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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Wool woven in Tasmania (done face to face with the silk and rolled up as one bundle)
Vintage slip (nylon and lace)
Upcycled wool vest
Vintage wool wrap
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!