Archive | July, 2012

Diospyros texana – Texas persimmon revisited OR still searching for black

30 Jul

To be specific I am working with Diospyros texana Texas persimmon, Mexican persimmon, Black persimmon, Chapote, Chapote prieto member of the Ebenaceae (Ebony Family)

This is a different species from the eastern persimmon used in Japan, Korea or other Southeast Asian countries which is known as the kaki. This fruit has a long tradition of being used as a cloth dye for protective measures. Here is a great article on that cultural use, also known as galot.

But I digress, I am trying to use the same techniques with our Texas persimmon, same family, most definitely a different species. I am glad to be corrected by a botanist.

So far I’ve experimented with both the green and the ripe persimmon. I’ve experimented with increasing the PH, simmering the fruit and also aging the fruit. At this point it seems that the green fruit gives one a yellow toned color and the ripe fruit pushes towards golden brown. So far I have a 1 year old green vintage which I’ve tested with one dip. More to come on that one. I need to test with iron to see how that pushes towards black but last year’s experiment just gave me a golden brown. I am certainly getting a good variety of yellow, gold and amber colors. All will make great undertones for over dyeing. I just need to decide what to over dye them with….agarita, Japanese indigo, madder root, or lichen?

One can look at these colors for hours and convince oneself that these are yellow, but if one compares these skeins to the colors produces by cota, agarita and weld one can see how these persimmon colors are all heavily impacted by their tannin content. In other words, there are some beautiful browns, some with a yellow undertone but the brown (tannin) definitely shows.

Here are some other parts of the process:

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Ripe Persimmon with high PH

19 Jul

In process today, ripe persimmon with a tablespoon of soda ash added to kick up the PH. This skein will go thru the cold dye bath several times and oxidize in this nice warm sun. I’m still searching for that elusive black. No iron in this dye pot…..yet. I’ve set aside the seed and pulp to save for grinding for another dye pot. Next up is to overdye one of my Japanese Indigo skeins to test suitability for green shades.



Persimmon, Oak Bark & Agarita Root

14 Jul

The dye skeins are drying before I wash them, this will let the dye bond strengthen. Oak bark with 3 different modifiers on the left. Fresh persimmon in the middle and agarita with two different modifiers on the right. A nice collection of neutrals to over dye or use to push a brighter color in the warp.

One of those agarita skeins is bound for the fresh indigo pot today to see how the green looks with indigo over the agarita yellow.


Persimmon cooking recipe

12 Jul

Recipes! You know, we are harvesting enough green & ripe persimmons that I think I’ll try making jelly or wine. A good idea from a friend was to pulp the fruit and freeze it. Defrost when needed.


Texas Jelly Making

Texas Persimmon (Diospyros texana, Mexican Persimmon, Chapote ) is a very common shrub or tree here in Central, West, and South Texas. It can be found growing in thickets or mixed in with other trees in woodlands. It is very easy to spot with its smooth gray trunks and branches. There are male and female trees so there will only be fruit on the female trees. This makes finding fruit more challenging since you can’t assume that each tree will have fruit. Instead you have to wander around looking for the black fruit on the trees. Even then you will find only a few ripe fruit among the many green fruit. If you find a small tree you can pull off the fruit by hand. If the branches are too high or thick to bend down, you can put down a tarp and shake the branch. I tried…

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Persimmon size & vintage

9 Jul

I’ve posted photos of the size of the persimmons and some cross sections as they ripen. I have my 2011 vintage persimmon juice aging. The plan this year is to test the ripe persimmons immediately & after fermentation. The crop looks heavy enough that some will go to the indigo fructose pot also.


Vietnam side trip – weaving!

8 Jul

Ribbon yardage before cutting – Photo by Serena Harrigan – Textile Odyssey

Let’s swing over to Vietnam for a moment and take a break from the dye pot.  In January 2012 I visited northern Vietnam with Textile Odyssey Tours.   The looms, the people and the colorful ethnic clothing were fabulous.  I’ve posted some info in my trip journal.  Take a moment and glance at the simple looms used to create these colorful textiles.  Above are the Lo or Lao people showing me their yardage of ribbons.  The white stripes are the dividing lines that are used to cut the ribbons apart for placement in their skirts and jackets.  Enjoy!

Persimmon harvest begins

6 Jul

Well, the birds started early but I caught up with them before they took all the ripe persimmons. Over the next week I’ll work hard on sharing the dark purple fruit with my dye pot & the birds. Last year’s gold came from the green and purple blush fruit. This year I’ll experiment with the dark ripened fruit alone to test that color.


Long lost Weld returns after drought

1 Jul

I keep charts on where I plant seeds.  My garden area is only 4 years old.  The first two years were lost to deer before we fenced the area.  The past two years have suffered from severe drought.  So, sometimes seeds just don’t perform, at all.  The weld was a perfect example.  They were planted on the west side of the house, under an awning but still, the west side in the Texas Hill country is HOT.   So I gave them up as casualties to the heat.

As we worked the garden terraces I realized one irrigation line wasn’t working correctly.  Once that was fixed, to my surprise, the weld made an appearance!  Sweet, they were just thirsty!

I listened to the folks who said don’t bother with the large stalks, not enough color in them to make it worth it and set the stalks aside.  However, once they dried they are just right for weaving pirns, hollow and easy to cut.  More to come on that!

So here are the results of my first year of weld using the flower and seed portion.  I harvested and dyed with the seeds fresh around June 1st before the heat cranked up.  We were also battling katydid infestation and it was apparent I was going to lose the leaves if I waited much longer.  I have dried the leaves and the small leaf stalks and have set them aside to try later.  I could not resist trying one of my Japanese Indigo blue skeins in the weld.  The results was a lovely green.  It is interesting to note that the wool, the first dye bath, was a vibrant yellow.  The silk, which followed the wool, was a slightly less vibrant yellow, still nice but not as clear.  I am curious when I use the leaves if I will get the same difference, BUT the silk will go first in the dye bath on the next round.

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