Compost Dye

Yup! You read that right. And I don't mean fermentation of dye stuffs.
Working at Queens Botanical Garden gives me more access to unique dye opportunities than most other jobs out there. We have a really cool partner on our site called NYC Compost Project and I worked with their "compost pile manager" to test out some compost dye.

I took beautiful leaves from all over the Garden, which was back in October so there was still a large variety of shapes and colors on the ground. These leaves were dried for three days, dipped in an iron bath, and arranged on wetted fabric. Wrapped up the fabric and tied it into a nice tight little package.

Gave to the Compost Project and it got shoved into a nice warm pile. Temperatures average between 120-140 degrees. Nice and toasty! The piles get turned and moved quite often, so I'm not sure how many times the package was moved, but it was concealed from the elements and kept warm for three weeks.

This is what it looked like when it was removed from the compost pile:


The outer layer, currently visible had the most decomposition. The cotton easily tore at this portion, but outside of this top layer the quality of cotton was still good.

Opening up a bundle is always very exciting. However, my experience with eco-printing has been sub-par and it never comes out to my standards. So I was very pleased when I opened up this bundle and beautiful imprints of leaves, different colors, and tons of shapes greeted me. Some of the leaves I used were oak, maple, redbud, and cherry. I love the imprints left by redbud so much.




Because this bundle was aged in compost, which is teeming with friendly microbes and other goodies, some of them hitched a ride on the organic material in this bundle.

After the unveiling I hung up the cotton to dry over remnants of my plot and I still need to wash it and plan to turn it into a tee-shirt button down. This fabric is such a gorgeous fall palette, I'm very happy with it. I still have a number of leaves in my apartment so I'd like to do another bundle in the compost pile this winter, but with an iron blanket to test the differences.

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