San Antonio lecture 9/10/16 – The Color of Nature: Exploring Roots, Wood, Bugs, and Berries

22 Aug img_8277

Sponsored by the Friends of San Antonio Natural Areas – September 10th 10am – noon at Friedrich Wilderness Park classroom located at 21395 Milsa Rd. San Antonio, TX 78256

Explore the natural history of color while learning contemporary application techniques. This talk will include practical aspects such asbinding agents as well historic uses. Participants can view examples of the colors produced by Texas lichens, cactus tuna, cochineal, Texas agarita, and more! For centuries, people have used natural dyes using locally available plant, mineral and even insect sources. Today, choosing natural dyes over the chemical alternative is becoming more popular as we move toward more sustainable ways of living. This workshop is presented by Deb McClintock, local artist and textile designer. For more information, call (210) 207-3782, or email nicole.mcleod@sanantonio.gov. Suggested donation: $3 per person, or $6 per family.

Click here to make a reservation – donations are suggestion but not necessary, look for the September 10th lecture.  http://fosana.org/calendar/

 

 

Indigo & Indigo

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With overcast skies and lower temps (mid-80’s) it was time to tackle the garden and trim down the indigos. I had been down from some surgery and after a month recovery I actually have some energy to tackle the garden and try to catch up. Both the Japanese Indigo and the Indigo Suffruticosa have been playing nicely together in the prime bed.  The Suff can be a bully and shade out the JI. If my alternate indigo bed works out on the west side of the house my prime bed will go back to Japanese Indigo. In the meantime there is trimming to do. Here’s the start…


The cage is to keep the raccoons from digging for grubs around my Japanese Indigo.  I ended up with eight bundles of JI to dry.  These leaves will dry over the next week as our temps jump back up and be stored for more dried leaf dye experiments.

I used the shorter cuttings and trimmings to do some blender indigo. I couldn’t bear to let any indigo leaf go to waste!


I keep the JI leaves in iced water until I could get to them.  I then trimmed out my Indigo Suffrucitosa to put another batch into a soak.


That trimming  yielded about 1700 grams of leaves.  They’ve been tucked in a tall pot, given water and sat aside to soak a couple of days to free up the indigo from the leaves….rot it out!

There was another IS batch prepped this week and proved itself an indigo pot.  I added slaked lime and some solar ground madder root I had on hand to help reduce the pot, looking back at yesterday I tested some napkins and the pot proved ready to work.   Here’s yesterday’s results from Indigo Suffrucitosa reduced with rotten madder root with a ph kick of slaked lime.


Today I dipped a linen shirt I found in a Santa Fe thrift shop, it came out a great dark blue after two five minute dips and a hour oxidation between the dips.


Turning my attention back to the iced Japanese Indigo I popped it thru the blender and filtered it to keep the mashed leaves out of my dye bath.  I had an indigo shirt which had faded with washing so I wanted to freshen the color.  It will show as green but will shift to indigo blue slowly. It is another white shirt I picked up at a thrift store that needed a new life.


Finally, earlier this year I believe I posted my silk skeins that turned a mystery purple/lavender.  I popped those in the blender indigo to overdue the lavender to shift to the more traditional indigo blue.  Here’s the before & after!


These skeins might go into the IS pot with some other skeins from last year. Layering the blues makes them so rich! Or I might stop with this blue. It depends on how they level out after washing.

So….from my Indigo Suffrucitosa on the left I get the deep blue and on the right I get my Japanese Indigo green. It will slowly shift to the indigo blue we know. All of my materials are oxidizing now to strengthen the indigo bond and I will neutralize all with vinegar bath tomorrow so the slaked lime high ph will not weaken the goods.  A good day clearing the garden and catching up on some dyeing!

Lichen Dye Digital Resource

7 Jun

Since one is always looking for resources on lichen dyeing I felt obligated to share this link. http://www.umilta.net/LichenDyeingEMB.html

It came from this Facebook post….enjoy, if you don’t use natural dyes you will at least enjoy the illustrations.

3 days makes a difference!

28 May

Here is a comparison shot of my suffruticosa indigo Tuesday evening and 3 days later after sitting with a shot of fructose added. There be indigo! I am going to feed it again on Sunday, stir it up and add some pickling lime to see if I can get my indigo to strike some silk. 

After 3 days…

Where we started…I am happy to take suggestions from any indigo grandmother out there for alternative paths! Trying to avoid thio…

And here is my rigged anti skunk/raccoon or armadillo cage device to keep the critters from digging for grubs between my Japanese indigo & indigo suffruticosa! Evil creatures!

In the dye garden

25 May

Today was spent trimming and planting…

Trimmed back the indigo suffruticosa and put it in a fructose bath to sun soak, more to come on that…I already see blue, just need the sun to kick in.


Planted my Japanese indigo


We’ll see how the madder root & the indigo suffruticosa share space! 

Looking elsewhere in the garden my cota or Navajo Tea is struggling back after an irrigation line failure…

And my weld is almost ready to cut for yellow dyeing, it too suffered from irrigation line failure.

And finally the Texas Persimmons are coming on line! 

So with red (madder root), gold (persimmon), bright yellow (weld), orange (cota) and blue (indigos) how can I be bored at the dye pot this summer? I will be on the elusive search for a black by overdyeing some of these colors. Always a lesson in acceptance! 

Lecture for Master Gardeners – Roots, Wood, Bugs and Berries

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Sample plants from my garden & acreage for this afternoon’s lecture 



Master Gardener Association

Marble Falls Church of Christ 

3:00 on the 3rd Tuesday: May 17th 

Natural dyestuffs fall mainly into the following broad categories: Leaves and stems, twigs and tree prunings, flower heads, barks, roots, insect dyes, outer skins , hulls and husks, heartwoods and wood-shaving, berries and seeds and lichens. This is one of the breakdowns provided by Jenny Dean, a noted colorist in Craft of Natural Dyeing.
I will talk about how we get those colors to “bite” with mordants. We’ll consider how you use different “assists” to push the colors different directions such as vinegar, iron and even the impact the type of water used, rainwater versus well water, has on your colors. We’ll look back in time at what was used historically and talk about safety today. I’ll have some examples of the colors produced by cactus tuna, cochineal and Texas ball moss plus more. I won’t make a natural dye expert of you in one day but you will start looking at your garden plants in a new light. What color will your valley provide?

Madder root bed cleanup

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The first qtr of 2016 has been an amazing wet season. Plants & weeds have been very happy. The madder root bed took an unauthorized leap into adjoining garden beds.

 I tore out the top green foliage and did some pitchfork work to move pesky roots that ran along the irrigation line.


I was doing my best to ignore the red root glimmers but I succumbed and took time to separate out the roots that showed dye potential.

I pulled out the pitchfork and dug deeper. Even though they are not 3 year roots, I suspect I’ll get a decent salmon out of the root yield.


Roots are drying now and the bed is now clear for my indigo seedlings. I will report on the color obtained on silk using the “young”  madder root.

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