Winter Dyeplants; Eucalyptus

Another dye plant perfect for winter experiments is Eucalyptus. I have a few different trees growing near me. I have no idea which these are, just know they are different looking at the leaves. There are over 35 varieties of eucalyptus in England alone and over a thousand in the world so I can barely even touch the surface of their dye possibility. The colours can range from yellow, brown to orange and red.

First experiments I conducted are with a small plant I have growing in my garden. I carried it home from Columbia Road flower market two years ago. In that time its doubled in height. I picked a handful of leaves for my dyepot as I don’t want to disturb the tree too much as it’s still young

Second tree I found growing near my daughters school and one drop off morning, I happened up some fallen branches. I am sure I get odd looks from other parents when I stopped to collect these on the way to class.

There is another tree nearby the riverside hanging on to the road from a church yarn. The winter storms have been good for a dyer as there too there were plenty of fallen leaves on the ground. These last two trees both have long thin leaves, but I still did separate dye baths.

I am concentrating on dyeing with the leaves although you can dye with the bark also. Eucalyptus needs a long extraction so I simmered all baths for two hours and then left these to sit for two days. I left the leaves in while I added the fibres to improve the colour. I simmered the fibres slowly for two hours and left to cool in the bath until the next day.

All samples were unmordanted and I used various fibres.

Eucalyptus tree growing in my garden
Wool/cashmere and silk dyed with leaves from the tree in my garden

L-R: Linen, Cotton, Silk, 2 x Wool/Cashmere and Shetland wool all dyed with Eucalyptus leaves from the tree pictured above

The samples above are very pink. The two wool swatches on the right have different dye lengths as I left the one lower on in the dye bath for a week. The colours are strong orange and I hope to find more of these leaves to continue experimenting.

L-R: Wool/Nylon, Linen, Silk + Alum mordanted Silk

In the last bath, the leaves had had a chance to dry out a little before I picked them. I don’t know if this had an effect on the colour, which was all around light brown.

Different Eucalyptus dye baths

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