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Natural Dyeing with Eucalyptus Bark

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Natural Dyeing with Eucalyptus Bark
Natural Dyes with Eucalyptus Bark

What have I been doing this past month? Well, I am working on my upcycled installation, "Nature in Stitches", exploring the local flora and how the public can connect with nature. I have slightly less than a month because the installation will be featured at the Singapore Eco Film Festival from 1 - 3 September.  It's slowly getting there.
I visited Hock Siong to purchase the old hotel bed sheets - oh my goodness, I didn't realise a king sized bed sheet would be so heavy to carry home. I wish I had bought my suitcase along with me.
I have been collecting mango leaves and eucalyptus bark to dye the bed sheets.
Last week the mango leaves gave lovely hues of brown, but I was looking for a green colour and I was fortunate to find out that to retain the colour the leaves should not be boiled for too long.

Preparing Eucalyptus Bark

I collected a lot of bark from the park but I didn't want to be taking red ants back home so I made sure to shake them off! Getting bitten by a red ant is awfully painful so be careful what you encounter in the park. 
One of the most important things about the preparation is cutting the bark into tiny pieces and then steeping it over night in hot water. I found it difficult cutting up the bark with a pair scissors, but I got there. I'll probably need to find myself a proper tool to do the cutting.


Boiling the Bark

The colour (tannin) that came out of the bark just through steeping looked almost like a strong pu'er tea. At this stage, I must emphasise that it is very, no extremely important to always label your experiments and place them somewhere so no one will unknowingly consume it.  In fact, after labelling them, HIDE them.  We are talking about health and safety here, and we would not want any accidents to happen.
Once the bark has been soaked, it is now time to transfer the bark and the water into your dyeing pot (not cooking pot!). I topped up the water to make sure everything was submerged and simmered the concoction for 1 hour. 
Natural Dyeing with Eucalyptus Bark

Dyeing the Fabric

As soon as that was done, I took out the bark and popped in my fabric. At this point, it seems I have to consider getting a bigger pot. The second time I did this with a larger piece of cotton (40cm x 40cm) the fabric could not move and I ended up with streaks. I think I need a big vat!
Don't you think the eucalyptus bark gives a lovelier brown than the mango leaves? 
Natural Dyeing with Eucalyptus Bark


Natural Dyeing with Eucalyptus Bark

On this note, I have been looking at our National Parks website and found that there is a variety of eucalyptus trees in Singapore. I am still trying to find out what species of eucalyptus I have in my local park. If you have any idea, please let me know!

Eucalyptus tree, Singapore

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Abdelghafour

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  1. Well the Eucalyptus bark is way better than the mango leaves but then you would expect that because of the tannins. Do you use a mordant such as alum which is a naturally occurring product and it 'may' increase your colour absorbment, might be worth a try 🤷‍♀️. I love reading your blogs by the way. I'm a spinner dyer and weaver so I'm always looking for something interesting. Hugs Keith x

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