Bundle Dyeing on the Go

bundle dyeing

I was so excited to witness all the plant life in Costa Rica last summer that I brought a scoured and mordanted piece of cotton and some string so that I might bundle dye a bandana from the fallen flowers I come across. Let me be clear I had no intention and did not remove any plant matter from any forests, I only collected flowers along roadsides and neighborhoods that had fallen, along with 1 achiote pod from the farm I stayed on, with permission. 

So, during our first week, I gathered bright crimson hibiscus, bougainvillea, and other bold and lovely flowers and kept them in the fridge until I thought I had enough. Well, humidity was real down there, and moving from place to place, this closed up plastic bag just made everything get old and slimy quick. So, I worked with what I had, composted the flowers that turned to brown much, added in the fresh achiote seeds and pod skin, and bundled up my cotton fabric. I didn’t have a great way of steaming this fabric, so I left it in hot water. Many aspects of this experiment were not ideal, but it was a great learning lesson. Flowers need to dry out if they are to be saved (or frozen and not thawed until ready), and proper steaming really helps bring out colors if you are bundle dyeing. 

I think in the future, when traveling in humid places, I will simply enjoy the flora without collecting, or steam fresh flowers the day they are gathered. 

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