Ziporah Hildebrandt Eco-Dyer

Ziporah Hildebrandt creates unique, patterned hand-dyed silk pieces using traditional Japanese shibori techniques as well as methods of her own. She began dyeing in her teens, selling t-shirts at fairs and craft shops. Now, it’s all about the plants.

orange-fabricDisabled for over twenty years with chemical sensitivities, Hildebrandt couldn’t leave home without an oxygen tank. She had to give up synthetic dyes to continue creating the art with dyeing she loves. She recalled making a dye from crab apple leaves as a high school science project, and looked around the garden with new eyes.

Many plants hide secret colors beneath their ordinary appearances. Her extensive garden yields a variety of flowers, fruits, barks, mushrooms and leaves for creating natural dyes. Over the years, Hildebrandt’s experimentation has provided her with hours of fun.

img_0457 There’s a timeless space of joy for her in attuning to the interaction of a piece of wet silk with whatever plants are brewing in a bucket. It’s as if the silk and the plants talk to her about how to fold, bind, clamp or tie the fabric. She loves the surprise of opening it up after waiting for days or weeks until it feels ready. The finished piece is an expression of nature through sunlight, earth, air and water. Time weaves plant and fibre together in a blossoming of pattern and color.

She is now recovered from the chemical sensitivities, and continues to dye with plants because she loves the subtle, complex colors, and the slow process of dyeing naturally. She makes most dyes with solar heat and simple, non-toxic mordants like salt, vinegar and the natural tannins and acids in the plants. Flowers such as daffodils, crocuses, primula, rhododendrons, goldenrod, dandelions, dahlias and peonies are rich in color. The bark from trees can be soaked to extract the color. Berries, wild grapes, and even citrus peels are fun to play with.

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She had never heard of shibori until after she’d been dyeing with plants for some time. This Japanese tradition encompasses multiple methods of resist dyeing, many of which lend themselves well to the delicate silk fabrics she likes. Hildebrandt has adapted shibori methods in new ways to the small scale of single scarves. She also combines shibori with eco-printing, the direct transfer of color and shape from a leaf to fabric.

Hildebrandt is also an award-winning writer, an energy healer and teacher, and flower essence specialist. Hildebrandt works with the transformative energies of plants, the earth and nature. Many people sense the healing powers of plants within the dyed fabric. The healing power of plants goes beyond the medicinal actions of herbal remedies. Plants heal and help us on many levels and in many ways, bringing peace, joy, comfort, inspiration, blessing, and offering spiritual insight. The plant source of the dyes bring all this to the wearer, blessing and connecting us to nature’s source.

You can see some of her work on her online shop at zeldezplantwear.etsy.com