Eucalyptus Natural Dye Experiment

Recently I found some dried eucalyptus in the grocery store and decided use it as a dye. I have always wanted to use eucalyptus but unfortunately they are not common plants here. I didn’t know what to expect because there was no information about what kind of eucalyptus it was. Eucalyptus is a favorite among dyers as the different species produce a wide range of beautiful colours.

So hoping for a lovely red but also excited to see what would happen, I prepared an organic cotton pillow case. In Eco Colour┬áIndia Flint recommends using a soy milk mordant, while it’s best to make your own, I used a store bought natural soy milk with few additives. The case was soaked, dried, and then rinsed.

Eucalyptus natural dye, soy mordant - Verena Erin

To prepare the eucalyptus, it was boiled for about an hour. I like to use ‘fill your own’ tea bags for fine, smaller quantities of dye materials.

Eucalyptus natural dye - Verena Erin

While the eucalyptus was boiling I did a simple running stitch to create some stripes on the pillow case.

Eucalyptus natural dye - Verena Erin

The pillow case was then boiled in the dye bath and cooled overnight. After drying and rinsing the final result was a pale beige/yellow. It was a disappointing result given all the beautiful eucalyptus dyed textiles, but it was an experiment so I knew that I might not get a very good result. I also think I could have gotten a stronger colour if I had used more since I only used about 30g of the dried leaves for the pillow.

However there was a exciting result with the wool swatch I added. The first one I added turned a lovely caramel colour, I also did an exhaust swatch which resulted in a soft yellow. Overall much better results with the protein fibres!

Eucalyptus natural dye - Verena Erin

I hope to do a lot more with eucalyptus and experiment with printing and different varieties. I also had more success with a eucalyptus eco print which you can see here.