Tag Archives: osage

Natural Dyeing

24 Mar

catharine ellisLast week I took an intense 3-day workshop with Catharine Ellis on natural dyeing.

My good-to in the past has been black walnut because it’s readily available and relatively easy. I love black walnut. But I also love color and so wanted to be able to get a few intense colors from plants–and before I say anything else–

Just Look. The samples are arranged by fibers–first column is wool, second is cotton, and third is silk. The first row on each sheet is simply the fiber dyed in the color. The second row is the fiber first dyed in indigo and them overdyed with each color. The third row shows what a teeny bit of iron does to the original color–and the last row is experimental. The dye sources we used were osage, cutch, lac, pomegranate, weld, madder and indigo.

So–osage ¬†first:

DSC02493

 

 

Then Cutch

DSC02494

 

 

Lac

DSC02495

 

Madder

DSC02496

 

Weld

DSC02497

 

Pomegranate

DSC02499

The indigo vat we made was based on Michel Garcia’s 1-2-3 formula and it worked. (I’ve tried it before myself with no success–but now I’m a believer.)

So I’m sitting here 3 days later still reeling from the amount of information–technical and otherwise–that we were exposed to. And following directions, being methodical, documenting process and result–well, those are not my strong suits. I rarely follow a recipe. Most times when I begin something, I do so because I have to–not because I really know where it’s going. And now I know why I’ve never been able to liven up my dye palette. It’s simple. I wasn’t doing it right.

And then there’s this. It’s spring here. We’re able to see what vegetation/plants await our appreciation since having moved in in the winter, we had no idea. DSC02489DSC02492

Lots of–well, landscaping specimens. Shrubs and bulbs. And yes, of course, I’m glad to see them. But there will not be a regular garden here, I don’t think. At least certainly not this year. Containers probably. Too many deer. Plain and simple. Still, we had to cut down a tree in the front yard–an ornamental pear tree badly damaged. Part of it had already fallen on the roof and did a bit of damage. And because it was so close to the house and rotten in the crotch (unfortunate wording perhaps) it came down. So now in the yard we have a very large circular mulchy area free of the surrounding bermuda grass. And it’s going to become a dyer’s garden. Yesterday I ordered seed from a place in Maine–Fedco–and hopeful that deer won’t like the dye plants. Marigold I know will be safe.

%d bloggers like this: