow the transfer to take. I can’t wait to unwrap and see the results.

Next came printing on paper, cartridge but watercolour works well too apparently. We dipped our leaves into iron water this time then layered them with the paper. This little packages were then sandwiched in between two tiles, rubber bands used to secure and then popped into a dye bath of red onion skins that had been happily simmering away in the background. These we cooked for a while to allow the colour to develop.

Wrapping the  eco printing roll.

We took some time for lunch but Lizzie talked us through different plants that can be used for dyeing and eco printing. She had a wonderful set of handouts which was good as there was a large amount of information, I’d meant to take a note book but had left it behind so this was really handy. Lots of common garden plants can be used and I can’t wait to try some out. The range of colours that you get aren’t the strong artificial ones we are used to but subtle, softer yet almost richer. These can be changed by adding different ingredients or by changing the Ph balance.

Eco printing results 

Lizzie also suggested several books and had several there for us to look at. The afternoon session was spent talking about and doing Shibori. We all tried a couple of stitch methods which were then popped in the dye bath to brew whilst we faced our last technique which was to do a ‘slow bundle’. Now these need patience! We layer out leaves onto prepared cotton, rolled and held them with rubber bands and then popped them into a jam jar. We then poured the dye bath into the jars and sealed. These will need to wait for weeks or months. My friend and I have promised to open them in the New Year.

If you have never tried eco printing or dyeing with natural I can thoroughly recommend trying a course such as this. There are lots of points that I haven’t mentioned here from mordants how to prepare fabric for use, I have so much to learn but the first step was exciting and I think it could be addictive. Now where’s my large saucepan?