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Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles Hardcover – September 14, 2010

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  • Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles
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Editorial Reviews

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*Starred Review* One of the most elegantly designed crafts books to debut this year, with a sophisticated layout and color photographs that capture well the ecological sensitivities of the artist. Though the art of dyeing has long been associated with natural materials, South Australian first-time author (and creator of hand-made “slow” fashion) Flint maximizes the use of renewable resources while minimizing most harmful footprints. On occasion, she goes to extremes, justifying, for instance, the use of wood to heat boiling-dye waters. Yet there’s much valuable information on every page, in every illustration, throughout each chapter; the author’s very careful orientation to the subject, beginning with collecting plants and finishing with special effects and fabric care and feeding, educates and energizes. Notes about history and practical applications (say, the production of indigo and the creation of natural blues through woad plants) are balanced with charts of traditional dye materials and specific details about processing, including plant oddities such as eucalyptus and St. John’s wort, different effects froma range of techniques (for instance, hapa-zome, or beating color into cloth, as well as the familiar resist )and mordants (the stuff that fixes or makes color permanent). Urban apartment dwellers might be a bit challenged by the philosophy and processes; and a few materials indigenous to Australia are unavailable to those on other continents. Nonetheless, an excellent source. --Barbara Jacobs


"If you've ever worried about the effect dyeing fabric has on the earth, Eco Colour by India Flint will teach you how to use botanical dyes to create beautiful textiles." -

"A beautifully presented book...if you are interested in botanical dyes, this is a definite must read." - Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot

"Slow dyes, like slow foods, require time and effort, but can generate extraordinary results. This book follows that same philosophy. If you take the time to delve deeply and absorb the wealth of information offered, you will find instruction and inspiration in abundance." - Surface Design Journal

"This book is a significant and inspirational addition to the literature on natural dyeing and one which must be read by anyone interested in the topic." - Pam Borchardt, member of the Natural Dye Group, Plant Craft Cottage


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Interweave (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596683309
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596683303
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 9.2 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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72 of 75 people found the following review helpful By S. Ahern on March 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I noticed others' complaints that this book lacked "recipes," and assumed they wanted very exact procedures with exact ingredients and amounts.

Usually satisfied with more abstract instruction, I went ahead and ordered it -- expecting still to find outlines of generic procedures, some suggested effective combinations of mordants and plant materials, and a bit of orientation for those of us whose prior dying experience has been limited to commercial synthetic dyes on the stovetop.

Be warned: What little this book offers in the way of instruction is buried in long, wool-gathering reflections and chatty anecdotes. If you can discern a complete process, you will have extracted it by flipping around scanning for hints, in rambling text nearly free of useful rubrics other than chapter headings. It may please you to know, from an amusing sidebar, that the ancient Scots considered little boys' urine ideal for dying with one particular material (woad). But I, for one, would like to know for any of the mordants: how much, for how long, in approximately what dilution, for what fiber types, and when in the process?

No-one is born knowing this stuff; we buy books in hopes of learning it. India's work is inspiring to look at and her beautiful book would grace an artsy coffee table, but her prose misses the tutorial mark pretty badly.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By C. Reed on October 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has made me take a second look at botanical dyes. This is not a recipe book. Ms. Flint opens up your eyes to all of the dye stuffs in your neighborhood. Like the slow food movement, she advises getting dyestuff close to home. She shares basic principals for getting the color out of common plants. She describes ways to fix color to silk, wool and cellulose fabrics and spinning fibers. She cuts out the nasty metallic salts as mordants by adding time and not always using heat. Her plants and dyes need to cure or age with the cloth. What that means is that a few minutes are spent applying the color and then you set the cloth aside for days or even months before you finish the process. This could work quite well in my busy life. Her philosophy is captured in one of her tips about hapazome, beating plants on cloth to color them. This technique is not as colorfast as the other techniques. But she tells us to embrace this. Decorate a garment in the spring with those flowers and leaves. As the design fades, add to it with summer blossoms and refresh the fabric again in the fall for an ever-changing fabric.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By M. Fregia on June 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has a wealth of gorgeous photography and tons of information on coloring with botanicals. If I stopped there, it would get 5 stars.

The main drawback is that the book's organization is awkward, requiring much study and flipping around to figure out how best to use the botanicals at your disposal. To be fair, much of the information is complicated, making it hard to organize; and there is a good index to help you find that stray sentence you need. If you are willing to plow through and experiment, Eco Colour is a great foundation and inspiration. There are actually a couple "recipes" for quick and easy eco-prints, but patience is still required (the author advises waiting a week to open that lovely bundle of now-rosy silk I tinted with red onion skins!) When you try the flower pounding, please do take the author's advice to make a trial, even if you have limited plant material to work with! :-)

One thing the reader should not miss is that the author admitted drawing during chemistry class! She mentions early in the book the reliable color results that can be obtained using certain chemicals, without the specific caution that these are quite toxic, cautions she does, however, repeat concerning plants that are poisonous, etc. (Please be sure to look up an MSDS if you are tempted to order any chrome salts, etc.)

One of the most helpful things to me was the extensive information on the friendlier mordants, which ones are useful on which types of fiber, and how various ones may affect the final colors you will achieve. We benefit also from little tricks she has learned, such as freezing certain flowers or berries to extract the most color. (Spent blossoms are in the freezer now and will be my next project.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book two years ago thinking I would find directions on Eco dying. I believe the book is used as bait to take the authors workshop. There is no defined instruction or cookbook recipes, and only vague descriptions with a lot of the authors Eco-spiritual philosophy scattered throughout.
I ended up taking India Flints week long workshop, which she promotes and teaches all over the World, after attempting, with some good results, a DIY approach for quite some time.
Let me tell you, if this book wets your appetite and you want a hands on experience with Ms. may be in for an expensive retreat considering lodging, meals, travel expenses, etc... She stretches the week out as best she can with hours spent on gathering local windfall, time chatting up her Eco spiritual approach, a half day was spent learning to stitch personal initials into fabric while she recited her poetry in the background, and then... she barely reveals the dynamics of the process at hand, her secrets of the technique are not revealed only basics are covered. At the end of the five days I was exhausted from straining to hear her, because after numerous request from different students to speak up, she quite literately refused! Also, the results of the class were less than striking and quite dull in appearance...nothing as vibrant and defined as the work she has accomplished and published in her books and on her media sites.
In my opinion India Flint is a businesswoman first, and she wants to milk her expertise for as long as she can before her competition spreads the nuts and bolts of this alluring and beautiful surface design technique. Buy the book if you want to get the gist of Eco printing. But if you are a serious fiber artist and textile designer Irit Dulman is the Eco dyer to follow!
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