Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist. Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Monday, 8 April 2019

Eco-dyeing - a magical absorbing art!

Who would have thought that playing around with leaves on bits of cloth and paper was so addictive? I guess thousands of people around the world would agree if you can go by the number of people who enjoy the art of eco-dyeing and printing. 

The first time I tried this art was at a summer school workshop  in January 2016 at the Stirling Street Art Centre with Jane Flower from Folios and Fibre. I loved it from that very moment, but in truth it took me about a year before I actually started to experiment at home. 

Since then I have played, experimented, read, researched, done a couple of workshops, joined a couple of groups on Facebook, learned, and generally had fun. It is an absorbing and addictive art! I love the serendipity of it - there is only so much control you have over the final product.  You can choose and place the leaves, you can bundle them up, you can simmer or steam them, but in the end it is the dye pot, the heat and the leaves that make the magic. You never know exactly what you are going to get. Sometimes you are disappointed, but other times you do a happy dance when it all works out as you expected or with luck better than you hoped! 

I shared with you some of my work a few weeks ago when I had a market stall at the Tree Street Art Safari

I won't pretend to be an expert, or give you the hows and how too's here. I am still learning. There are lots of great resources on line, but here is a quick look.

First select and lay out your leaves. They can be fresh or leaf fall.  There are many variables, including time of year and the water and fabric you use. I am lucky to be using mostly eucalyptus which print very well. Check that you know what the leaves are, you don't want to be using poisonous leaves. 

Make notes of what you did, what you used, and the results. This is invaluable, although you can never get a repeat of something. Each piece is truly unique and individual.

Roll it and wrap it up tight, or squish it between something flat ie tiles work well

Put leaves and water into the pot and simmer your bundles in the water or steam on a steaming rack. Use a dye-dedicated pot, not a pot you are going to cook your dinner up in. And do the cooking outside in a well ventilated area. I try and use rain water I have collected as household water might have other "additives". I have also found bore water works well if you have a bore.  Protect your hands with gloves. Some long handled tongs are very useful too.

Once they are done take them out.  The time depends on what you are cooking - I do paper for about half an hour simmering, and then leave in the pot for an hour, and silk scarves I steam for about 2 hours. People have different ideas about time needed. If I am doing cloth I leave in the pot overnight, and then leave it bundled up for at least a couple of days before unbundling. I unbundle paper the next day as you don't want it to dry out before yo do. 

Hopefully, enjoy the results!  I made some cushions on linen-cotton blend, which I then embroidered around the edges of the leaf prints.

 I recently went to a workshop to learn how to make paint from leaves. This has lead to a whole new dimension and exploration to my work! 

  Overpainted with marri bark ink and outlined with calligraphy pen. 

 I am also doing an on-line course with India Flint - who is considered one of the greats of eco-dyeing and conducts workshops all over the world. 

And I have joined a world-wide collaboration "How Far Does the Hand Reach" with Maria from Botanical Being in England who is completing her final Master Project for her Degree in Textile Design. 103 women from around the world have joined her for this project. She has sent us each two pieces of material - one silk and one cotton, which we will print with leaves from our local area and then send back to her.  These will be curated into a patchwork piece and a book showcasing botanical prints from around the world.   Of the 109 contributors we have 19 eco-sisters from across Australia. We are communicating in a private Facebook group as the project goes along.
I am so thrilled to be a part of this global project.  As Maria says:
 "Sisters we are creating something completely new and unique with a hundred and three global sisters!"

 I also belong to a couple a Facebook sharing pages where I find lots of help and inspiration, although sometimes it can be a little confusing as different methods work for different people.

Eco-dyeing with Friends
Printing with Botanicals
Eco-printing, dyeing and painting on paper

There are lots of other groups.  You might also like to check out Gumnut Magic.

I am lucky to have a little bush block near where I live where I can go and gather leaf fall for my projects and some private land where I have access to a range of eucalypts. 

Or just wander along the bush-land path and let the the eucalypt dreams fall where they may...

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week. 

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Hello there! I love reading your comments. If you scroll down to the bottom you can comment too! I would love to hear from you.


  1. Jill, I love the watercolor feeling of this printing. I just love your work. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week. Sylvia D.

  2. Such an interesting new concept to try. I love how the leaves left their imprint.

  3. How amazing! I had no idea that this is how you got the leaves printed onto your fabric! WOW! I better not get into something else right now but I am loving this and your beautiful results! I'm going back to look again! Hugs!

  4. Jill - I am intrigued by the "you never know what you'll get" aspect of this. It's like Christmas or your birthday every time you unwrap one …. I appreciated the close-up of some of the pieces - especially when you pointed out that you embroidered some of them. It adds a terrific depth to the piece. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your creativity with Mosaic Monday. I am sure we are all interested in the outcome of the world-wide project!

    1. sometimes the "you never know what you'll get" aspects is highly frustrating! OR you can do a happy dance!

  5. The leaves made beautiful prints. When I was in college I took a marine biology class. We went to the beach and collected samples. Back in class we pressed them and they became beautiful natural art. - Margy

  6. Fascinating and beautiful!

  7. I love your work Jill. This must be such an absorbing and rewarding thing to do. Your designs are absolutely gorgeous too.

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    2. Thank you so much Jo. Ha! I think it is taking over my life!

  8. I love the effect the eco-dye makes on the pieces you have shown. You have given some great ideas to start trying it, but I am not clear "which dye" you use?? I would first like to try it on fabric, maybe cotton? Many thanks for showing some of the methods for All Seasons! Have a lovely week:)

    1. no dye - just colour from the actual leaves Jesh. Better to start with silk, as cotton needs a few extra things done with it before it will accept the colour.

  9. Fascinating and so creative! Unique too!

    Happy Days to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  10. Such beautiful and creative art. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Oh my, that's beautiful. I can imagine how it wuld also be addictive! #teamlovinlife

  12. I've said it before and no doubt with your enthusiasm for learning new things, I will say it again, what amazing things you do with your life and what lovely creations you make.

    1. thank you Jackie! I'm not brave like you though moving to another country!


I hope you have enjoyed your visit to my blog. Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. I read and very much appreciate every comment and love hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return.