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Zero waste dyeing.

Updated: May 11, 2021

I always thought the Wombles to bit a bit naf, but I can credit them for introducing me to the concept of recycling in the the early 70s. Ironically back then people still darned their socks and mended clothes, our throwaways were collected by the rag and bone men to sell on as second hand goods, and plastic bags were a thing of the future. My Welsh Aunty Molly, a survivor of WWII, got pretty cross if I wasted even one mouthful of food. Zero waste was already thing, but we didn't really think about it as such. Why? Because in our own way we were already practicing zero waste principles, we just didn't call it zero waste because we didn't know much about disposability. Being a baby boomer has it's hangovers. These days we are moving fast through the era of recycling and I think are coming full circle back to those 'waste not, want not' principles my Aunty Molly would have been be proud of.

As a natural dyer who practices an environmentally friendly sustainable art form, it's always on my mind to find ways to reduce waste, and really it's not that difficult. If I use plastic it's always recycled over hundreds of times. String, cloth and even water can be reused too, and batch dyeing minimises energy spent on heating.

By using up remnants or samples of natural materials to wrap up in the bundles, or lay down as layers to prevent ghosting (see the previous journal entry) it's easy to produce a secondary piece of eco dyed fabric. If mordanted this will take up the dye too, creating something to keep for later. In this way I have amassed a small collection of dyed bits and pieces just waiting for me to do something creative with.

Lately I've taken to curating these pieces into eco dyed bundles for use in one-off textile projects. Packaged up with string that can be used for stitching, they are comprised of leftover or vintage fabrics and a piece of silk ribbon all dyed using up the remaining drops of a dye bath and paired with an old button or jewellery finding. Doing this helps my conscious to off-set the footprint I create by buying new silks (which in New Zealand have to be imported and therefore are carbon heavy).

Curated and naturally dyed bundles for textile art projects.

My inspiration to curate these bundles came from a love of creating stitched assemblages. It's a lovely mindful and therapeutic way to spend time while using up scraps. Zero waste art as it were.

Stitched assemblage using eco dyed curated packs.

There are things we can do on a regular basis in our art practice to reduce the amount of rubbish we generate., regardless of what medium we work with. The challenge for us is to commit ourselves to do it consistently by reviewing our current processes and to advocate zero wasting to others within our community circles so they too will be empowered to be less wasteful.

In a gentle way you can shake the world. Mahatma Ghandi

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