one-pot wonders

One-pot wonders are a great way to conserve energy, both your physical energy and the heat source you use (gas, electricity, wood, solar and so on).

And I’m not only talking about food! The same principle applies to natural dyeing.

Eco dyeing pans - Rita Summers

To me, being an ‘eco’ dyer means more than just foraging from my natural local environment. Among other things, it also means using my resources responsibly and keeping my impact on the planet as low as possible.

Near Mt Elephant - Rita Summers

Western civilisation has been living as if there is no tomorrow. Unfortunately tomorrow is here and the supposedly endless resources we used so thoughtlessly are running out. In addition, this outlook has had a huge impact on both the environment and on humanity itself.

Eucalypts near St Marys - Rita Summers

As one person I can make a difference, however small it is. I harvest leaves from our property (photos 2 and 3, above) in a way that encourages new growth, and I only take a small amount from each tree. If a tree is stressed by factors such as drought, insects or mould I let it rest for a few months.

I also do one-pot wonders, which is the main subject of this blog post. My method is to place multiple bundles in the same pan or container so that only one hot plate or electrical appliance is used instead of several. Three bundles cooked or steamed together equals a reduction of energy usage by two thirds. That is significant over time!

Avocado dyeing - Rita Summers

Eco printing on paper - Rita Summers

Which brings me to my best and largest pot - a vintage laundry boiler (called a copper because traditionally that’s what they were made from. Mine is a 1940’s electric model and is mostly aluminium, but it has a copper base). I bought it in a garage sale for $80 a few years ago and it is probably one of my most treasured possessions.

1940’s laundry boiler - Rita Summers

1940’s laundry boiler with bundles - Rita Summers

I often do 5 or 6 bundles at a time but just last week - on a play day with a friend - it held 10 bundles. And it was still only just over half full! So potentially we used 1/10 of the electricity we might have used if each bundle had been cooked separately.

They great thing is that they didn’t turn out the same! Here are some photos of my results, all from our play day one-pot wonder, and all different.

Vintage silk

Eco printed vintage silk - Rita Summers

Wool woven in Tasmania (done face to face with the silk and rolled up as one bundle)

Eco printed wool - Rita Summers

Vintage slip (nylon and lace)

 Eco printed vintage slip - Rita Summers

Eco printed vintage slip, front - Rita Summers

Upcycled wool vest

Eco printed wool vest, front - Rita Summers

Eco printed wool vest, back - Rita Summers

Vintage wool wrap

Eco printed wool wrap - Rita Summers

Eco printed wool wrap, back - Rita Summers

I used various combinations of the same leaves and rusty objects for everything and simmered them together for about 2 1/2 hours. The range of colours and patterns amazed me!

In the light of all this, please give one-pot wonders a try. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results, and you will be making a difference, one step at a time.

Note - water consumption is another issue that needs some thought. I often reuse water or dye until it is very dark. If I reuse it 3 times I’ve reduced the amount of water by two thirds. By not using chemicals I can also pour it around plants in the garden or on the compost without any problems. Win-win!


  • Howja like todo lottsa gobbsa
    artsy-fartsy after our demise?
    yooNeye definately can;
    we can do anything and
    everyth’n VanGogh’s ‘starry sky’
    for E T E R N I T Y, gorgeous!!
    Here’s how, miss adorable:
    ● NOPEcantELOPE.blogspot.com ●
    Love you. Cya soon.
    Dominus Vobiscum
    (Latin: peace BwU)

    Dr. kold_kadavr_flatliner, MD sez
  • I love your results. How do you ‘fix’ the colours after the dying process please?

    Pam Harrison
  • I love the way you eco print. Here in India in my state and locality I don’t have eucs and other plants that you use. I’ll try the local leaves like you do and see how they turn up. Your work is really beautiful xx

    Arunita Datta
  • Brilliant strategy Rita. If just half the folks on our planet were thinking the same way about resources, just think where we could be! And it didn’t cost you anything to do it!!

    Franki Kohler
  • Thanks heaps Fenella! It is quite amazing; so lovely to see your range of results too 🌿😊

    Rita Summers

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