Women's Limited Artist Series: Eucalyptus Bark

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Limited edition artist made. Dyed with foraged eucalyptus bark by Oakland-based artist Laurin C Guthrie.

  • Fabric: 100% organic cotton USA grown

  • Origins: Organic cotton grown in USA, spun + knit in USA, designed + sewn in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dyed with foraged eucalyptus bark by Laurin C Guthrie in Oakland, California. Entirely USA domestic supply chain.

  • Color: Light sand

  • Questions? We would love to help hello@harvestandmill.com

The work of Laurin C Guthrie

Laurin C Guthrie is an Oakland-based artist and writer working between the disciplines of craft, art, design and ecology.

These shirts were dyed with eucalyptus bark (and iron salt) collected from a stand of trees in the Berkeley hills. Neither cotton nor eucalyptus are native plants to Northern California, both were brought by colonists, but both have become a part of this place and bringing them together highlights a small part of the layers of history here.

Eucalyptus trees naturally shed their bark, which falls from the trees in long strips. This means that the bark can be harvested without harming the tree, unlike a lot of other barks used in dyeing. These strips were blown down by wind and then gathered from the ground around the trees. Gathering the debris also helps to clear potential fire-fuel. The strips then get cut down into smaller pieces and steeped in gently simmering water, a lot like making tea.

Eucalyptus bark is high in tannic acid, which helps the natural eucalyptus dye attach to cotton fibers, so there’s no need to add any fixatives to the fiber or eucalyptus—the natural dye in the plant matter contains the fixative.

To get a second color from the bark, a powdered iron salt is added in very, very small quantities to the dye bath before the shirts are added. This produces a lovely grey color when the iron reacts with the eucalyptus bark. The shirts are then added to the dye bath and gently simmered before steeping in the dye until the color is fully saturated.

The depth of color in these shirts will last longer if they are washed in cold water with a mild detergent and line dried. When they do start to fade, they will do so slowly, gently moving through a range of lovely, progressively lighter shades.

Learn more about Laurin C Guthrie and her work here.