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E.N.D. of the World - Japanese Maple Leaf

by Julie Roussy Newton |

E.N.D. of the World, or "Exploring Natural Dyes" of the World, is a series about experimenting with local, natural substances and creating new dye recipes!

Today I am making dye out of fallen Japanese maple leaves!

As the seasons have changed and we are almost on to winter, the dyes available for cultivation locally have become scarcer. However, tree bark, coniferous leaves, fallen leaves and the roots of plants are amply available in Vancouver during the winter. This year I am excited to try dyeing with different recipes of the aforementioned as well as experiment with dried natural dyes that can be purchased at Maiwa (logwood and cochineal have me so curious!) (Update I did go and buy these dyes from Maiwa!)
 
Back to maple leaves, recently I have been very drawn to warm tones. Oranges, purples, and pinks top my list of dyes I want to practice this November. I think it's because it's my first time in 3 years being in Vancouver for the fall and I forgot how vibrant the trees in my neighborhood become. Out of all the trees near my home, I have to say the Japanese maple trees are by far my favorite, naturally, it is their leaves I am using for my first ever attempt at a reddish maple leave dye

Today I am using the leaves of two different maple trees on my street to make two different vats of dye.

1. Collecting leaves! Since this is so much less time consuming than picking berries or segmenting flowers, we are off to a good start.

2. Boil those leaves down! Get them in a big pot filled with tap water and boil them on medium/high for 1.5 - 2 hours.

3. While your dye is boiling down prep the fabric you are going to use with your chosen mordant. I used aluminum acetate for a mordant this time. I have started to let the fabric I mordant sit in it's mordant overnight to achieve bright colours from my dyes.
 
4. So it's now the next day. I have my 100% cotton shirts prepped with mordant and are ready to be dyed. I tied them quickly into different shibori bundles to randomize how they would absorb colour and then boiled them in the dye for about an hour!
 
The colour that they turned out to be was a beautifully muted raspberry colour that compliments the onion and cochineal dye I made quite nicely. There was HARDLY a different between the leaves of the two different trees, so i just went ahead and combined the dye vats.
 
I think Japanese maple dye would be very beautiful on its own on a different kind of fabric like silk or linen. Silk is my very favourite fabric to dye with as it takes on colour in such vivid hues.

I have saved a bunch of leaves to keep experimenting with them over the winter months. Keep you eyes peeled (like the onions I used for dyeing) for more maple leaf dyed pieces to come!

 

 

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