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

17 May

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

28 Apr

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.

Prepping tannins for cotton

5 Nov

Because I can…I have local oak galls, acorns and walnuts (imported from the wilds of West Chester, PA) to choose from to use for tannins for cotton dye prep.  Here they are in their form of waiting in the wings till needed.

Oak Galls collected here in Blanco county   

Walnuts in their slimy & stinky form after a year soaking with the newer walnuts carried here by Marge from West Chester, Pa.

 And the ancient acorns from about two years ago…..whose mold I will not inflict upon anyone but myself!

 
Testing between the walnut and the oak galls I get a dark tone & a yellow tone.

The walnut pushes brown…duh   

And the oak galls push yellow red.

Oak galls are the recommendation by several authors. I will use them in conjuction with alum acetate and a chalk dunging. I believe with dilution the cotton will shift to a beige color. 

Since different skeins will be overdyed with madder, persimmon and indigo I am not concerned about the mordant undertone. The tannin’s impact will be minimal on the final colors. The goal is to get the tannin in play on the fibers so they play nice with the alum acetate, the dunging and the final dye baths.

 

Dye Talk in San Antonio, Tx

4 Nov

If you are around San Antonio on Nov 12th I’d love to meet fellow dyers… I am speaking about natural dyes I use from my valley & garden!

  

Meeting location:

  

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.

 

Meanwhile…over in Finland Freeze Dried Indigo

7 Oct

Actually, the term is more correctly frost bitten Japanese Indigo! I admire it so much I must share Riihivila’s efforts in Finland on more exploring with different variations of dried indigo based on John Marshall’s Dried Japanese Indigo recipe in his latest publication.

Riihivila takes advantage of a late freeze to explore here…

http://riihivilla.blogspot.fi/2015/10/dyeing-with-frost-bitten-japanese.html

So, if you live somewhere early frosts are threatening your late season JI, consider this exploration.

No photos in my blog today but jump over to Riihivilla’s blog and enjoy her photos.

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