Eucalyptus Cinerea has to be one of my absolute favourite Eucalypts to dye with. Depending on the time of year, the soil and water conditions when harvesting these leaves, you may achieve anything from an almost neon orange to varying shades of yellow.
The leaves are very popular to use in 'contact dye' methods - these days referred to as 'eco dyeing' .
Like most eucalypts, the dye is substantive - but it never hurts to pre-mordant your project first. Alum is the common 'go-to' mordant. It is colourless and assists the dye to grip to the fibre without compromising the final colour.
All fresh eucalypt leaves hold their oil. Perhaps this is why their colour and shape is revealed so beautifully on wool, silk, cotton etc.
We recommend keeping a dye journal to record and help you standardize your work. This would include perhaps a picture of the tree and it's location, the time of year you harvested the leaves, whether you used them immediately, or as dried leaves later. It is helpful to note weather/seasonal and water conditions if possible. For example, trees growing in more iron rich soil will often give a deeper - that is - a darker colour. This may also occur if the tree is in a dry area where artesian water sources may contain more minerals.
- If you are fortunate enough to be able to harvest these leaves directly from your own tree, be mindful of not going completely bananas and stripping the tree.
- If the tree you have your eye on is on private property other than your own - naturally good manners MUST prevail.
- If the tree is on public property, it is recommended you contact the local council and request leaves from the council gardeners - they are usually quite happy to assist dyers and will often let you know when council pruning will be taking place.
If you cannot locate a tree, then you may find it helpful to contact a florist supply wholesaler. You may get lucky and find that the silver leaf eucalypts they provide for florists are of this particular species. Please note - NOT ALL trees with silver dollar shaped leaves will give the same colour as the 'cinerea'.
Happy harvesting and dyeing.
Oh and the bonus - simmering these leaves will clear your sinuses!