September 23, 2012

Abundance, of sorts...



Our merry band of dyers reconvened, armed with the bounty of the season...
solidago (goldenrod), spent blooms of deep purple hollyhocks,
madrone bark, perennial sunflowers,
the last of the red carrot tops,
and a sumptuous, aromatic pile of wild blackberries.


Cooked to (hopefully) perfection.


Finally, I was able to attain two of my favorite colors on the same cloth...sage green
and purple.

I almost fell into a swoon.

Of particular interest was the mottling effect caused by
the resist marks of the blackberry seeds.



As it happens, I am nearing the end of this very good read...
along with the "heroine" of the story.
Nearing her end, that is.



After finishing Ahab's Wife (also penned by Naslund), I was craving more by this author
and although I have not been quite as captivated throughout this one,
it has been a fascinating walk through the decadence and royal life of 1700's France nonetheless.



I don't know what has happened to me.
I hated Chemistry in school and never before have I been attracted to *historical* books,
even fictional ones.
Now, I seem to be quite obsessed with both.
I found myself pre-mixing a copper mordant 
to see if the carrot top bath would become an enhanced shade of green,
and today I'm contemplating the best method to perform lightfastness strip tests 
on the cloth life of a blackberry!
When I gaze at this portrait of Marie Antoinette, I barely notice its finer attributes
such as the delicately honed lace detail or the luminous quality of the skin.
Instead, when I look at this scrumptious painting
painted by Her Majesty's most beloved court painter , Elizabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun, 
in 1783,
I wonder about the color source for the blue dye of that silk dress...




September 14, 2012

Navigation: bundle #4


Looks like a dirty old rag.
If you walked by it on the street, you wouldn't stop to pick it up...


if you saw it laying on a park bench,
you probably wouldn't want to sit next to it....
even if you knew there were red rose petals stuffed inside
or that it was a delicately edged vintage napkin hiding under all that *grime*.

Strange things can happen during a two-day eucalyptus and iron soak...



Heavy linen seems to love being pre-mordanted with ash water.
Oh, what a learning curve all this trial & error has been....is....
every cloth becomes another building block towards understanding.  There are moments
when it all feels uphill and quite arduous,
and
very labor intensive.



Thank goodness for important reminders.

Just

keep

going.


: : :





September 11, 2012

Navigation: bundle #3



After a certain amount of bundling, you start to look for signs...
any kind of indication that something is brewing inside.
That green there in the center?
That's a promise waiting to be exposed.



Silk organza,
a few square chips of copper sheeting, some sprigs of purple Salvia 'Caradonna' 
and a handful of fresh salal leaves (Gaultheria shalon), wrapped around a small can
and simmered in a bath of red-leaved berberis for about an hour,
then left to air dry for - you guessed it - three weeks...



Do you see the imprint of the salal leaf there on the top half, about center?
Not one iota of color to be found!
Now, India says that  everything  gives color, one way or the other,
but so far (and after four tries) salal is my nemesis.
Known for its medicinal qualities, it can be prepared as a tincture or tea
and used as a poultice for insect bites & stings...
but as a dye plant...

meh.

What to try next...
perhaps soaking the leaves in vinegar first?
Sing them a lullaby?  Beg on bended knee?
There might be a wee gift in it for anyone reading who can provide the secret...