Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sydney Morning Herald article on my eco dye course at Sydney Botanic Gardens

Robin Powell was one of the lovely ladies at my natural plant dye course at the Sydney Botanic Gardens earlier in the year and here is an article she wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald about what she got out of the two day course. Below is the online version of the article.

Gardening: channel your inner 

When I was a child I spent hours making potions and perfumes from the pickings in my mum's garden. The purple fingers of flowers that waved at me from a huge old buddleia were highly sought after, but what I didn't know then is that buddleia has a secret side for the potion-maker. When heated, those purple flowers produce a dye as saffron-yellow as turmeric. 
This astonishing metamorphosis was the most surprising finding of a weekend spent experimenting with eco-dyeing; and reliving my childhood as a garden witch/perfumier. The workshop was held at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and run by eco-dyer and felter Gina Mastio.

Mastio makes hand-crafted clothes in wool and nunio, a fabric made by felting wool over silk. The fabric is dyed and printed with what she picks up walking the kids to school or gathers in her Frenchs Forest garden. The garden wasn't planted as a dyer's warehouse. Her interest was edibles, so there are natives out the front for the birds, fruit trees and vegetables out the back for the family, and flowers for bees and butterflies.
But it's all gone into the dye pot at some point. "When I walk around the garden there's always something new to try," she says. "I could use something familiar at a different temperature, or with a different metal to affect the colour. Or I might just use it as a print. I was pruning the 'Bronze Rambler' grevillea the other day and was stuck by its lovely outline – that would make a great print."

Eco-dying and printing is a sleek fit with the hipster appreciation of the hand-crafted; consequently the web is crammed with instructions about how to dye stuff and print stuff with the plants from your garden. To try out it yourself, simply jam some leaves or flowers into a jar of water, and heat up the jar in a boiler of water for 30 minutes (place a folded tea towel in the bottom of the boiler as you would it you were sterilising jars).
Let the colour develop, then strain out the organic matter, dunk a test strip of silk in the dye (silk and wool take up the dye best) and steam the dye jar and its silk strip in the boiler for another half an hour.
We found that banana leaves make a dull green dye, avocado seeds make soft apricot, onion skins make rusty orange, and the dried leaves of ornamental cherries turn silk a lovely pinky-brown. But nothing beat the buddleia for intensity. The tiny browned-off flowers print as sparkles of gold on the fabric. "You can deadhead the bush when the flowers have finished and store them in a paper bag," says Mastio. "They get pretty nasty-looking, but even a year later you still get brilliant colour."
The workshop gave me a whole new way to appreciate my garden – as craft cupboard, and not just for the kids and their potions.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Follow my work on instagram for more up to date posts

Some people like blogs, some facebook or twitter, instagram, pinterest or probably many other things as well. I've never gone for facebook or twitter but I do love instagram to both follow other wonderfully creative people and to post on. So if you're not a 'grammer but think maybe you might like to, this is to show you a bit of my 'feed'. Very photo based or small videos plus a little text. The rare ad but not like facebook. So have a browse, it's a pretty wonderful platform to use, in my opinion. My tag is @ginamastio and if you are already on instagram I hope to meet you soon. 

You will get more of a glimpse of my day to day life and creativity. Just incase you're interested...

Monday, 27 March 2017

Photos from eco dyeing and nuno felting at the Sydney Botanic Gardens

plant dyed silks
Here are some photos from the two day nuno felt eco dye course I ran at the Sydney Botanic Gardens recently. This is the third year I have had the pleasure to give a dye workshop at the gardens and I'm always sincerely grateful for the honour, as I do consider it such an incredible landmark in Australia, a place of breathtaking beauty. 

In the workshop this year I combined eco plant dyeing with nuno felt making, so that participants learnt some techniques in both creative fields. In two days they learnt emersion dyes from garden plants, eco printing, created a nuno felt shawl with eco dyeing and a cushion cover, also plant dyed. They now have enough creative knowledge to continue to explore for the rest of their days!
eco prints 


Nuno felt shawls made with pre plant dyed silks and post dyed with plants. Try saying that quickly...

Nuno felt shawls and cushion covers, plant dyed and hand felted.

If you would like to be on a waiting list for my upcoming courses, feel free to contact me here or follow my instagram @ginamastio

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Learn to nuno felt and eco dye with plants

silk fabrics dyed with plants
There are still a few places left in my nuno felting and eco dyeing course running at the Sydney Botanic Gardens next Friday and Saturday the 17th and 18th March 2017. Be quick to contact the gardens on the link below or contact them on Lyn Johnson (02) 9231 8182 |

Two days of fun exploring creative and beautiful techniques that you can continue to practice at home after. Endless possibilities and you will take home two original creations made by you.
Hope to see you there. 

plant dye samples
nuno felt shawl dyed with plants
nuno felt shawl and cushion, dyed with plants

Sunday, 22 January 2017

2017 Nuno felt plant dye course at Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

 Plant Dyed Nuno Felt Textiles with Gina Mastio
                                                                              17 - 18 March 2017

In this new course, textiles artist Gina Mastio combines two of her passions, felt making and eco plant dyeing in this creative two day plant/natural fibres course. Perfect for beginners or more experienced creatives of either medium, wishing to learn some of the wonders of natural dyes from plants and how to make your own original textiles pieces. 

