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Is your head spinning yet trying to figure out all the ways to Eco Print? Well, let me introduce another amazing player to this fantastic magical game; Myrobalan.

Where does it come from?

This mystery powder is made from the ground nuts of the Terminalia chebula tree. It also goes by the name of Harde Powder. It is believed to have some interesting healing properties in traditional Indian medicine. For that reason it did not scare me as many of the other ‘chemicals’ do. ‘And it was easy & inexpensive for me to order it from a local health food supplier.

What does it do?

This unique matter is both a tannin and a mordant. It will dye fibres a nice buttery yellow (20-30% WOF) and provide good mordant for the hard to dye cotton fibre if used before alum at 15-20% WOF). Since it gives a nice warm yellow it can also be combined with indigo to further add tones of teal.

Since I am a hands-on person I tend to learn more by experimenting & doing than by reading. I put it through a few tests and observed what it can do. It is interesting how many different outcomes I had.

Achieving colours in the world of eco printing can be a bit of a challenge depending what species of leaves that you can find or what other natural dyes you add to the mix. Myrobalan loves iron! Whenever it has any way of the two coming together it creates a nice purplish grey. The depth does depend on the strength of both the Myrobalan and the iron, as usual. I much prefer it to the some of the dirty types of browns that some tannins create with the saddening of iron.

These are examples of a few media including paper and Rayon. It’s use is not even restricted to the usual rolled bundles of Eco Printing. (watch for future detailed posts) I can also see how stable some dyes are by how much they stain my hands and also my plastic sink; wow did I need to clean!

It is so amazing to see the reaction take place! A cooled tea made of the Harde Powder (myrobalan) has some drops of a weak iron solution (iron sulfate + water) added and immediately the dark greys appear! That is how I do test some of the strength as well. Is there a definite rule? No way…

Some of the favourite dependable printing leaves, iron blanket and a pre-dye of Myrobalan. I bet I know what you are thinking; so what are the recipe amounts? It depends on a few things? What ‘look’ are after? Do you want subtle tones/low contrast? Or do you want very dark background?

Not sure what way you would like? So many ways to use it in combination everything else. Oh, come on; just throw caution to the wind and let it surprise you. Is this not art?!

Using the tea (strong to weak) before printing will create a more ‘resist’ stencil type look (top) if using an iron blanket (bottom) or switch it all around backwards (middle) and get a very different detailed effect. (posts coming soon)

This cotton canvas is pretty heavy weight so the textures are much more pronounced since the thickness of the fibres comes into play. The ferns tend to not have much tannins to print on their own but work well with the Myrobalan for intricacy of shapes.

So grab yourself some and maybe it can even come in handy for whatever ails you… Happy Printing (watch for future detailed posts)

barbmaker

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 23 Comments
  1. Great post – I love seeing the different effects achievable. I use Myrobalan mostly with natural dyes, rather than ecoprinting, and had no idea it had medicinal properties too! I’ve been getting it from Maiwa, but see it’s more broadly available. Love your work 🙂

    1. Thanks! I know teas react with iron as well but there’s just something about the blueish tone that I love. Whenever I try something new I get obsessed and want to try it in all kinds of ways. Ah, the artist’s curse! 😉

  2. Hi Barb,
    I am always amazed by the things you come up with! I inherited some myrobalan but had no idea what it was or what to do with it. Perhaps when I get organised from my recent move and find it I can give it a try.

    Thanks so much for all you do to share your ‘secrets’. We your audience are always grateful to you for trying these things out and letting us know your various results.

    Carol

    1. I recall how it was like cracking some secret code when I started! I would not call my self an expert at all, but I do have quite a lot of prints by now! Then again, an artist is never really at the stage of perfection! Happy printing!

  3. Thanks for this information Barb.
    Are you able to tell me if your jar of miracle mordant is purely this harde powder or if it’s blended?
    I’m in Australia and have only been able to locate blends at this stage.

    Thanks so much for a wonderful blog and for being so giving with your discoveries!

    1. It is from a place that sells supplies as well as medicinal products. It only states Harde Powder (Terminalia chebula) so I’d expect it to be pure. Well, I guess it’s a trade off since it’s almost impossible for me to find great euca here! When in doubt maybe a test would be worth it!

