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Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles Hardcover – September 14, 2010
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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." - Cutoutandkeep.net
"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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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.
First, the print quality and the graphics - the visual appeal of the book - is stunning.
However, as to content, it is all over the ballpark and very incohesive. Do not expect ANYthing that might remotely be considered to be "instruction".
The author is not a very good writer. She uses a ton of verbiage and doesn't impart a lot of information with it. There are some nuggets buried between the lines, but they're not presented in any kind of organized way. The "eco-printing" that Ms. Flint is known for is barely covered at all. I'm not a fabric dyer and am new to eco-printing. She does say some of things one can experiment with, but doesn't give any guidance as to when and on what fibers to apply these techniques. e.g. "Proteins can be mordants. Here are some protein sources." And then a historical disquisition of each one. Very vague and nebulous.
I'm good at being self-taught, but I'm not sure I really took away much from this book that will be helpful. Fortunately I'd had a workshop so I'm able to proceed on my own without the book. But I really had hoped it would be more of an instructional supplement and less of a coffee table book. It's good for Ms. Flint's self promotional resumé though.
India Flint's techniques are easy and unique.The book is replete with the information you need about a variety of plants and mordants. All of the information that you need to get started are right there in the pages of the. Since she is Australian the the plants described are indigenous to that area - but many are easy to find in North America as well. The techniques described will work with any plant matter and the magic is in the trying and experimenting.
I'm not sure that I could say that this is "the only book you'll ever need" for natural dyeing - but is the only book you need for her "bundling" technique. I'm planning to try some of the techniques(adjusted a bit perhaps) on heavy watercolor paper. This book is an excellent addition to the library for any natural dye fan - or for any textile surface designer or admirer. I'm happy that I splurged and bought it !