When nature and art come together

Art, in all its various forms is my life’s passion. I trained as a goldsmith, have also taken some painting courses throughout the years I have always been fascinated by nature. Ever since I was a little girl, I have never been able to stop myself from collecting her wonderful gifts whenever I walked along a beach, through a forest or along the banks of a river; shells, stones, pine cones, branches of leaves… and I still do it to this day.

I happened to discover eco printing by chance, when I took an introductory course.

From that day on, it has been true love and I have not been able to tear myself away.

This printing method is characteristically unique; since it is often difficult to predict what the final results on the fabric will be.

The colour variations can be unexpected because they change depending on the season that the materials were collected, the part of the plant being used, the fibres of the fabric, the temperature, and the pH levels of the water.

The first step is to choose the fabric to print on, which must be made of an undyed natural fibre, deriving either from an animal (wool and silk) or plant (cotton, linen, hemp, viscose). Once chosen, the fabric is carefully washed. If using a plant derived fabric, then it should be treated with a mordant; for other types of fabric this isn’t strictly necessary. Natural products such as soya milk, walnut galls and egg white are used as a mordants, and the fabrics are left to soak in it for days according to various procedures and recipes.

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The second step is to go out looking for leaves, roots, berries and flowers. Not every plant can create a dye. Some are quite well known, others less so, and so I try to widen my knowledge by always experimenting with new plants.

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Once the materials have been carefully selected, the next phase is to arrange the collection on the fabric. There is no predefined method; the materials can be arranged depending on your personal taste and by trying to imagine, as much as possible, the outcome.

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At this point, the materials are at last folded and rolled around sticks, iron tubes or bamboo canes, and then placed in boiling water or steamed. Sometimes, I add more leaves with dyeing properties to the boiling water, in order to obtain a base colour for the fabric.

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After several hours the rolls are removed and left to cool. I usually open some straight away, while others I leave to rest for days so that the pigments can penetrate the fibres even further. It’s interesting to see how the results turn out differently with time.

After removing the dyeing materials and rinsing the fabrics in tepid water, they are left to dry; only at this point can we stand back and admire Mother Nature’s latest glory!

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Text and photos by Daniela Spinucci

Connect with Daniela via her Facebook page

Translation by Fuschia Hutton


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