creating beautiful journals and books

Dyeing paper with plants

I have been boiling up plants on the barbeque to make natural dyes in preparation for a natural dye workshop next weekend with Liz Jeneid.

Liz is based at Mt Kembla (on the Illawarra coast near Wollongong, NSW) and is an inspiring teacher with a wealth of knowledge and experience. She taught visual arts in the Faculty of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong from 1983 – 2003 and exhibits her work internationally (including artists’ books). To find out more about Liz Jeneid visit

In the workshop we will dye papers with natural materials and make books. At Liz’s suggestion, I collected coreopsis flowers (Coreopsis tinctoria) from the side of the road. They are cheerful, yellow wildflowers and are prolific around here at the moment.

coreopsis flowers

I also gathered other plants that I thought might produce colour and boiled them up for an hour.

cooking on the barbeque

Before boiling. Clockwise from top left:

Coreopsis; Illawarra Flame Tree; Swiss chard and spinach; Silky Oak; Pomegranate flowers and leaves.

one hour laterAfter boiling for an hour so so.

I strained out the plant material and soaked Japanese kozo and Arches aquarelle papers in separate dye baths for 30 minutes. The coreopsis produced the most dramatic results, especially using an alum bath as a mordant to produce the deep orange colours below.

dyed paper samples

The Flame tree produced a pink on the kozo but didn’t work on the other papers. The recycled rag papers in this picture began as blue and the top one turned greenish when I dyed it in the coreopsis. The spinach, pomegranate and silky oak gave weak results.

I will write again after I have learned more at Liz Jeneid’s workshop and I will take some photographs to show you the results of our weekend.


One comment on “Dyeing paper with plants

  1. sandyaureli
    December 13, 2014

    Thoroughly scientific dear Marama! Love the swatches whether or not they worked – great colours!

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This entry was posted on December 1, 2014 by in Art, Bookmaking, My Blog, My Portfolio and tagged , , , , , .

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