Tag Archives: natural dyeing

Warrior Women: prayer flag #11

4 Feb

This morning I’m thinking about a warrior woman–one woman in particular–a scrappy keeper-of-goats living in the harsh yet beautiful desert of the SW.    Not a place for the weak of body or spirit.  I’m joining her this morning in solidarity, vowing to take back what I’ve been relinquishing–stepping out of this small, spiteful drama and reclaiming, to the degree that I can–a sense of perspective–a sense of how it goes.  Viewing the big screen in high definition.onewomancu

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This warrior woman was part of a weaving exercise using a little box as the loom.  She stands on cloth dyed with black walnuts.  Mounted on fabric mordanted with sumac.  Her head is one half of a sampler I made while practicing slow cloth with Jude Hill.  And yes, Jude Hill is a warrior as well.  As was my mother.   As is my daughter.  My sister, friends cousins and nieces.  This is for you.

The History of Color: Himalayan Rhubarb and Yellow Onions

8 Apr

Himalayan Rhubarb:   a traditional natural dye from the Himalayan  mountains between India and Bhutan.  The plant grows in altitudes from 3-5000 meters and yields a deep golden yellow color with an alum mordant.  Shifts in pH will create more yellow or nearly brick red colors.  The dye is aromatic and earthy smelling .

Color amazes me.  Amazes me for several reasons.  The least of which is simply that I often take it for granted. But my sojourn into natural dye  has opened my eyes to both the significance and history of color.  To put this into perspective, just think– this country, the United States, has a history of a few hundred years. Whereas the color yellow has roots dating back to  the caves of Lascaux where we find  a yellow horse estimated to be 17,300 years old.  To say it again, I’m amazed by color.

I’m intrigued that thousands of years ago, people discovered the value of plant stuff–both as medicine and as color sources.   And since I’m also intrigued by most things Tibetan, it’s no surprise that when I came across Himalayan Rhubarb, I was compelled to try it out.

In her classic compilation, Wild Color, Jenny Dean says that “In Himalayan regions, species of rhubarb are particularly valued for their contribution to the dye pot. In parts of Tibet and Ladakh, and among Tibetan refugees in Nepal, rhubarb root is the most common source of yellow dye, and species of rhubarb have long been sought after locally. The roots are dried, chopped up, and ground into powder before use, and give strong, fast shades of yellow, gold, and orange.”

So here:  experiments with Himalayan Rhubarb–the left is a lousy image–in real life the yellow is very rich.  And the color on the right–HR with a modified PH–in otherwords, I added washing soda to the water and this is what happened.  Can’t you see why I love this so much!

And the significance of colors in Tibet?  Yellow:  Yellow symbolizes rootedness and renunciation. Buddha Ratnasambhava is associated with yellow. The nose is represented by this color. Earth is the element that accompanies the color yellow. Yellow transforms pride into wisdom of sameness when visualized in meditation.

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I had so wanted this garment to be Himalayan Rhubarb.  It’s not.  This yellow comes from onion skin.  Another powerful source for symbolizing rootedness and renunciation.

Eco printing and Color in Carolina

28 Mar

Seems like the seasons are flattening out–one leading into the other w/o much transition or distinction.  But it’s spring now and color is back on this soil’s palette.  Now–if I were more literate technically you could already be viewing the mother of all forsythias.

But I’m not.  Not quite illiterate but nearly and it’s driving me nuts.  Like just now, I tried to download pics from phone to pc.  PC didn’t recognize iphone so I had to send each image as an email to my desktop.  Then I tried to save them to insert here and they’re off on some g-drive.  I found them and can look at them but that’s it.  No idea how to move them here because wordpress doesn’t support their current format.  Do I sound frustrated.  Back in a bit.

Okay. Had different options this time.

Now look at this–while trying to upload pics of the redbud, weld and woad, dogs’ morning-sniff-about I stumbled upon this option.  A slide show.  Does it work?  Too tedious?

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Forsythia is about 25′ in width.  Image does not convey the sunshine she emits. The single rosette green plant is weld–traditional plant for yellow.  When I eco print with it, though, it leaves a wonderful green image.  The other greens are woad–similar to indigo in the way it has to be processed to give up its color.

So what I’m loving about eco printing–in addition to its beauty–is the fact that the materials I need for working with it are simply a step out the front door.  I try really hard only to use foraged material–stuff that’s already fallen from the tree or plant.  Recycling energy.  I’m also intrigued by the notion of slow color–of letting botanicals brew for however long–but truth be told, I’m not good at waiting so generally use steam to facilitate the process.

Where I was leading with this is the fact that eco printing/natural dyeing has brought home to me the adverse impact commercially dyed fabric has on the environment.   And along those same lines I’m doing somewhat of an experiment.  Trying to see if I can go an entire year w/o buying anything  new–even if it comes from Goodwill.  And I’m upcycling garments that I haven’t worn in a few years–a dress and a shirt.  Big pockets on the front–essential for all the stuff I seem to gather in a day’s time.

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and this –a coat I made during the winter by felting wool from old sweaters. Repurposed, recycled, reused.  Another R word is trying to surface–two actually.  Returning and roots. As in an idea I may blog about later.

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That’s it for now.  And please may I get faster at blogging.

Oh wait–a fine green eco print that came about from light indigo over dyed with goldenrod.

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and if you’re so inclined–check out:  www.thelanguageofleaves.com

Ecoprinting, Natural Dyeing, and the Love of Leaves

30 Sep

Been gone so long I won’t try to backtrack.  Just enough to say I’ve turned into an ecoprinting maniac…

My last post–August 10–captured an experiment.  There have been many in the interim.  Many flops and  enough success to keep me hooked.  But I’m better at turning the uglies into o.k. images.

Too much has happened in six weeks.  Too much to say. Too much to blather on about. Better to just let the pictures reveal the moments, for now.

But just one thing–thank you to Cynthia–and Marti.  Grace.  And Liz.

My head has been in the trees.  And I have been in the forest.

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Natural Dye Workshop

with Dede Styles (in blue)–an amazing, amazing woman

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Yellows from fall asters, broom sedge and black oak bark.

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Celebrating Logan’s 9th birth

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and a pic he took yesterday

Mostly close-ups of some ecoprints on silk

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And on Sept. 19th we had an amazing collaborative fiber/tea sale–with

…Sumitra–purveyor of fine teas–

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…Sister Jennifer the Weaver.

…Heather from Scotland…a fine, fine artist…with some of her t’s.

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…my first born…Emily with some of her many creations

…and me…holding blue

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Finally– today’s sky…

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with last week’s indigo.

If you’ve taken the time to gaze here, thank you.  A big, big thank you.  Sorry some of the images won’t open larger–and there seem to be some crossed wires embedded in this posting itself…but the cauldron calls….

Eco Dyeing with “Clotho” and Khaos”

15 Jun

When I first moved here four years ago, I left a 93 acre WV mountain farm. Had lived there 15 years or so. Of course it was a huge change and there have been trade-offs. And once here, it was clear that cloth was calling out to me.   I didn’t  know why, But just now, looking for the name of the Greek mythological figure that emerged from the very slow cloth, I found the answer. There she was. There she has been. Clotho. “The youngest of the Three Fates who spin the thread of life.” I’ve been seduced by Clotho.

And then Jude Hill http://spiritcloth.typepad.com serendipitously appeared and between her influence and the guidance of Clotho, this journey with cloth has been an amazing series of discoveries. A delving into. Into self. Into life. And maybe most importantly, a medium for maintaining a connection with the earth.

But first the very slow cloth is nearing completion. Khaos, Greek for “the nothingness from which all sprang.”

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OK.  For the last three weeks I have been totally immersed in natural dyeing.  Dyeing utilizing vegetation in my surrounds.  And there is a ton of it here–vegetation–and not just quantity but the varieties are staggering.  So a lot of interesting cloth has emerged.  Some pretty ugly–and some really interesting.  I think I’m finally starting to understand on a very beginner’s level what steps to take to encourage cloth to accept color.   Wool is a protein fiber.  Much more receptive to color from the earth.  Silk is a hybrid of sorts.  And cotton/muslin/linen–well it really has to be encouraged.

I love muslin.  I love linen–especially old linen garments that have become thinner and softer over the years.  Two of my oldest and favorite linen shirts seemed to be begging for an update.  Shirts were soaked in vinegar overnight and then bundled up with peony leaves, yellow onion skin, purple basil that’s growing all over the place here, and a few mulberry leaves.

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Close up
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A few more peony leaves on linen:
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And my favorites. Leaves on Muslin.

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Now silk is another story all together. I bought several habotai silk scarves from Dharma Trading and have printed 5. Have 5 to go. If the results continue to improve I’m hoping to sell them either online or in a shop somewhere.

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Unexpected joys are resulting from this exercise in eco printing. Yesterday a little plant called to me over and over again. Finally I referenced my 1968 Peterson Field Guide to discover it was Heal-All or Selfheal.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunella_vulgaris

And so
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Weld and Woad in the dye garden are starting to grow. The madder is taking it’s good time which doesn’t surprise me. Roots need to be at least 5 years old before they can be used. Marigolds doing great.
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And finally, reminder to self. Don’t wait so long to post. Too much happens in between.

Evolution, Origins and Shadows: The Journey of a Very Slow Cloth

26 May

So. This slow cloth which has taken so long–finally letting me know what it is. It began as an exercise. An assemblage of cloth scraps that I love. Scraps I had dyed in all different mediums–but had been boxed up since the move. And then because at the time I was using the machine a lot, the whole cloth experienced a free motion application of thread. And then more thread–hand stitched color defining shape. Pulling out content. Giving meaning too.

And even though the bottom 2/3 of the cloth had the appearance of otherworldly abodes–waters and oceans and primordial habitats–and even though the top 1/3 seemed to emerge into a more celestial realm, the story was still evolving. And it became clear, as so often happens, by stitch. Not good stitch especially, but stitch that was applied un-mindfully–and because there was so much of it, I simply had to cover it up. The scraps at hand took shape on their own..and became this being embracing spheres–of life–balanced– Balanced and grounded .  Grounded but still needing to respond to the moment.  Fine-tune as events change.  Move a bit one way or the other.  Perched and balanced with the ability to respond.

And still very connected to the origin from which it arose. The underbelly of consciousness. The deep. The abode of all creativity, energy, understanding and mystery.   The unknown.   There are two spirits wanting to emerge–down in the bottom left and right corner of the cloth.  I’m waiting for them to emerge–and then the cloth will be complete.

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Shadows and Dyeing with Dandelion

16 May

OK. Shadows. Thinking about shadows. How shadows create dimension. Form. Meaning. How shadows can’t exist without light–whether it’s the light of the sun or the light of consciousness directed inward–casting light into those interior spaces that can be easily ignored–for a while at least. The shadow side. Rich with the stuff that has to be reckoned with. Acknowledged. Polished. Burnished. Cleaned up/recycled and/or discarded. All of that–but not ignored–at least not w/out paying a price.

The shadow side. Here’s an admission. For a long time I pretended I didn’t have a shadow side. And I smile now with this confession. Then later, I struggled against it–for a LONG time. And now? Let’s just say and it’s much easier to welcome than to resist. And funny how the welcoming diffuses its power.

I’m wondering why I’m even talking about this now. So I may or may not leave the first two paragraphs since I really intended to talk about shadows in terms of–photographing baskowls. Most of my pics have them looking like flat saucers. And although my frustration in the past has centered on getting the color right, there was ALWAYS the other issue of depth. How to show depth. And as I write that word–depth–I’m so drawn back to my first thoughts. How our shadow sides can also be equated with depth. Bowls and souls. And shadows.

Again, I had no intention of going here. So I’m stopping right now. But wondering, do these images help? Do the shadows help give a sense of depth and dimension? And the dinner plate? Does it help?

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And some dandelion dyeing going on here. Not a huge fan of yellow–but a fan of color–and always a fan of the alchemy that happens. Expected or not. So, dandelions, red onion skins, peony leaves–old damask soaked in vinegar for a few minutes, wrapped and left overnight.

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