creating beautiful journals and books

Natural dyeing for book artists


marama imprint #1

Liz Jeneid’s workshop at Mt Kembla in NSW last weekend was informative, inspiring and a lot of fun. We boiled up a variety of plants including brown and red onion skins; whole dried pomegranates; coreposis (see my last post); eucalyptus bark and leaves; arcacia bark (black wattle and Acacia binervata); canna; walnut shells; mango skin and seeds and maize skins. These plants do not require a mordant to get a good colour.


Cathie's samples

Cathie’s samples

Over the two days, we had many pans bubbling away on gas burners on the deck of Liz’s studio and on the second day, we added mordants such as alum and rusty iron to some of the pots for extra effect. Some of the colours were delicious.

dye samples #2

plant dyes#1

Liz is a wonderful teacher and very generous with her knowledge and experience.

red onion skins

Red onion skins just on the boil

Things to remember:

  • dye hot (while the pan is simmering)
  • the first dips are the strongest and
  • the longer you leave the paper (we also dyed natural silk) the stronger the colour.
brown onion skins

Rives BFK paper folded and dyed with brown onion skins

Because I will be using the papers we dyed in artists’ books and journals, I’m not too fussy about whether these colours are ‘fugitive’ or not. However, Liz did let us play with some beautiful lichen dyes she made in 1976. They are intense purples and browns and are definitely stable. You can see one of the purples in the image at the top of this blog.

We also boiled pressed flowers and leaves in our plant dye pots using ceramic tiles and strong paper-clips to hold everything together. The results were colourful, unpredictable and sometimes dazzling. I will tell you more about that next time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Dr Emma Powell

Coastal Farm Escape

Share our alternative lifestyle

The Fiber Wire

Plugged in and turned on. All paper. All the time.

Helene's Lists

A topnotch site

Pearl Button Bridal

recreating beauty one pearl button at a time


an adventure into contemporary art and puppetry


creating beautiful journals and books

%d bloggers like this: