Search results for 'Black'

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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No black yet

18 Aug

Well, I got some nice tannin golds from the persimmon. I used a bit of iron with one skein. They are displayed on top of a southern Lao cotton blanket. These skeins are destined to be over dyed with drought lichen to see what other color combinations lurk here in my valley.

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Going for brown or black!

18 Aug

Here’s the preliminary silk color on the right from the search for persimmon black. Can it happen?

 

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Soaking persimmons so they can be crushed

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Fermenting persimmons for the color

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Colors on silk blank and on silk yarn skein, worth the ferment!

 

Time to harvest Suffruticosa seeds & dry leaves

14 Nov

It’s November here in the Texas Hill Country. Temps are dropping and the days are shorter. My Indigofera Suffruticosa has bloomed and the seed pods are turning brown. Time for harvesting seed pods before the winds come.

Slowly they turn brown despite the grasshopper threat.

I trim the tops off that are heavy with seed. The leaves are dried in a herb dryer under shelter. The seed stalks are left in a wheelbarrow to ripen & dry.

Dried IS leaves
Drying on the stem after leaves harvested for drying

The seeds continue to ripen on the stalk until brown/black & the pods split until the seeds peak out at you.

Seed pods are dry & splitting

So now I wait and let the Indigofera Suffruticosa pods continue to dry. Jan/Feb I will have a grand seed stomp and separate chaff from seed for sale. These seed pods will continue to dry in their wheelbarrow. The seeds will be much easier to separate the more patient I am with the drying process.

Need to pull out stems

And now, back outside to continue the harvest before the wind & rains come. It is a different game once the weather shifts.

Elder care vs Dyepot

17 Sep

So many things on deck but I have to wait to finish them. Mom fractured her hip last Thursday and I have definitely been redirected in my explorations & write up of results. But as I sit here in the elder care eddy of life I thought I’d post pictures of what is in the pipeline and will get written about.

My effort for black without iron gave me some promising directions…the skeins wait patiently.

My time poring thru John Marshall’s library gave me more info on pulling the yellows early from a madder root bath. The roots & rice are having a party in my absence in the sun. Note my drawstring color.

My experiments at John’s indigo explorations with dried Japanese indigo leaves, fructose and lime gave me the green blue one gets from blender indigo.

Finally my pull from the Indigofera Suffruticosa waits patiently. Hopefully it is separating as we wait.

I am remembering why drying indigo leaves was so attractive to me. I pick, dry and hold them for when I have time to play.

Off to mom stuff.

Indigofera Suffruticosa Seed harvest

13 Dec

As the growing season winds down and winds and freezes become more frequent one begins to harvest the remaining leaves from the freezes and check the seed harvest status.  Like little bunches of bananas the indigo seed pods darken from green to brown to black and start to reveal glimpses of tiny black seed pods.

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I usually cut back my indigo after the first freezes so that the branches don’t break in the winter winds.  I leave some up for the migrating hummingbirds to use in the late winter for observation perches.  The stems that hold the seed pods are tough.  It is easier to pull them off the same time you harvest the remaining indigo leaves before the “winter” trim.  One runs the odds of leaving leaves on the branches against the odds of a wet week that will soak seed pods and frozen leaves.  The weather forecast becomes a thing of great interest!  But the longer one leaves the seed pods on, the better they ripen and are easier to harvest.

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You can see in the photo below the “not quite ripe” against the “bursting and fling the seed out” pods.  Greenish versus brown/black finishes give you the signal.  Hence the wait for ripening against the rain gamble.

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Usually I process in stages, cut some branches, strip out the seed pods and the frozen leaves, set the pods aside, finish up the leaf processing and let the pods continue to dry out.  They are easier to process when dry.  A bit of my leaf harvest is written about in this blog entry.

Below you see my processing station of the dried seeds in my red garden holding bucket.   My winnowing silver bowl, my two kitchen strainers with appropriate hole size, a trash bucket for hulls and my faithful molcajete for breaking the pods for seed extraction.  img_1261

When the pods are dry they crack much easier when pressure is lightly applied by the molcajete grinding stone to break the bond.

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The lightly crushed pods are put thru the two sieve process and manually stirred to release the seeds.  Husks go into the black bucket for one last look for more seeds.

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The seed harvest is set aside to winnow in the winds to cull out the smaller husks and chaff.  If you pick over your starting seed pods and cull the green immature pods your final effort will result in a good seed harvest for next year’s use.  This is not a high tech process, just time and patience that gets you in position for next year’s planting.

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End of Season Indigo Chores

25 Oct

We have frost in our Hill Country weather forecast this weekend. With my recent back surgery I can’t go into physical overdrive but with my husband’s help I can pull in both indigo species seeds for drying and trim some Indigo Suffruticosa leaves to dry.

The Japanese Indigo seeds below are set out to dry before separating from blooms. There is another leaf bed to harvest but I am saving those for a John Marshall study group project. Hopefully, the freeze is just a forecast not a reality.

Above are the banana shaped Indigo Suffrucitosa seed pods. See the black seeds peeking at you?

And finally the leaf stripping station. Truly high tech, I strip the leaves off the stems. Easier now rather than later. The fresh leaves will be weighed and after drying I’ll weigh the yield. Like that back brace? It will be my friend for the next 90 days while my bone grafts heal. Oh goodie.

This batch will go into my leaf drying mesh bag and left out for a couple of days. By then the bugs will decamp and I can transfer the batches to rubber tubs for long term drying indoors.

These tubs show dried batches from earlier this year. All are Indigo Suffrucitosa except the lower right hand which is Japanese Indigo.

In the end the process is easy to fit into my lifestream and I can focus on growing the indigos, dry them and run dye pots later. Its all about focus at the proper time. I’ve been collecting quantity stats to see what amount of color I can expect each season. The indigo left on my plants today will probably be my freeze dry stash for the year. We trimmed the plants for the winds so here’s hoping for a dry hard freeze when old man winter does hit.

Here is a photo from last year’s freeze dry experiment. It worked! 100 grams yielded this color on 340 grams of silk. Granted it is not a dark blue but I am testing the process for my Indigo Suffruticosa that works for dried Japanese Indigo. It worked well enough that next time I am cranking up the dry leaf quantity to see how blue I can go with dried indigo, more words on that in another blog entry. And of course, these skeins will go in to get darker.

In the larger scheme of dye life it is about what colors you can grow, the easiest process to use what one harvests and how to get darker colors and fitting it into your daily rhythm. We do it because we can. Enjoy your harvest.

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! 

Dyers’ Fall Chores

24 Oct

In Texas we have finally gotten back to sane fall temps of 80 degrees. The garden is settling down and going to seed. We have some heavy rains forecasted so I harvested some indigo seed, gathered oak galls & acorns and took advantage of delayed rains to scour some wool for a November natural dye class.

The Japanese Indigo yielded its small flea like seeds. When the winter winds blow in I’ll winnow the chaff out.  The Indigo Suffruticosa is still teaching me how to harvest it. The bean like seeds ripen to brown black and split open.   When you pull a seed bunch a branchlet usually comes with it. Determined not to waste an opportunity I’ve put these branchlets plus some wind trimming into a white bucket and put it aside to see if my indigo makes a natural appearance. Look at this after just one day!So I plan to use the yeast recipe for woad in Jenny Dean’s newest book, A Heritage of Colour. Stay tuned for those results.

And the acorns and oak galls are making an appearance so I gathered some up to put aside to pull for tannin.  “Some” is the key word as the squirrels and deer have been very busy dining on fallen acorns.  And finally I am prepping some beautiful wool, silk and cotton for a November workshop I am giving. Scouring the Australian wool was today and winds permitting I will mordant tomorrow. Here’s my source link.

 

Harvesting Madder Root In the Texas Hill Country (aka Texas Red)

2 Feb

imageHarley will assure you I grow madder root for his napping and bug hunting convenience. Despite his beliefs, I am experimenting with growing madder root as a crop with our alkaline soil and high PH well water. I don’t believe I will need to add calcium to this madder root to get to a deeper color. More on dye experiments later this month. This post is all about the digging and madder root prep.  I am making an assumption most folks don’t and won’t grow their own madder root and would enjoy living vicariously thru my harvest.

Why do I? Because I can and I hope it will be a decent cash crop.  You don’t grow madder for its beauty.  It is invasive, scraggly and very scratchy. The tiny yellow blooms and purple/black berries are pretty but small. The mockingbirds and pill bugs LOVE the madder berries!  It is a good rotation crop, if you can call every three years a timely garden rotation.  Once you get it established it takes very little water and just grows.

I had two madder beds to harvest, one three year and one six year bed.  I did take the trouble to keep the vintages separate so I could test the color yield on the two vintages.  The six year bed came about because of a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery which diminished my enthusiasm for heaving roots with a pitchfork.  Once I run some test dye baths we’ll see if  a six year vintage happens again or if a three year rotation will suffice.

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To start the harvest I clipped off the green cover leaves and stalks. That leaf cover crop will give you a nice series of yellows and the leaf stalks will give you a light tangerine. You can plan out your bed harvest to take that portion of the crop to the dye pot and simmer your dye stock while you are digging the roots. I am sorry to say I just cut the leaves & stalks and put them out on the septic field for the deer to munch on. There are historical reports about livestock eating the madder root and developing red bones. I’m thinking some deer hunters around here will be scratching their head if they harvest any of our deer.  I had a lot of digging to do and a tight timeline and wanted to get to it, so…happy deer!

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A garden friend and fellow weaver, Jeannette, came up from San Antonio to help me with my 2nd day of harvest. She wanted to see the plant first hand and learn more about the dye process. Her reward for her hard work was ample madder seed, fresh madder root and some commercial dried madder root for comparison for the dye pot. She went home with ideas for her own madder bed.  My back appreciated Jeannette’s help the 2nd day very much.

It was nice to have someone with which to celebrate the big root “finds”.

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We dug, shook out dirt, washed and rinsed the madder harvest and set it out to dry.

If one is going to pull a big crop I can’t stress having enough tarps for sorting/rinsing and drying racks to manage the roots as you process the crop.

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Above you can see the depth of color these tap roots hold! I think these will yield the deepest color.

Below is about two thirds of the crop laid out to dry.

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After a couple of weeks of drying and the next spell of clear weather I stomped the crop to clear more dirt and clipped the roots apart. The size sorting within the vintages began at this point.  There are the root clumps, the “finger size or larger” madder root and the smaller roots within the 3 and 6 year vintages.  This crop continues to dry.

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Once the moisture is reduced I’ll weigh the crop to see what the root yield is from this effort.

Next up is to pull some 3 & 6 year samples and see what colors I can coax out of the roots.

Below are colors from another earlier 3 year crop to give you a color comparison preview.  It will be fascinating to see what nature has in store for the roots when they meet the dye pot and silk.

Stay tuned!

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