Bundle-Dyeing with Foraged Plants

Notes on Natural Dyeing

Our skin is our largest organ, directly absorbing anything it comes in contact with. By clothing ourselves in natural fabrics dyed with medicinal herbs, flowers, and spices, we can reap the wellness benefits of these plants.

This process of imbuing fabrics with plant medicine started within the ancient Indian system of Vedic healthcare, or Ayurveda, some 5,000 years ago. Ayurvastra (“Healthy Fabrics”) is a branch of Ayurveda, which uses dyed cloth as a medium for Ayurvedic treatment (read more at ayurvastra.in).

Turmeric, for example, will dye fabric yellow-gold, but also relieves symptoms of indigestion and inflammation. Further, the color yellow is considered to be energizing and uplifting.

Several studies have shown that patients suffering from ailments like eczema, psoriasis, arthritis and rheumatism experienced relief of their symptoms when using clothing, linens, rugs, and wall-hangings dyed with medicinal plants (read more about this research in The Journal of the American Botanical Council, Ayurvastra: Dyeing Fabric with Medicinal Ayurvedic Plants).

Fabrics dyed using natural plant materials are not only better for the environment because they are biodegradable, renewable, and non-toxic and better for bodies because they lack chemicals and carcinogens — they also transfer medicinal and spiritual properties from the plants through our tissues.

My first attempt at bundle dyeing –

I was first inclined to try bundle dyeing after attending a Botanical Color Feedback Friday with Alison Kelly of Flora Obscura. She talked at length about her processes and shared insightful tips for successful printing.

Another round –