Yummy, luscious compost dyed fabric!

Unless you’re a gardening afficionado, the words ‘yummy’ and ‘luscious’ don’t really appear together with the word ‘compost’ but wait till you see this fabric I just rinsed!!

A couple of years ago I bought the DVD Markmaking with Nature from Kimberly Baxter Packwood.  Kimberly is extremely knowledgeable about all things related to natural dyeing, and one of them is a technique she calls compost dyeing.  I have been intrigued and wanted to try it for a while now, but didn’t get round to it till January.  Basically, it involves laying natural dye extracts and other vegetable matter on fabric and shoving it in the compost heap for a while. 

Well, it was January, so I left out the compost heap bit, but I did the rest, wrapped it up with a load of natural dye extracts and some banana skins and rolled it up, soaked it in vinegar, nuked it in the microwave to start it off, and left it for 2 months.  How about that for self discipline?!!  Anyway, yesterday the suspense got too much. I was going to leave it for a while longer given that the weather wasn’t all that warm (it has been inside, not out so it didn’t get TOO cold).  And the results were amazing!

I did two pieces, both silk.

purple compost dyed silk

This one is a sort of silk crepe.  I put a lot of logwood on this, I think, and various other things (I was extremely disorganised and just grabbed handfuls of whatever dye extracts I have). 

close up of purple compost dyed fabric

This shows some of the markings on it.

And this one is a habotai silk scarf.  I think I used a lot of madder on this one.

reddy compost dyed fabric

This was the one which had the banana skins rolled in with it.  I had to hang it over the chair to photograph it – it was incredibly hard to photograph as the light just bounced off the sheen of the silk.

red compost dyed silk scarf

Both together:

purple and red compost dyed silk

I’m so glad these turned out well, because I also tried rinsing a thin section of some of the screenprinted fabric and ochre painted fabric that I also did with natural dyes and those were disappointing.    I don’t know whether the gum was too thick or whether I just need to leave it a lot longer, but most of the colour washed out of the tiny sample that I did.  I may just leave the ochre painted one as most of my art won’t be washed anyway.  Time will tell…

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9 Responses to Yummy, luscious compost dyed fabric!

  1. Beth Grim March 13, 2009 at 4:40 pm #

    Your fabrics turned out so nice! I’ve been hearing about this method of dyeing for awhile & am intrigued by it. I wonder about mold, or the fabric starting to decay. When you rinse it in the end, does the smell come out? One day I’ll try it!

  2. Jennifer Rose March 13, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

    those look great. what neat effects you got on the silk. and 2 months is being really disciplined!

  3. Vicki W March 13, 2009 at 11:13 pm #

    These are absolutely gorgeous!

  4. Lynsey March 17, 2009 at 11:51 am #

    I just wanted to let you know that I have featured you on Cuteable today.

    Lynsey x


  5. Helen Cowans March 17, 2009 at 1:11 pm #

    These are beautiful! I think you should do some to sell 🙂

  6. kimberly baxter packwood March 17, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    Liz those turned out GORGEOUS!!!

  7. Michele March 17, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    Lol, no, you may be the first person ever to have yummy and compost in the same sentence, but after seeing the fabric, I can see why.

  8. nadine anddanes March 17, 2009 at 10:39 pm #

    am i the only one that loves the smell of compost? really nice work, I’ll let you know how I go with mine.

  9. Deb Hardman March 18, 2009 at 2:45 am #

    They really are beautiful Liz!

    Can I ask you where you get Logwood? I’ve done quite a bit of natural dying, & could never find a source for Logwood.