The Art of Monsoon: Celebrate Earth Day

Wednesday, 22nd April is Earth Day and we’re celebrating with some eco-friendly at home crafts! At Monsoon we’re passionate about looking after our planet, from sustainable fabrics to our artisan collections, we believe in seeking an eco-friendly world however we can – art at home is one of them.

Art is at the very core of Monsoon; it is in our DNA and influences so many of our collections. That’s why we’ve decided to create our own art club. To start we spoke to our design team for tips on how to make natural dye and create woodblock printing inspired by Earth Day.

We’d love to see how you get on, please tag us in any photos with the hashtag #mymonsoon and they could be included in our next post!

 

 

How to At Home: Natural Dye

 

You will need:

Natural fabric – cotton, silk, linen, wool

Stockpot or large pan (ideally stainless steel as will not stain)

Water

A cup of salt/washing soda

Natural dye material of choice (see step 2)

Mordant – optional (dye fixative – alum)

Gloves

Utensils to stir with

 

 

Step 1 – Preparing the fabric

Wearing gloves, the fabric needs to be cleaned with washing soda (I used one cup per gallon water) can use salt if you wish as an alternative.

Add to a large pan with water (enough to fill pan). Add fabric and turn up the heat then let simmer for 2 hours. Stir occasionally, drain and rinse once cool.

 

 

Step 2 – Making the dye 

You can use:

Dried black beans = black (these will need to be soaked overnight- once drained the black water is the dye)

Ground turmeric= golden yellow 

Spinach=green

Beetroot= pink

Red cabbage= purple

Blueberries= lilac

Avocado pits/skins= soft pinks

Leaves= pale yellows/greens/browns

Dried flowers of your choice

 

Roughly chop your choice of dyeing material, pile in a large pan, fill with water, sprinkle with salt and bring to the boil then simmer for an hour. Set liquid aside.

 

Step 3 – Soaking the fabric in mordant (optional)

For this step you will need to soak the fabric in mordant, to make the colour stick to the fabric if you will be washing it. Alum is one of the least toxic mordants and can be found in supermarkets (used for pickling).

Wearing gloves stir in a few teaspoons of alum into a cup of boiling water – pour into a large stainless-steel pan of cold water, stir in the fabric, simmer for an hour.

If you are using alum/plants keep this pan separate for dyeing, do not use for cooking afterwards as even some plants can be toxic!

Once cool, rinse with cold water still wearing gloves.

 

 

Step 4 – Dyeing Process

You should use enough dye so the fabric can move freely. At this stage, you can do a tie-dye technique if you wish to – see our how to below & our Instagram page for the video

Place the fabric in the pan/a bucket – leave at least an hour or overnight. Stir occasionally. Once you are happy with the colour, rinse with cold water and leave the fabric to dry. The colour will lighten when the fabric dries.

 

 

How to At Home: Tie Dye

 

You will need:

Natural fibre fabric – or whatever you would like to dye! 

Elastic bands or string

2 wooden triangles or two wooden squares (approx. same size) 

Dye solution and dye bucket 

Utensil to stir 

Water 

 

 

For circles:

Step 1

Lay out the fabric flat, get elastic bands or string – although elastic bands are much easier! Start near a corner and gather the fabric up in your hand, pop your elastic bands around, where you have the elastic bands will be where dye does not appear.

Step 2

To get a smaller circle inside the larger circle just add another elastic band higher up.

Step 3

Once you have as many circles as you wish you are ready to place in the dye bucket.

Step 4

Leave at least one hour or overnight, then rinse in cool water and leave to dry, the fabric colour will lighten while drying.

 

 

For squares & circles:

Step 1

Lay your fabric out flat, take your wooden triangle or wooden square and place at a right angle on the fabric to get apron scale.

Step 2

Fold over the fabric, then fold back on itself (like an accordion) until you get to the end.

Step 3

Then place your wooden triangle or square on top at a right angle, and again fold then fold back on itself until you get to the end. You will be left with a triangle or square.

Step 4

Now sandwich your fabric triangle or square in between the 2 wooden pieces. Tie 3-4 elastic bands around the triangles or squares.

Step 5

Now it’s ready for the dye bath.

 

 

How to At Home: Woodblock Printing

You will need: 

1 large household sponge (we used a face painting sponge)

1 woodblock (available in most art stores/online)

1 water jar

2 tonal acrylic paints

 

Step 1

Colour wash your page using the watered-down acrylic paint (use your lightest tone paint) and large sponge and leave to dry

Step 2

Mix acrylic paint with water on a plate

Step 3

Wet your sponge and dip into the paint, then sponge this onto your woodblock

Step 4

Hold the block level above the page and press down evenly across the block

Step 5

Lift directly up and repeat sets 3-5

 

 

How to At Home: Floral Prints

Items you need:

1 large household sponge (I used a face painting sponge)

1 smaller sponge (I used a make-up sponge)

1 paintbrush

1 mixing palette

1 water jar

Mixed acrylic paints 

 

Step 1

Colour wash your page using watered down acrylic paint and large sponge and leave to dry

Step 2

Roughly mark out the lightest flowers using the white paint and a smaller sponge

Step 3

Roughly add the mid-tones using the same small sponge

Step 4

Blend the colours together using a small sponge

Step 5 

Paint in some steams + central parts of the flowers using a paintbrush

Step 6

Paint in the darkest tones in your flowers using the paintbrush

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