Alchemy in the pantry


It all began 423 days ago.

I gathered together these assorted fabric scraps [once all white] and without pre-mordanting,
rolled, bundled, squeezed and cajoled them into glass jars along with pieces of metal
and handfuls of vegetation.
Following the protocol within this little gem of a book,

I began a very  LONG  and interesting canning experiment ...
not only an experiment in patience [wasn't sure I could wait this long for the reveal!]
but in the science - and art - of preserving.

What would grandma say?
Go peek at what these jars looked like when I first put them on the pantry shelf
February 4, 2014 ...
over here

This is what they looked like right before I opened them two days ago.
The liquid had long since turned almost black.  They each contained iron bits 
so that made sense, but I wondered if I'd made a mistake & added too much.
Also, two of the jars had slightly rounded lid tops ...
were the contents rotting, or worse - putrefying into some gads-awful mess?

I need not have worried. And I should certainly know by now
that India speaks true words when she repeats, "Trust the process."

I flung them on the rosebushes in the hedgerow to dry.
There's often great changes between wet and dry so the short wait
to see that happen was almost worse than the entire previous year's wait.

Here they are dried and pressed.

Front & back views of 60/40 cotton/silk blouse remnant,
bundled with rose leaves & metal bolts
with 1/4 c. aged copper/vinegar modifier added to the jar.
[above on far right]

What amazes me: true spring green leaf prints, the smokey black-on-black tones
from the string marks, and that the liquid from the jar smelled faintly of rose petals.

Scraps of two cotton shirts each bundled with dry purple Norway maple leaves
and metal bits - nails & screws - with additional leaves packed around the edge of the glass.
The jar was then filled with leftover - very stinky - lobster mushroom dye bath.
[jar above in middle]

What amazes me: although the jar lid was "puffed up" there was nothing growing inside ...
no bacteria, algae etc. and the smell of lobsters had almost completely disappeared,
replaced by an earthy scent; the cuff, which took color like a sponge.

I've left my favorite jar for last ... although in my earlier post I forgot about
this linen hankie entirely because I stuffed it down the side of the jar
at the last minute as there was plenty of room left
next to the ripped up linen shirt jacket.
[jar above on left]

As for my favorite - the jacket piece - iron bolts
went into the jar bottom, then the cloth was bundled
with purple-black violas, madrone bark & 4 rusty landscape pegs.
Taking a precious cue from the book, I sprinkled a teaspoon of fireplace ash
into the mix.

What amazes me: navy blues from the violas, strong distinct graphics, heavy
saturation of color.  This is a very dense linen that was not pre-mordanted and I venture
to say with a great deal of certainty that I would not have been able to
achieve this result with a one hour boil-up and a bundle opening 3 days later ...

Alchemy in the pantry.  I am smitten.

: : :

There's a wealth of jars awaiting their openings over in India's virtual pantry ...
see everyone's experiments there
Click on 'The pantry' to view the collection.

So, WHO is next?
I'm so excited for the reveals!

Have been kicking myself that I didn't experiment with whole items of clothing
for although the wait was definitely worth it, the 'time price' we pay is quite hefty
and may as well yield more of a product than a torn sleeve & a color swatch, wouldn't you say.

Ah well.  Live & learn.  All valuable, all good.

But ... I'm off soon to find some large pickle jars!