      1. 🙂 Thanks for your reply Barb. I’ll keep an eye out for it here. Since I posted my comment I’ve located some of the pure online for a reasonable price. So I’m looking forward to having a play when it gets here. It’ll be great if this is the magic potion for dyeing cellulose fibres.

        Yes, I must admit that eucys abound just outside my door! There’s loads of varieties that survive the snow if you’re in a position to grow your own.

      2. 🙂 Thanks for your reply Barb. I’ll keep an eye out for it locally. Since I posted my comment I’ve located some of the pure online for a reasonable price. So I’m looking forward to having a play when it gets here. It’ll be great if this is the magic potion for dyeing cellulose fibres.

        Yes, I must admit that eucys abound just outside my door! There’s loads of varieties that survive the snow if you’re in a position to grow your own.

    1. Well, It’s a question I get a lot, and it sounds like a nice idea but there is so much legalities and insurances that makes that scary not to mention how much time that would also need. I am constantly running as it is trying to stay on top of things! Maybe once I connect with a venue/school! Keep checking out my posts, I try to be quite thorough!

    2. Hola, sigo tu trabajo y me encanta mucho los resultados, sigo cada post, y siempre aprendo contigo gracias por los consejos, saludo desde Chile.

  4. I always read your emails; they are full of inspiration. The human mind is amazing. So happy when it finds expression through the creativity of a strong, joyous, generous woman. How hard you work! Mostly, I paint. I have health issues, responsibilities and limited space and not much time to branch out, especially when it involves learning some new scientific process. But working with natural materials like this is becoming increasingly attractive to anyone who wants to protect the environment. It can also provide new sources of income for so many people who, literally, have little to work with except flowers, leaves and rusty nails. I am fortunate to own a computer, right now, and am able to follow your instructions on line (including all those comments from others who report on their own discoveries; it does take a village.). But I may not always have computer access. Many people do not. While knowledge and experience develop over time and learning is never complete (thank God) , it would be helpful to have some current ring binders and room to insert project pages with updated information. (Think Department of Conservation publications.) It wouldn’t require any extra writing. You have, already, prepared clear, concise, easy-to-understand lessons and gathered the comments. Just collate them according to subject matter and date and make them available at a reasonable cost. They could be useful for workshops, public or private schools, senior citizens centers, homeless shelters, boys and girls clubs, anywhere where people can benefit from training in the arts. Updates could be printed at the public library or mailed directly to subscribers. Art is not just a hobby to brighten up a dull afternoon. Many famous artists have spent their lives making both beautiful and practical products that enrich our lives; it is part of being truly “human”. THANKS.

  5. Hello Barb, this is such lovely work. I wonder if you would comment on whether you have used oak nut gall or tannic acid with iron – and if you have, why Myrobalan is preferable to you? I have tried oak nut gall and iron on cotton and get that great grey -blue, but even though I’ve used AA mordant too its just mostly washing out a week later.
    Judy

  6. Love your art and especially love your blog! You are such an explorer! I just started playing with myrobalan and I can’t wait to see more of what you do with it. Have you tried it yet on vintage linen ( well-scoured 😉)? Thanks!

  7. Do you have a website that goes into more instructional details for dyeing? What’s an iron blanket?
    My passions: polymer claying, ceramics, sewing, drawing, painting, crafting, making.
    Looks like I need one more!

    Thank you
    Deb

    1. I have many posts for Eco printing in the section under the ‘Home’ menu. There’s even a post on the ‘Iron Blanket’ . This is a great art form, just beware that it’s sometimes not that easily controlled… but that’s also the magic that can happen! Enjoy!

  8. hola! gracias por compartir tus conocimientos! quisera saber si el myrobalan se puede sustituir por otro elemento porque no puedo conseguirlo en argentina….. y a la tela la sumergis en myrobalan ????? graciasss

    1. You can try other sources of tannins like other teas. I have read that green tea will work, but I suggest to try some tests first. Yes, I dipped the fabric in the tea. See also here There are also some other natural finds like pomegranate So many ways to be creative!

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