In a world saturated with mass-produced goods, the desire for unique and sustainable products is on the rise. One artisanal technique that has gained popularity for its eco-friendly and individualistic approach is bundle dyeing. This age-old method involves printing fabrics with real flowers and leaves, creating stunning, one-of-a-kind patterns. In this blog post, we delve into the captivating world of bundle dyeing, exploring the process and unveiling the outcome of cruelty-free peace silk dyed with natural flowers and leaves.
The Canvas: Natural Fabrics like Peace Silk, Organic Cotton or Ramie
At the heart of this artistic endeavour lies the canvas, which can be any natural fabric ranging from Peace Silk to linen, organic cotton, hemp or ramie. Having experimented with bundle-dyeing on a variety of different fabrics, the silk fabrics yielded the most favourable results. The silk used is manufactured by Cocccon, an advocate for cruelty-free silk production. Their commitment to ethical practices ensures that the silk worms are not harmed during the silk extraction process. More information about the difference between conventional silk and peace silk production can also be found in our blog post.
Silks Used: Mulberry, Tussar and Muga Silk
Mulberry silk is derived from the Bombyx mori silkworm. Known for its smooth texture and natural sheen, mulberry silk is the most widely produced silk variety globally, making it a popular choice for luxurious fabrics.
Hailing from the Assam region of India, muga silk is known for its natural cream hue and unparalleled sheen. It is not only revered for its luxurious appearance but also for its durability, and is one of the rarest silks in the world due to the delicate nature of the silkworms, which are highly sensitive to even minimal pollution levels.
Tussar silk, also known as "wild silk", is valued for its rich texture and natural gold colour. It is produced by wild silk-producing caterpillars rather than domesticated silkworms, giving it a unique and rustic charm.
The Technique: Bundle Dyeing with Real Flowers and Leaves
Bundle dyeing is an ancient method that transforms plain fabrics into works of art. The process involves tightly wrapping real flowers or colourful autumn leaves into the fabric, forming bundles that are then steamed for several hours. This allows the vibrant pigments from the botanicals to transfer onto the fabric, creating intricate and unpredictable patterns.
- Selection of flowers and leaves: The first step in bundle dyeing is the careful selection of flowers and leaves, each contributing its unique colour and texture to the final design. Common choices include marigolds, eucalyptus leaves or rose petals. But from experience, many of the typical autumn leaves commonly found in parks across Europe also yield impressive prints.
- Preparing the fabric: Prior to dyeing, the fabric is being soaked in a solution of alum salt and water. This step, using alum as a mordant, enhances color absorption and longevity during the dyeing process.
- Arranging the bundle: Once the botanicals are selected, they are arranged in a visually appealing manner on the fabric. The careful placement of each element contributes to the final design, and the tight wrapping ensures a secure bond between the plant material and the fabric. To achieve more defined prints without bleeding through multiple fabric layers, position a sheet of plastic (e.g. from a sturdy bin bag) on the fabric before rolling it up.
- Steam bath: The bundles are then subjected to a steam bath for several hours. This heat-activated process causes the natural dyes from the flowers and leaves to permeate the fabric, resulting in a fusion of colour and texture.
- Unveiling the art: After the steaming process is complete, the bundles are unwrapped to reveal the masterpiece within. The real magic of bundle dyeing lies in the unpredictability of the results since each print is a unique creation.
- Fixing the colour: To fix the colour into the fabric, the dyed material gets soaked in a vinegar solution. Vinegar acts as a fixative, helping set the dye and enhance colorfastness.
The Outcome: Unique Thermal Cushions and Silk Scrunchies
The bundle-dyed silk is perfect for decorative and practical items such as our cherry stone pillows, which can be used as heat pad or cold compress depending on the need. Due to the delicacy of the silk fabric, another layer of 100% nettle fabric has been added underneath for extra thickness and durability. A variety of unique cherry stone pillows made from Tussar silk with autumn leaves print or Muga silk with flower print can be found in our online shop.
Beyond thermal cushions, the bundle-dyed mulberry silk is also ideal for scrunchie hairbands. Crafted from a soft and shiny 100% mulberry peace silk satin, these scrunchies offer a gentle alternative to conventional rubber hairbands and minimise hair breakage. Our range of uniquely printed mulberry silk scrunchies can be found here.