The art of natural dyeing of fabrics.

Each term, lower secondary have an overarching topic that covers all subject areas, allowing for cross-curricular studies. During Term 2, the overall theme for the group was “fashion and textiles,” which the students explored in many ways in each subject – such as economics, mathematics, arts, history, and science (chemistry).

Through the natural dyeing of fabrics, students were able to explore, solubility, mixtures, separation, changes of state and the particle model.

The term began with experiments in dyeing fabrics using blueberries, altering the PH, and trialling different mordants by adding substances, such as alums and bicarbonate soda. The students applied varying shibori techniques and tie-dye, which gave them some very beautiful and exciting results. We arranged an incursion with Charlene, an eco-fashion designer who has been running an ethical fashion and art business and offers workshops in natural dyeing techniques. Charlene took the students for a walk through our bushland to collect items for eco printing and talked about the use of different plants as dyes. They discussed how dyeing has been around for centuries and how human art has such a connection to where people are from.

The students collected everything from flowers to bark, and even a puffball (fungi). It was amazing to see honkey nuts being used to make dye and learning the best ones are those that the parrots have chewed on!

The students then used their mathematics studies from the term to plan a business model for a “Shark Tank” presentation, in which they pitched products. After their presentations, the Shark Tank panel – as well as the students – voted on the products and the ideas with the most votes were selected, which the students then began to produce. The result was an array of handmade, naturally dyed items, which the students sold at their biannual exhibition evening to raise funds for their senior trip. Indeed, the students ended their journey with a bang, as their exhibition was such a great success! Students also exhibited their work, from a choice of at least two of their curriculum areas for members of the community to view. They had around 80 people attended the exhibition, with many stopping to buy handmade items.

Check out our students’ journey: