Caught, red-handed ...


Looks like a heist from the florist or botanic garden, doesn't it?
It was a group effort of the very best kind and was transformed into

THIS ...

our first dye day of the summer and it was a BIG one for our merry band who were
practically chomping on their tongs with anticipation ... three separate baths were on hand, 
each with the promise of good, strong color:

onion skins,
and  lac.

Trying to be somewhat disciplined with our exuberance, we gathered into a circle to get some working
facts about what was in store.  I spoke a bit about lac
and then Sheila taught us about the blues.  Indigo was simpler than I'd imagined,
especially from the kit we used,
and seems to have everything to do with air  ~  in the vat and out of it.

Was my first time out of the chutes [so to speak] with this color and already
I can see how people become addicted.
If only I'd made videos while watching everyones color transformations happening
including my own ...
I was astonished!
No wonder everyone calls it 

Just showing a couple of my shibori snippets at the moment [more to come later],
since most the gals read my blog and I don't want to give away all of what I did quite yet ...
saving that for our in-person "reveal" get-together in August.

But I digress ...

Yours truly was the instigator of the lac pot.  Red from bugs - the bugs that provide shellac.
Similar to cochineal, yet different insectivorous origins and with deeper tones - closer to 
burgundy wine or the juice of roasted beets. 
I thought after all this time of using local materials as our primary color source
it might be fun to try something DRAMATIC, from farther afield.
But I confess ... while processing the powder I felt an odd disconnect [for lack of a better word].
My rational mind knew this was a "natural" dye,
yet there was something so unnatural about using this color that came from 

Still, there's no denying my appreciation for these patterns and imprints
[thanks to alum mordant on the cottons & linens] ... and I can see
my purple pansies here [blue from the alum] and the skins from the local grocery.

It was mentioned recently that someone remarked 
that all naturally dyed fabric "looks the same."
I think I must beg to differ with that comment.

The dregs of the lac bath came home with me and the following day I continued on with 
a few more experiments.  The bath looked strong in the pot, but in actuality it was quite exhausted
and had swung to a decidedly plummy range of tones ...
all that iron in our bundles definitely changed the pH.

Can't say I mind it.

: : :

Visit the online store at Long Ridge Farm for Nancy's supply of Lac extract from India

If you're a mite skittish about processing the extract yourself, 
Aurora Silks has a [much more expensive] ready-to-go powder from China

We used a Pre-Reduced Indigo Kit from Pro-Chem


  1. Well isn't this just a blast! Now we're talking Robin colors - indigo, plum, cranberry. Love the black rings on the "exhausted lac" snippet, love the use of local flowers and onion skins, love the lac, no matter how far it travels to get to us. Special thanks for the links to the suppliers for both indigo and lac.

    1. Yes indeed, your BRIGHT colors, Robin ~ so happy you were with us!!

  2. gorgeous images. i have not gotten into indigo dyeing but it is oh so tempting. that first image looks like a picnic of sorts. such wonderful results.

  3. Really nice color! Wish I could have been there. By the way, from where are you purchasing the indigo? I have bought from Aurora and wonder whether Maiwa is better/same? or other resource?? Thanks- Christine

    1. The link for the indigo "kit" we used is just above, Christine. Super easy to prep. Have never done indigo before so I have no idea if it's better or worse than others ....

  4. Beautiful... love the tired vat colors, rather cool and elegant.

  5. Oh you got just beautiful color!!! Stunning.

  6. I love this post! Thank you for taking the time to share your words and photos.

  7. ...not entirely sure you really need a visit from me BUT i sure am glad i'm invited [just try and stop me now!] :)

    1. We need you more than we can say, dear India, we are but babes with these cauldrons ;>]]
      And we are practically counting the hours now ... !

  8. wow. gorgeous stuff. it makes me think of our pending collab ... have you ever tried dying papers before?

  9. What fun!!! I'd have loved to have seen your hands after this day, or do you wear gloves?

    1. Gloves for the indigo, Penny, definitely. But didn't need them for the lac [am not that fussy - you should see the state of my everyday hands!]

  10. Ooh, how lovely! I've been meaning to try some natural dyeing for so long. This year I'm growing some plants with a view to getting started maybe this year, maybe next - I have a lot to learn about when they plants are ready to use, and all the other stuff like mordants. But your photos really make me want to do it - soon!

  11. I wandered into this site...fascinating! Looks like a wonderful combination of hard work and great fun...I will return. Magic indeed!

  12. THANK YOU to all of you ... for your visits and for such nice comments!
    I love that maybe I have inspired a few to dip into the dye pots & create some magic of your own. It is so rewarding and there is nothing in the world quite like stitching on fabric that one has dyed through ones own efforts - in a gentle, kind-to-the-earth [and to ourselves] way.

  13. love your blog! nice to see local activity of this sort.. i'm in auburn, wa

    i have a question: do you have any info about sourcing eucalyptus? got some at michael's but would love to find a better resource ... thank you for sharing your fun!


    1. Thanks for the visit & kind words, Jeanne.
      Nope, on the euc, not a clue - our group uses primarily the stuff we grow. How about a florist? They often have the 'silver dollar' variety on hand. Sorry I can't be of more help.