Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Boiled Books/Eco Dyeing

Last week I was playing around with watercolour paper and plant material to make a concertina book.  My first attempt was not very successful, however, I was pleased with these three pages ....

The left hand side had marigold flowers and leaves laid on it.  The next two sides had a shaggy ink cap toadstool cut in half and squashed between the two pages.  Amazing result.

The lack of colour set me thinking soI saved up some onion skins, both brown and red and used them to interleave between the pages with other plant material. This produced much better results, but there is still plenty of room for experimentation.


  1. when you say eco dying and boiled books, do you really boil the books ? What happens to the paper? When you press things between the pages are they wet ? Why don't they stick together ? I need to know these things, the results are lovely !

    1. Use 140 lb 100% rag watercolour paper. Make a concertina book with it. Lay leaves/flowers in between the pages on both back and front of the book. Put the dye plant (onion skin) between the leaves not against the paper. Squash the concertina book between 2 pieces of heavy card or wood the same size as the paper. Secure it tightly. I used several elastic bands. Boil for one and a half hours in a pan of water and vinegar. Approx half a cup of vinegar. Strain off the water. Leave for 24 hours before opening. Do not use the pan for food use afterwards. Have fun experiment. I am going to try Sumac leaves for the dye element now.

  2. Forgot you need to weight the concertina book down in the pan with a brick or something or it floats ...

  3. I tried some yellow lilies, red Japanese maple, some green leaves, wh. rose, pink carnations- I did use 140 lb watercolor paper I tried to compressed them let sit for a day. i tied them up w/cotton string, used brick to hold them down- boiled then simmer for 90 mins. I decided to use some ink dye. Some took and some showed up as a ghost. The red maple pick up the dye, but noticed it didn't release it's natural color, I though it would. I noticed that the darker heavier color does well- next time I'll ue some red cabbage and union.