Day one you will learn nuno felting, combining silk with merino wool to form a unique nuno felt scarf. You will then discover the eco printing technique, printing your scarf to your own design.
Day two you will make submersion dyes from plant material and learn to felt over a plastic relief pattern to create your own nuno felt cushion. These will then also be eco dyed with the technique of your choice. 
Further experiments with colour from the submersion dyes and eco printing will also be done throughout the course - Two wonderfully creative days to introduce you to some beautiful new techniques.
Places in classes of two days or more can be secured by paying $100 deposit and balance two weeks before class dates.  Deposits can only be paid by phone: 9231 8182.

Location: Joseph Maiden Theatre
Age: Adult
Transport info:
More info: Class fee includes all materials, morning tea and lunch
$335 (Foundation & Friends $295)
Lyn Johnson (02) 9231 8182 |

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Sustainable fashion from Sydney

Here are some shots I took this week of my nature inspired eco clothing. Hand felted and dyed with plants from my local environment. Each piece is unique, one of a kind. 

 Look at the beauty of the Sydney bushland, we are so lucky to be surrounded by this. 

Bespoke orders available for those who love original clothing made just for them.

The gorgeous Francheska kindly wearing my creations. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

Article in newspaper 2

Designer Gina Mastio made prestigious NY Times Wedding section with star composer’s granddaughter’s frock

A DRESS made from felt and dyed with eucalyptus leaves has made it into the prestigious weddings section of the New York Times.
Frenchs Forest designer Gina Mastio made the dress for bride Frankie Thomas — despite her getting married in Connecticut, USA.

A screengrab of the New York Times piece with a picture of Frankie Thomas wearing the dress by Gina Mastio with husband Ian Tattersall photographed by Kelly Prizel.
Gina Mastio in her studio.

She’s the granddaughter of West Side Story composer Leonard Bernstein, and found Mrs Mastio online.
She was commissioned to craft the special frock from silk and other natural fibres, including a concoction of the Aussie leaves — with rusty metal added to create the oyster grey colour.

Actress Natalie Wood in 1961 film West Side Story
West Side Story composer Leonard Bernstein.
She had no idea the buyer had such an illustrious heritage or that she’d be chosen by the paper.
Mrs Mastio, said: “I nearly fell over. I couldn’t believe it.”
The dress featured in a storey called Dresses Our Brides Have Worn, alongside frocks by big name designers including Phillip Lim.
Similar dresses take six weeks to create and cost from $650.


FRANKIE is a freelance writer and transcriber for journalists and documentary filmmakers.
She married Ian Tattersall, a doctor, in Connecticut on June 4.
The couple met, according to the New York Times, through mutual friends out for a night at a karaoke bar in Manhattan in 2011.
He friended her on Facebook the next day but they didn’t become a couple until the following summer after directing A Midsummer Night’s Dream together for the Bard Hall Players.
The bride told the designer she’d wanted one of her dresses before she even knew she was getting married.
She wrote in her review of Mrs Mastio’s work: “I am so lucky to have found Gina Mastio, the most talented artist working on Etsy!
As soon as I discovered her work, I immediately knew I wanted her to provide my wedding dress — and I wasn’t even engaged yet.
“Once I got engaged, I never even considered getting my dress anywhere else: I HAD to have a Gina Mastio dress.
“It was an absolute dream come true when she agreed to make a custom one for me.
I'm in New York, and I was worried about working with a designer in Australia, but Gina was always responsive, informative, and kind in our correspondence.
“She asked good questions and made helpful suggestions about the design and sizing. When the dress arrived, it was wrapped in beautiful paper, with a lovely handwritten note.
“And the dress is PERFECT — gorgeous, well made, even better than I hoped! Thank you, Gina!”

The New York times reported that the bride also liked the frock because she can wear it again, unlike many of the sumptuous creations.
Mrs Mastio, who is originally from France, said: “She contacted me through my etsy shop and requested me to create a dress for her.
“We discussed the style and sizing details, and I contacted her whenever I needed a detail clarified.
“With my techniques I use, it is very sculptural.
“The dresses are not cut and stitched, but rather hand felted from silk fabric and wool fibres that are laid down individually.
“The piece is hand felted together and shrinks during the process. There are many factors that influence the outcome, so no two items are alike.
“Experience is the essential ingredient to create a dress at a distance in such circumstances.”