Ecoprinting with Laura Dell'Erba - Fabrics of Animal Origin

Ecoprinting -  Laura Dell'Erba's Experimentation

Today's post is about ecoprinting. That is, a completely natural, zero-impact technique. With ecoprinting, we'll learn that flowers are not only beautiful but also useful and the same goes for leaves, some rocks and even bones. It is a wonderful, ethical way of making your clothes unique. Those who become interested in this technique, invariably fall in love with it because it is very stimulating. In fact, the interesting part is not only the dyeing process in itself, but also collecting plants and flowers, selecting them, and the idea that you are creating with a process which does not damage the environment. Ecoprinting is a journey which puts us in touch with respect for Nature and therefore for ourselves.

Who could be a better guide for this new journey than the expert Laura Dell'Erba? Laura has already collaborated with us in previous occasions: here is our interview with her. Once again, she enthusiastically accepted our invitation to experiment with different fabrics, and to compare the results.

Let’s start with ecoprinting on fabrics of animal origin - specifically, Etamine and Gauze, both pure wool. Laura Dell'Erba has also experimented with ecoprinting on silk chiffon.

If you wish to find out more about how to use ecoprinting on blended fabrics mixing vegetable and animal fibers, click here.

Natural Dye Extract 75 g - Dyer´s Broom
Dyer´s Broom - 75 g
1 pc. € 68,83
145 cm wide Wool Etamine - Raw Colors
Raw White
1 m € 30,97
2 m € 60,71
5 m € 148,67
165 cm wide Wool Gauze - Raw Colors
Raw White
1 m € 31,99
2 m € 62,69
5 m € 153,54

Ecoprinting - let’s get started

Now I’ll leave you to Laura’s words and pictures, which will guide you through ecoprinting on pure wool gauze and etamine.

The first passage for ecoprinting is to thoroughly wash the fabric. Keep in mind that these types of fabrics do not need a mordanting bath.

Ecoprinting on wool gauze

Lay the wool gauze on a work surface, and spray it with a thin, even layer of white vinegar.

Take whatever leaves you wish to use for your project and scatter them on one half of the fabric. To achieve a similar result to mine, you’ll need eucalyptus, geranium, prunus leaves, as well as some onion skin, bixa orellana seeds or annatto.

Once you have laid out the leaves, fold the other half of the gauze over them. Then fold once again into a thin strip, trying not to move the leaves around as you do it.

Then, get an iron rod and roll a cotton cloth around it. This is an extremely important step so that the fabric does not come apart in the future, because fibers tend to become damaged if they rub against the iron directly.

Place the iron rod on the edge of the wool gauze, then slowly and accurately roll the fabric. Keep it tight so as not to create any creases.

Once the fabric is completely rolled around the rod, you will need to fasten both sides with rubber bands. This will make it easier for you to tie the whole roll with some doubled kitchen twine.

Now, start preparing a mixture of water and Cutch Tree extract (4 grams will be enough). Start mixing everything in cold water, using a pot with a capacity of at least 25 liters. Before you turn the heat on, put the wool gauze roll into the water and let it boil for at least 45 minutes.

These are the results I got with ecoprinting on wool gauze.

Ecoprinting on pure wool etamine

Etamine, just like pure wool gauze, needs to be laid out flat on a suitable work surface and sprinkled with vinegar. Fold the fabric in half, and then fold a quarter underneath and a quarter on top. You’ll get an accordion fold.

When the pure wool etamine has taken this shape, open the accordion in the middle. Scatter the leaves in the quarter that’s closer to you. For this tutorial, I used the same leaves I used for the wool gauze, to which I added some rose leaves.

Fold the fabric once again like you did at the beginning, and scatter some leaves on this part of the fabric too. Then, take an iron rod and roll a piece of cotton cloth around it. Place the rod on the edge of the etamine and carefully roll it up, being careful not to create any creases.

Place some rubber bands on the two sides of the roll, then tie it with a doubled kitchen twine.

Once this is done, you need to prepare a mixture of water and cutch tree extract (approximately 4 grams). Make sure you do this when the water is cold, using a pot with a capacity of at least 25 liters. Put the roll of pure wool etamine into the cold water, and once it starts boiling, let it simmer for at least 45 minutes.

In the pictures below you can see the unfolded etamine roll, as well as the final results I got with this ecoprinting technique.