first attempt at vegetable dye

Perhaps not entirely my first attempt to dye something using natural dyes, but I’m thinking dyeing poodle ears with beetroot juice doesn’t really count…

I’ve also done heaps with tea and coffee, but again, I’ve always considered those more of a stain than a dye.

This time I got it into my head to try to make my own re-usable shopping bags out of the millions of vintage plain linen sheets I’ve been collecting from mom and my aunts. Great fabric, but not great as sheets any more cause most of them were made for shorter beds than we have now.

Anyway, I had the sheets so I cut one up and made 2 shopping bags in the most simple way I could (ie no side gusset). The whole point was to make something I could carry with me easily.

I also wanted the bags to be pretty so I needed colour – using natural dyes and stamps. Hence the Junk4Joy stamps I made. Fiddly for a first attempt at linocut in years.

I wanted to brand the bags obviously. I even added a wonky recycled logo to the name.

I did a lot of reading about natural vegetable dyes online and decided to go with purple cabbage to start with as I liked the colour. Plus I’d just made some rice paper rolls and had purple cabbage on hand.

Following the instructions, I boiled the cabbage, then strained it into a bowl. I added salt as a mordant (cause I have no idea where or how to get pot ash) and got to dyeing.

I wanted an ombre look so I wet the bags and hand dipped them a few times, then let them hang in the solution overnight.

The resulting colour is very soft. Maybe I needed more cabbage and less water, who knows. Still, its quite pretty for my first attempt.

After they dried, I ironed them then got out the fabric printing ink I’d bought with the linocut supplies and stamped on the logo. Last I added a button and some elastic so the bags can be rolled up and put in a handbag.

Pretty cute I’d say.

To be honest I’m not sure I’ll bother trying to make bags to sell… I had a long conversation with myself lately and the upshot of it was that I do too much. I spread myself too thin with all the creative projects I do. I’m better off to stick to what I’m best at and that is painting. I’m an artist AND a creative person with unlimited interests, but I am better off concentrating on the work that I’m best at in order to earn some money from it.

My pet portraits on commission and my marble and rock paintings sell. It makes sense to concentrate on that.

Making bags or critters from recycled fabric or baskets from found ropes etc are all lovely and fun. So are my art from trash dog and bust sculptures. But most of those things take a lot of time and space and so far haven’t sold. The aim is to sell stuff.

I have tried selling online a lot over the years, but postage has always been an issue. I’m not saying I won’t try ebay or my esty shop again, or even Facebook, just that it seems selling something for under 10-20e with postage of over 15e seems ridiculous.

Anyway, there’s always so much to do and so little time.

z

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