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Natural Fabric Dyeing & Shibori Workshop on the Merri Creek

Home > Melbourne > Art | Art and Craft Centres | Fun Things To Do | Unusual Things to do | Workshops
by TheOnlyFiona (subscribe)
In real life, I do discuss food exactly like how I write in my food review articles. As always my food reviews are scored only on what I've tried and the service expected of that type of establishment.
Published November 28th 2015
Spend the day learning how to make natural dyes and Shibori
Natural fabric dyeing and Shibori workshop
Samples of inspiration supplied by our teacher, Roz Slade


Put Your Heart Into It (PYHII) Studio offers this hands on beginners' workshop into natural fabric dyeing. Whether you are new to it or have some experience, the session provides many inspiring techniques and ideas. The workshop takes place in a hideaway building in Northcote, more correctly the decking which has a fantastic view of Merri Creek. Escape the city and have fun doing something a bit different, sustainable and creative.

Merri Creek
View of Merri Creek from the top


Merri Creek
We collected many of our plants from this lovely spot


Our simply artistic goal of using natural dyes kicks off with a nature walk. Our teacher, Roz of Be Kind Textiles leads you along Merri Creek to find fauna material such as eucalyptus leaves, fennel and Queen Anne's lace. Don't be alarmed if like me you have difficulty telling apart different trees. Roz lends her knowledge of plants to gathering materials for everyone, and you can use the internet on your mobile phone. The pleasant bush walk sets the tone for the day, it's relaxed and all you have to worry about is walking into the 'native' beer bottle trees at the creek.

Natural fabric dyeing and Shibori workshop
Plants gathered from our bush walk


The outdoors aspect doesn't end with the walk. The whole workshop basically takes place on the studio's decking area. There Roz has already set up some vats (pots) for boiling our plants. What makes this workshop accessible is how simple the process can be, natural fabric dyeing doesn't have to be difficult. In preparing dyes, Roz explains and shows how you mostly just boil your materials to create the dyes.

Many different colours can be made from natural materials. Interestingly the colour of a material might not match the dye that it produces. For example, onion skins produce yellow and not orange. The intensity of the colour can be changed by having your material in the vat for longer. If you can pour boiling water onto it and it leaks out a colour, then you are likely to make a dye out of it. Roz is open to suggestions on what plants we can use as an experiment to see if it produces a dye.

Natural fabric dyeing and Shibori workshop
You get this sample palette of the dyes that are made on the day


While the natural dyes are brewing, you will learn Shibori resistance dyeing techniques using indigo dye. Japanese Shibori dyeing has been used in items such as kimonos. It's an umbrella term for a few techniques that give you unique results. The workshop features kumo (tie-dye), arashi (thread wrapped) and itajime (object clipping) techniques. Roz clearly models the step by step process before giving us the calico squares.

Natural fabric dyeing and Shibori workshop
Roz modelling the arashi technique


Once you start, you'll find yourself thinking about where the dye might go and what you might create. The samples provided give a good idea of what to expect but don't let them limit you. It's all an experiment. What happens when you tie it more tightly there? What happens when you bind some more thread there? What about when you angle a shape a bit more? Accordion folding or triangle folding?

Natural fabric dyeing and Shibori workshop
Preparation for kumo


Natural fabric dyeing and Shibori workshop
Dyeing arashi style


Natural fabric dyeing and Shibori workshop
Preparation for itajime


Next stop: upcycling! Do you have a collection of boring whites in your wardrobe? Do you have two similar items that are the same colour? Would you have some last (few) season clothes that don't see the light of day anymore? Well, here's where natural dyeing can help you revamp your wardrobe in an ethical and sustainable way.

Natural fabric dyeing and Shibori workshop
My before workshop photo of my pink skirt


Make sure you bring an item that is made from a natural fibre. The dye will be much more predictable and bond to the fibre. There's also a collection of op shop clothes that are provided for you to dye and take home. I brought along a skirt that was made of polyester. I tried to create an ombré (dip dye), however as the dye has difficulty bonding to polyester it was an experiment.

The beauty of natural dyeing is that whatever technique you try, if the results aren't great you can redye it a solid colour. The skirt came out as blue with a cool blue wave pattern in the middle. Natural dyes fade over time. So I either don't wash it or hand-wash it. If it fades, I get to dye it again.

Natural fabric dyeing and Shibori workshop
My after workshop photo where my now blue skirt is rocking a cool wave pattern


PYHII co-founder, Laura Issell is on hand to assist the workshop or friendly conversation about sustainability ideas and issues. While you were toiling away with your artistic endeavours, Laura also creates a beautiful grazing table. Enjoy it on the deck, while your creations blossom. After lunch, you get to see how the dye job worked. Roz also runs a debriefing session where you are able to ask any more questions that you have asked already.

Put your heart into it
Laura showcasing her amazing grazing table decorating skills, which she teaches at another workshop and offers for events such as weddings


PYHII began as a discussion about over consumerism around Christmas. Founded by Laura and her friend, Anna D'Amelio, the studio aims to share eco-friendly and sustainable art practices while promoting a slower lifestyle. PYHII brings together community involvement, insightful art and ethical art practices, and local produce into events and workshops. The team of artists and professionals hopes to inspire all Victorians with environmentally friendly alternatives.

There's an option for PYHII to bring this workshop to you. To make a booking or enquiry please go here. For other workshops run by PYHII please visit their website. Like their Facebook page for updates.
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*TheOnlyFiona was invited as a guest
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Why? Fun workshop that makes natural dyeing accessible
When: Sunday February 21st, 2016 beginning at 11am. More dates will be added on their website.
Where: Big Bang Studios 1/177 Beavers Road Northcote VIC 3070
Cost: $245 for one person. $145 for two or more people.
Your Comment
This sounds like a really interesting workshop. The colours you can create from using ingredients you wouldn't expect is quite remarkable.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12098) 1108 days ago
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