lilium et. al. eco-dyeing

I have tried something different again.

Just as they were wilting, I cut up the yellow arum lilies from Salamanca
David gave me as I worked my way through a hefty commission.

I boiled up some plants from the garden, mostly eucalyptus because I love the aroma.

I tore strips of Hahnnemuhl paper and rolled a lily in each one, cutting it open to expose the stamen.

I rolled ten of these and place them in the boiling dye-pot.

I added 1/2 a teaspoon (only) of iron sulphate purchased from the local garden centre,
as my mordant.

It went this lovely rich brown/black colour! I always throw in some excess card & paper
for bookmarks and postcards.

Turn everything off and leave to do it's own thing!  Poke and prod on occasion only to be nosy!


Gently, one by one I tonged them out into the laundry tub.

Wear rubber gloves at all times!  Never handle any of this stuff without them!

Looking gorgeous and these are only the offcuts!

The bands come off!

I gently run water and open one of the rolls to see my little surprises ...

When dry, I am amazed yet again at these lovely subtle and sublime treasures
to use as ground in my work.



kate adderley said…
hi there gemma, these pieces are just stunning,love the yellow and blue tones, also love what you taught in the queensland workshop, lm going to do a workshop with marg schmit from the CVS this weekend, so excited
Gemma Black said…
Oh terrific Kate, have a great time with Marg.

And thank you for your kind words the results are stunning ... happy (controlled) accidents.

x g
ersimarina said…
Gorgeous dyes. And those deep browns are so beautiful too!
Lisa said…
Just beautiful, Gemma. I'm dy(e)ing to give it a go. Must read India's book!
Gemma Black said…
Ersi Marina, thank you! Thank you also for sharing on your blog. I have used a tiniest bit of iron sulphate which has given me the deep colours and pull out the colour from the flower itself. x g
Gemma Black said…
Thank you Lisa for your kind words.

My inspiration comes from many sources not least of all is Kirsten Ingemar's work. I haven't explored India's experiments yet as I tend to travel my own path but yes, I admire her as a person and her philosophies are really worth following. Love her work.
susan bowers said…
These are simply gorgeous Gemma. I too love the deep dark colours .... full of possibilities and potential. The lily marks work in beautifully.
Gemma Black said…
Thank you Susie, I enjoy working with these plants and paper! One never quite knows what surprises are in store. There are more to come but quite different this time. Watch this space :-)
Hi Gemma, Would you consider writing on a piece and what with?
Hello Gemma, Would you consider writing on a piece and what with? Calligraphy Southscribes - Cathy
Gemma Black said…
Hello Cathy,

I have written on lots of them already. I have a number of them on my website and also an exhibition on at present called Ekeltikos here in Kingston Beach Hobart. A little to far for you to go but if you go to and go to the images page the first slide presentation is all my eco-dying and my graphite works.

You will also see some here on my blog for back in 2013, if you could be bothered to scroll and select that far back. :-)

I have considered lots of tools and trials some BUT for me, graphite - varying grades depending on the surface texture - is the answer. Enjoy!

x g
Thank you for going through the process of eco dyeing paper, I was wondering how the magic happened. Let me give it a try.
Gemma Black said…
Any questions Maya, just ask. x g

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