Marg Easson

Ecodyed Textiles

Garments: wool knit tops, cool wool tunics, leggings. Accessories: woollen scarves and wraps. Dyed textiles: lengths of Australian plant dyed cool wool. Artworks: Small unmounted eco prints hand stitched on woollen textile. A3 A4 &A5

Inspiration comes from the Australian bush. I am particularly interested in arid lands and dyes from arid lands. I aim to source only South Australian dyes to represent SA landscapes. Photographs are taken in the bush to record patterns, textures, colours and shapes of landforms. Drawings and notes are also made. For me, the vision comes before technique so I have a picture in my head of what I want to achieve and then hopefully find a suitable technique.

Dye baths are made with specific plants according to the required colour. Textile may be dyed a plain colour for a tunic or textile length. Shibori is done on both cool wool and wool knit textile. Shibori can be done on textile that is then dyed one colour OR I may combine the technique with eco print. Eco print (direct printing of plant material onto textile) is done on both cool wool and wool knit textile. Hand stitching is done on small art works that have been shibori dyed or eco printed.

Dyes are derived from Australian plants. I use mostly leaves, particularly eucalypt but also acacia leaves and bark, other native tree leaves, bushes and occasional flowers for dye material. As mordants, I use tannins from bark and also metal mordants ie alum, copper and iron. Textiles: I use cool wool and wool knit textile. For shibori wrapping, I use jute, cotton, rubber bands, Quondong seeds, gum nuts.

Twice a year, I travel to the northern Flinders ranges and collect dye materials. I also collect dye materials locally. Sourcing, identifying and testing dye materials are done in the bush. Dye materials are also tested at my studio in Grange.  Dyes are mordanted and tested to ensure they withstand fading. Mordanting, dyeing, shibori and eco printing are all done at the studio in Grange. Hand stitching is often done while out and about, particularly on the train.

I am lucky to live with an environmental educator who has an extensive knowledge of Australian flora and fauna. The story of the process of finding dyes in their natural environment and making art from those dyes is fascinating. As well, the process is a wonderful collaboration with Nature. It is slow and contemplative and extremely rewarding. Ecotextile techniques are partly controllable and partly accidental. The results are never predictable so each work is unique.