Tuesday, October 16, 2012

walnut magic

The dye pot was waiting for us when we arrived to class. Three days old, filled with simmering walnuts and remnants from dye attempts past. Thick and almost sirupy, ready for the magic to begin.

The walnut pot was of course only one part of the enchantment taking place during the two day long botanical alchemy workshop in Cleveland with dye master and artist extraordinaire India Flint. The class was expertly arranged and organized by Christine Mauersberger, who besides making sure we were well fed and equipped also shared her own useful insights and beautiful stitching. All of my fellow class mates where so talented and energetic. They generously exchanged knowledge, fabric swatches, and plant materials.

My work space.

Walnut marks.

And then there was Ms. India, who made the two days whisk by with lightning speed, while still making sure all of us accomplished many, many things. We learned to wrap cloth directly around the fresh walnuts for amazing colorful patterns. We learned to play with  metal scraps, iron potions, milk paint, and tangerine juice. Her wonderful teachings were carried out with grace, patience, and a great sense of humor.

Magical hands.

The last day we were assigned to make a special piece. Starting out with white on white, layers of cloth stitched together, embellished with thread, fabric scraps, and stitches, lots of stitches, before ending up in the dye bath. The purpose was to create a personal companion piece, that would continue to be enhanced by dye and stitch over time. I am thrilled with the outcome and I will carry my piece along as a reminder of friendship, camaraderie, and the pure joy of making art.

My special piece.

While in Cleveland I also discovered the beautifully curated art museum, the botanical garden, and a great little exhibit of India Flint and Susan Gaylord's work tucked into the midst of the residential neighborhood of Cleveland Heights. And I got to reunite with a wonderful friend from the past. Happy times to be had by all.

Eco printed repurposed book pages by India Flint. © India Flint

Eco printed vintage kimono by India Flint. © India Flint

Spirit book by Susan Gaylord. © Susan Gaylord


  1. Great textures and patterns. Great photos, thanks for sharing.

  2. How things so simple and common like nuts are able to create so many textures in a white sheet...thanks for sharing those experiments!

  3. I love your results. beautiful pieces. I love the idea of a cloth that will grow in time by stitching and dyeing.

  4. beautiful! I hope I get an opportunity to meet India one day. Her book, Ecocolour has set me on new creative adventures.

  5. Swooning over your most wondrous walnut dyed fabrics.

  6. Well, I would sure be over-the-moon if those were my pieces, Lotta ~ SPLENDID.

  7. Wow!
    What a magical time you all had, I'm out to purchase walnuts tomorrow, cant wait for my experimentations to begin.
    Thank you so much for sharing Lotta.

  8. Wow!
    Amazing adventures you all seemed to have had. I'm out to purchase walnuts tomorrow and experiment myself!
    Thanks for sharing Lotta.

  9. Thank you for your wonderful comments. It truly was a great time. Therese, the walnuts we used were the fresh ones with green hulls. I am not sure you if you can get them where you are. I also don't know if the tan ones with just the inner shell and the nut will give any color - it may still be worth a try.

  10. lovely report...thanks lotta. in my experience all of the black walnut has magic: warm brown, inner, outer. the longer it waits the yummier it gets. my vat is years old now.

  11. How wonderful! I love all of your images and descriptions. Your special piece is wonderful and I love the idea of it changing over the years - being added to and dyed over. Beautiful.

    And, of course, Susan's Spirit Book!

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Oh how lucky.. time with India... I'll have to save my pennies.

  13. wondrous walnuts, indeed..a special piece of note..and such many glowing pix and phrases..lovely.

  14. Hi again Lotta,

    I believe we do have English walnut trees, but I'm not lucky enough to know anyone personally to share the delicous green hulled variety. So like Velma suggested I will try with the "brown" ones and see if magic happens!

  15. Så kul att läsa din blogg. En undran: På FB visar du hur du lägger järnskrot i vinäger. Varför? För att få igång rostningsprocessen? Har hittat en kurs med India Flint i Scotland nästa sommar, anmäler mig nog redan nu!


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