After seeing a demonstration by a very talented West Australian based designer, Jean Shine, who used various forms of bleached seaweed, I went through a phase of bleaching all sorts of plant material. This was known by my family as the “Can You Bleach It” phase….they stayed well away from me!!
Here is the technique I use for bleaching seaweed I can find locally on the coast of NSW near Newcastle. I have tried many variations of the steps but this is now what works best for me and this type of seaweed.
- Gather seaweed
- Rinse off sand and any excess debris with a quick bath in cold water.
- Using the cheapest bleach you can find (yes I tried many brands and various dilutions) submerge some seaweed.
- Place a weighted bucket on top so that it stays under the bleach.
- Check at 15 minute intervals to see if the seaweed has reached the level of colour you want.
- Rinse off the bleach on cold water
- Lay out to dry. Remember if you are in a high humidity area it will not dry completely. Move the pieces around as they will take on the shape in which they are hanging as they dry.
The longer you leave the seaweed in the bleach the more variety of colours you will have in the finished product.
If you leave it too long in the bleach it will break down and become jelly like and not suitable to use.
If you final product is hard and difficult to manipulate, mist very lightly with water.
The dried seaweed lasts for years if stored in paper sheets in a dark box away from any humidity.