Monday, October 31, 2011

weekly bundles no. 8

Pecan leaves! My sister-in-law and her family have a great pecan tree in the back of their house, and after our last visit I came back with a bagful of leaves, still green and fresh. I bundled them up, clamped some between paper, and simmered them in tap water augmented with iron. The results are amazing. I am thrilled and humbled by the beauty of these prints.

It is obvious that the iron water really penetrated the wool (which started out light gray). The impressions on the linen are more blurry, and much lighter in color. I think a longer processing time would have benefitted the linen prints to ensure the water gets through all the layers.

The paper prints are even more stunning in real life. The texture is breathtaking and the colors are vivid and deep. I tested a few raspberry and dogwood leaves as well, and I think all were enhanced by the addition of iron.

So a happy bundle experiment this time. The long wool piece will be a scarf for me, and the splendid impressions on paper also deserves to become something very special...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

stitching slowly

Lots of time is spent stitching lately. Slowly, methodically, and deliberately. It is hard not to feel rushed with looming deadlines, but I am trying. Taking deep breaths, concentrating on the needle penetrating the cloth, creating lines and texture as we go. I am enamored with tone on tone stitching, without much contrast, except the sheen of the thread agains the matt linen.

I am featured in a new book called Mastering the art of fabric printing and design by Laurie Wisbrun. It is a great book that covers a wide range of techniques and aspects of textile design and printing, and it includes profiles and interviews with many wonderful textile makers from around the world. The first edition is released in the UK. The book will be available in the US in the spring under a slightly different title. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 24, 2011

weekly bundles no. 7

The bag of eucalyptus leaves that I have saved since the summer of 2010 finally was put to use this past week. The more than one year old leaves did not disappoint. The distinct coral orange really popped on the silk, appeared a bit more subtle on the linen, but even the pvc pipe I used as my wrapping tool is now permanently marked by this magical plant.

White oak was the other component in the bundles, which were simmered in tap water for about two hours, left to cool, and opened about 24 hours later. So far the oak prints have not been as distinct as I want. Next time I will try working with the leaves clamped rather than rolled.

My latest obsession is printing and dyeing silk organza. It takes the dye beautifully and the colors becomes both rich and alluring. Prints on the organza vanishes when held up to light, but appears crisp and clear against a light background. Lovely.

A few more paper prints ended up in the pot as well – nothing spectacular – rose leaves, japanese maple, and some more eucalyptus for that rosy touch.

Monday, October 17, 2011


So many possibilities, not enough hours in the day. This time the weekly bundle did not happen. I was on the go all week filling orders, tying up loose ends, and preparing for things to come. Well even the best of intentions...

I did get my etsy shop back up. I am trying to list more one-of-a-kind eco dyed and eco printed work. Many of my popular pieces, such as the sachets and towels are still there, but there will be some transitions. I love this time of year. The air is crisp, and the colors are vivid. Hope the week is off to a good start for you too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

teaching and learning

My teaching debut last week at the Thomas Jefferson Demonstration Garden went off without a hitch. We boiled up two dye pots, chatted about natural dyes, colors, mordants, local dye sources, and textile history, all in a brief two hours. Despite my nervousness and doubt I enjoyed myself and I am grateful for the students willingness to partake in something new. Most of the undergraduates taking the workshop had no experience with dyeing or plant colors, and their perspective and questions were both insightful and refreshing. I think all of us had fun.

Time was short, but we managed to harvest tansy buds and sumac leaves, brew them up, add linen samplers and silk thread to the extraction, one dip in the alum mordant, and then back into the dye pot for a final soak... The colors turned out beautiful, a sunny yellow from the tansy and a rusty brown from the sumac.

Prior to the class I made a small sampler quilt, with fabric pieces dyed with plants growing in our region. Just to show how diverse the colors can be, even if none of them appears to be bright and flashy on its own. This lead to new conversations about synthetic dyes, and the difficulty of mass producing natural dyes, which in turn lead to a discussion about something else. So for me this teaching experience was just as much about learning. Thank you Lily and Rachael for the invitation, and for the beautiful photos documenting the event.

Photos courtesy of Rachael Dealy Salisbury, Thomas Jefferson Demonstration Garden. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 10, 2011

weekly bundles no. 6

The dye pot that was not. My first attempt of fresh indigo dyeing was a total failure. Not of trace of blue, or any other color for that matter. I carefully followed the three day vat recipe from Rebecca Burgess's book harvesting color, with the exception that she used polygonum tinctorium and I used indigofera tinctoria. I had a hunch that something was awry since the color of the dye liquid did not look like hers throughout the process. Maybe the two different species of indigo will react/ferment in different ways? Naturally, I dove right into this without doing my homework. Now I am really intrigued and want to learn more. I have plenty of indigo (indigofera tinctoria) that need to be harvested soon and I would love to give this another try. Words of wisdom from you indigo experts out there would be most welcome.

To offset my disappointment with the indigo trial, I boiled up some beet root just for a test. I expected pink, and got a musky (but beautiful) brown. I am thinking there is some secret ingredient in the erthue scour I used to prep the linen with. Well my friends, more color to come next time, we hope.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin