1 - 1 ½ yard undyed / white natural-fiber fabric*(cotton, linen, silk, and/or wool or a combination—I strongly encourage students to bring some plant fibers and some protein/animal fibers. None of the fabrics should be bulky or coarsely textured.)
Spool of strong but not-too-thick string for tightly tying fabric bundles.
Bobbin, spool, or a few yards of heavy thread and a needle to use with the thread (for attaching name tags / labels to each piece of fabric to be dyed or printed).
1 pair plastic/vinyl gloves to protect hands from pigments in dyes (available for purchase at the shop).
Pen or pencil and paper for taking note.
Scissors that can be used on fabric and plant material.
3-5 quart or gallon-size zipper bags or other plastic bags for taking home damp fabric.
Clothes that can get wet and/or stained; closed-toed shoes.
Optional: a few plant materials gathered from home (oak and maple leaves of all types, catalpa and sumac leaves; rose, raspberry, and peony leaves; apple, cherry, crabapple, sand cherry tree leaves; flowers such as coreopsis, marigold, dark hibiscus; interesting leaf and seed clusters, etc. I will also bring a lot of plant materials with me.
*Fabrics need to be thoroughly "scoured"; cotton or linen in very hot water and washing soda / soda ash + gentle detergent; silk or wool in warm water and gentle detergent.
It is very important to have clean fabrics on which to print and dye. Even fabrics that look clean can have residues on/in them that will block the absorption of pigment, so I recommend using the following techniques to prepare natural fabrics for dyeing and eco-printing. (These are pretty much the instructions found in Jenny Dean’s book “Wild Color,” which is one of my favorite reference books for botanical dyeing.)
For Plant Fibers (cotton, linen, hemp) Fill a large pot with water + (1-2 t. washing soda + 1-2 t. of cleaning solution, (such as Dawn dish-washing liquid) per gallon of water. Stir the water, washing soda, and cleansing liquid to mix and then add your plant-based fabric. Heat the water to a simmer, and then simmer the fabric at least 2 hrs. Drain off the liquid and gently rinse the fabrics. Air or machine dry them. If you do not have a pot large enough to undertake this process, I have scoured plant-based fabrics in my washing machine with success. I use the "sanitary" or hottest cycle setting and add the washing soda and Dawn/cleansing liquid directly to the machine. That cycle on my machine runs about 1.5-2 hrs.
For Protein Fibers (silk, wool) These need to be cleaned much more gently than plant fibers. Wash protein fibers in warm water and ph-neutral cleansing liquid or Dawn dish-washing liquid. This can be done on the stove-top or in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. If done on the stove top, put the fabric in cool/room-temperature water and bring the water and fabrics to a warm temperature together. Keep the water and fabric warm and stir gently for about an hour. Rinse gently several times. Air or machine dry.