Last year I tried to explore solar dyeing, with limited success. I really liked the results however they were not at all what I expected. This year I want to go back and explore the use of solar dyeing further and be able to achieve prints rather than a consistent colour across fabric. These photos are from my 2010 collection entitled "Under the Gum Trees". The collection features fabrics that have been solar dyed for up to 9 weeks with eucalyptus.
For those of you unfamiliar with solar dyeing I will do my best to explain it. Essentially it involves using the heat of the sun to transfer dye from natural materials (in this case eucalyptus) from the material to cloth.
This means you don't have to spend endless hours and energy boiling material and can use the sun to do all your hard work. However you need time and patience. Solar dying takes many weeks and is a slow process.
I used silk fabric, bundled it with gum leaves (of many varieties, gathered from fallen branches), and put the fabric in large glass jars with a small amount of water. The jars then must be sealed to prevent air from allowing bacteria to grow. These jars are then left for at least 6 weeks in the sun.
See my results for yourself!! I will upload more of my work from last year showing the process soon.
Photographer: Jessica Maybus