A Peek at Terri Simon’s Eco Printing Class with Nicola Brown

A Peek at Terri Simon’s Eco Printing Class with Nicola Brown

Thanks to Terri Simon aka Meterrilee on the forum for sharing her eco printing experience today.

Today, I would like to share my experience with eco-dyeing. Most, if not all, of our blog hosts and many followers have experience with eco-dyeing, but it was a first for me and I loved it! I decided to take an online class with Nicola Brown from Ireland. She is a wonderful teacher—very thorough in describing the process in an online format, including several videos to illustrate further. She was available daily for six weeks to comment, problem solve, and encourage us as we journeyed through that week’s lesson. Like other online classes, there are “chatroom” areas to post pictures and ask questions, and to comment on one another’s creations. The online environment is available for six months and all of the lessons were downloadable in PDF format. Additionally, Nicola created a Facebook page for us to continue communication. Thanks, Nicola, for a great online experience!

As a dyeing newbie, I had to assemble equipment. At a nearby thrift store, I found an aluminum fish cooker with all kinds of inserts for steaming, an iron stake, and a length of copper pipe which I cut into pieces to fit into the fish cooker. We had an outdoor fire source…a propane tank and hook-up for deep frying a turkey. It worked perfectly on my covered back porch (this is Southern Oregon’s rainy season). Here’s my equipment:


All for $20. Not bad!

I ordered a bunch of silk, silk/wool blend, and 100% wool scarves from Dharma Trading, which had a good selection and reasonable prices. I also made pieces of felt to experiment with. For vegetation, I used rose leaves, loose tea, red and brown onion skins, strawberry and blackberry leaves, Japanese cut leaf maple and eucalyptus, donated to me by a friend who has several trees. The rest came from my garden (and kitchen.) There are lots of different “brews” for obtaining the prints. Some involve rust water, others vinegar water and other things thrown into the cooking pot (different metals, plants…). And of course, there are multiple ways to prepare the fabric for dyeing, none of which use harsh chemicals (the harshest chemical used is vinegar). I really like this aspect of eco dyeing…it’s all very natural. I am amazed that the beauty of a leaf can be imprinted substantively on fabric, right down to the intricate veining.



Here are some photos of my experiments.pic-2

This turned out sort of dark and muddy. These are Japanese maple leaves. The scarf actually looks good with the right outfit, but the prints are very subtle and not what you want when you are just starting out (at least not what I wanted!).

These are pieces of handmade felt, with eucalyptus (the skinny and bright orange leaves) and strawberry leaves. The purplish looking circles are cut from red onion skins.


Next is a blend of wool and silk. You can really see the details of the onion skins on this fabric.


The scarf below is 100% silk. The print is much softer looking. I like the tie lines produced when wrapping the bundle.



Finally, I made some felt placemats and while they are interesting, I am not a fan of the muddy yellowish background. I found out it was operator error for not keeping the heat up high enough for a long enough time. I had to go out for a bit and turned off the flame under the pot, letting the placemats sit for about an hour until I got home to untie them. My mistake! Had I kept the heat up for the full five hours, I would have produced a much clearer print, such as the example pieces I have included in this picture. But, they are still pretty in a muted way.


I highly recommend Nicola’s classes. She is an excellent teacher, very thorough and organized and she has a delightful wit as well.  You can find more information on Nicola and her classes here:   http://www.nicolabrown.ie/



15 thoughts on “A Peek at Terri Simon’s Eco Printing Class with Nicola Brown

    1. Thank you Deb. Have you done eco-dyeing before or are you inspired to begin? If you are a newbie, I believe Nicola is starting another class soon. I am signed up to take her phase two class, starting soon, which will cover dyeing on cotton and linen rather than protein based fabrics. That should round out my knowledge for future experimentation.

  1. You did well with buying the equipment – bargain!
    I really like the elegant silk scarf and the wool/silk piece is so delicately pretty.
    Had you not compared the place mats with the two squares of felt, you may have liked them more? The muted colours would sit well on a dark wood table.

    1. Thank you Lyn. I like crisp lines and colors better than muted ones in general, but you are right, the muted colors look nice on dark wood. There’s a thrift shop within a couple of miles of my house that has the most spectacular deals on items useful for eco dyeing. I got lucky! Other students in the class ordered supplies on Amazon and paid much more for new things.

  2. You got some nice clear prints. Eucalyptus does seem to give the best result from what I have seen from others too. You will have to let us know how the colours hold.

    1. The eucalyptus does print extremely well. Onion skins, blackberry, and strawberry leaves are also sure bets for printing. Everything else seems more of a gamble, but certainly fun to play with. The items I am making, for now, are things that don’t require Frequent laundering. Nicola advised us that over time and washings, the dyes would fade a bit.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement! I did take notes and will try to remember to continue that. Best thing is to snap a picture and record the process; otherwise, it’s challenging to remember what the notes are for. I’m not usually very disciplined about note taking, but it is definitely worth it when eco dyeing.

  3. Nice job! I like the place mats even though they are more muted than the square samples. I have found that it takes a lot experimentation to get the best results with eco dyeing.

    1. Thank you Ruth. I still have lots to do in the way of experimenting. It’s been too cold to work outside since early December–I don’t want the vinegar and rust water fumes in the house. I have yet to even try using an “iron blanket,” which is a barrier of cloth or paper soaked in treated water and placed on the plants before rolling. That gives dark borders around the plant material. Warm weather, come back!!!

    1. 😁😁😁 thank you Patti. I just signed up for the phase two class today, so yes, I need to start generating the income to pay for the classes and supplies!

  4. Interesting results! Have you tried replacing the aluminium pots with something else in the meantime? I know they interfere with acid dyes so I wonder if they do too with eco printing (and thus change your results) – more food for thought and future experiments 😀

    1. I have only used the aluminum pot. I may eventually return to the thrift store for a large stainless steel pot and/or an enamel canning pot…not sure if these would have any different effect or not. The brew used to steam or boil the bundles has the most effect on the prints, I think. This can be clear water, rust water, vinegar water, or water with various vegetation thrown in, or a combination of some or all! Yes, experimentation seems endless. 😜

    2. I think you’d be surprised how different the colours might come out! Considering you’re not using anything that you wouldn’t cooking, you could experiment in a regular pot and see how it goes. Endless opportunities to experiment, like you say 😀

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