References for contact dye (“eco”) printing, natural dyeing and native plant gardening, including dye plant use as shared by First Nations (especially Canadian aboriginal peoples)
Along with my own experiments, I am learning about natural dyeing by continually researching the topic; thus, my list of works consulted will be under constant revision. Check back for updates!
I have a special interest in using plants native to North America, particularly Eastern Canada, for eco printing and eco dyeing; I include dye plants known to First Nations in Canada and elsewhere. Only a few of the dye authors here (principally Dr. Karen Diadick Casselman) refer to processes that could be construed as contact printing on textiles and paper with dyes. Most authors deal with immersion dyeing of lengths of cloth or hanks of wool. However, knowledge about plants, mordants and natural dyes form the core of knowledge about the process of contact (or “eco” ) printing with plant dyes. A careful study of these references will suggest the colours to expect from a given plant at a certain season and plant parts that are dye-rich. Effective colour assistants or mordants are key topics to research, too.
Not every dyer or printmaker will obtain the same results because local conditions vary widely. But your compass will be the dye knowledge applied with a spirit of adventure.
The dye knowledge will allow you as a contact dye printmaker to juggle variables of substrate, processing method, water or dye temperature, plant maturity, plant part, processing time, choice of dye assistant, etc. One of the most interesting aspects of eco or dye printing is that these printing process can often reveal dye colours that do not show up in classical immersion dye practices. Art and science in mysterious association!
Canadian scholar Dr. Karen Diadick Casselman’s 2004 article in the “Clothing and Textiles Research Journal” (see the full ref. below) presents a seminal synthesis of known practice in contact printing with plant pigments. The pronounced focus of her article is her desire to encourage the home dyer to learn or recover dye traditions in order to apply them in new ways through experiments and to bring the printed goods and dye ways to the modern market, as required by the artisan.
Many artists choose to use the term “eco printing” to refer to the methods Dr. Casselman discusses in relation to the transfer of plant dyes onto textile or paper by processes such as steaming, simmering or composting. This is the term India Flint (see refs.) applies to a process she observed in nature and adapted, then popularized, in her blog, book and training sessions . (The term is also used to refer to certain kinds of ecology-friendly commercial printing on papers) British dyer Jenny Dean, the second of my most trusted natural dye references, briefly mentions in her book ” Wild Colour” a process something like contact dye printing. She describes the “delightful (print/colour) effects” that can be obtained if one ties various plants into a length of cloth and cooks it up in an immersion water or dye bath.
I have obtained much of my contact (or “eco”) printing information from exchange with generous artists who blog and from my own pleasurable experiments with native and local plants (For a list of artists, see my blogroll. For a list of plants I have tried, see my dye plant page) But my basic practice continues to depend on dye authorities who report the age-old traditions of natural dyeing which I feel is foundational to eco printing knowledge. This expertise includes contributions from First Nations and from pioneer sources. Even if devoted to traditional knowledge, the information in of the books etc. listed below can be adapted to printmaking. Besides natural dye knowledge, information about native plants and their pollinators as well as beneficial insects is included in my understanding of the ‘eco’ of eco prints and dyes.
LIST OF REFERENCES
This is a ‘bare-bones’ list of titles and authors of books and articles
A quick look at one shelf in my natural dye library. I am a reader and book collector so even before trying out natural dyeing, I had read a lot about it. Thus, I am assembling a collection (or ‘hoard’ ?) of books as well as plants. Given my life-long passion for gardening and textile arts, I guess the ‘side excursion’ into plant dyes that has become another major obsession was inevitable!
Dye Plants of Ontario – Nancy J. McGuffin, Ed. Burr House Spinners and Weavers Guild
Natural Dyes and Home Dyeing – Rita Adrosko
North American Dye Plants – Anne Bliss
A Dyer’s Garden – Rita Buchanan
Harvesting Colour – Rebecca Burgess
Dye Plants and Dyeing – John and Margaret Cannon
Natural Dyes: Sources, Tradition, Technology and Science – Dominique Cardon
Lichen Dyes: The New Source Book – Karen Diadick Casselman
Craft of The Dyer: Colour From Plants and Lichens – Karen Leigh Casselman
In The Bag: Contact Natural Dyes. Sara J. Kadolph and Karen Diadick Casselman
Clothing and Textiles Research Journal 2004 22:15.DOI 10:1177/0087302X0402200103 (online)
Alien Invaders in Canada’s Waters, Wetlands and Forests – Renata Claudi, Patrick Nantel and Elizabeth Muckle-Jeffs (NOTE: Some invasive plants can be foraged to make paper as well as dyes)
The Craft of Natural Dyeing – Jenny Dean
Colour From Nature: A Dyer’s Handbook – Jenny Dean
A Heritage of Colour – Jenny Dean
Wild Colour – Jenny Dean
How Indians Use Plants for Food, Medicine and Crafts – Frances Densmore
The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes – Sasha Duerr
Checklist of Vascular Plants of the Ottawa-Hull Region, Canada. Liste des plantes vasculaires de la region d’Ottawa – Hull, Canada – John M. Gillet and David J. White.
Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants – Heather Holm
Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles – India Flint
Natural Dyeing On All Kinds of Natural Fibres- Judy Hardman and Sally Pinhey
100 Easy-To-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens – Lorraine Johnson
The Complete Book of Natural Dyeing – Eva Lambert and Tracy Kendall
Bioplanning the North Temperate Garden – Diana Beresford Kroeger. Reprinted as “A Garden Life”
Native plants of the northeast : a guide for gardening & conservation /
Donald J. Leopold.
Aboriginal Plant Use In Canada’s Northwest Boreal Forest – Robin J, Marles, Christina Clavelle, Leslie Monteleone, Natalie Tays, Donna Burns.
A Garden to Dye For: How to Use Plants from the Garden to Create Natural Colors for Fabrics and Fibers – Chris Mclaughlin
Dyes from Lichens & Plants: A Canadian Dyer’s Guide – Judy Waldner McGrath
The Ashford Book of Dyeing – Ann Milner
Native Americcan Ethnobotany – Daniel E. Moerman.
Dyes From American Native Plants: A Practical Guide – Lynne Richards and Ronald J. Tyrl
Roses Love Garlic: Companion Planting and Other Secrets of Flowers – Louise Riotte
Earthen Pigments: Handgathering and Using Natural Colours in Art – Sandy Webster