Thursday, July 29, 2010

On the brighter side

Not all of the past two weeks have been hard. I did do some felting...though the piece is dragging on much longer than usual. But the best thing I did art-wise was to do some dyeing and felting with my wonderful nieces. These little girls always bring me joy and when we are doing these projects I feel good about myself.
First we picked some leaves and berries that were growing in the yard. We had to do this quickly since a thunderstorm was fast approaching. We weathered the storm in the basement, not because it was that bad but because that is where the dye studio is. It is great to have this space where we can be really messy!  I forgot to take photos but the girls' mom got some shots as we were opening our bundles.

Here we are discussing what worked well.
'A' does not look too sure about touching the mushy cooked leaves, though 'K' does not seem to mind.

We were all happy with our results, though 'A' was getting a bit silly putting a large felt bowl on her head.
We had talked about mordants and how they can change the colors. (These girls are very smart and interested in everything!)  Since my piece had colors similar to the girls' I put it in washing soda to show them how it would change. Here is a photo of it after the washing soda dip.

While we were waiting for the pot to boil we did some felting. They wanted to make butterflies. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of the ones the girls made. Here is mine.

I did more dyeing on my own as well.
This one was done with old dried rose petals found while cleaning out my daughter's college apartment.

This was done with mystery leaves I gathered in Ithaca on a break from cleaning out that apartment. I wish I knew how it happened that while the one leaf only left an outline the spot where it overlapped the other leaf is a different color. My theory is that it acted as a resist of some sort.

I did some dyeing with berries. It is too bad that the color will not stay for long. This is done with chokecherries.

Leftover crushed black berries. The pot had some iron in it.

This was done with purple loosestrife and a fern that had lots of spores on the back of the leaves.

This was a piece that I over-dyed with annatto by just sticking it in the jar and letting it soak for a long time. The dark spots are from St. John's wort.
Here is a photo of all the pieces. The silks on the upper right were done with rust.


The past two weeks have been difficult. Kids and pets have all needed extra time and care. I have been struggling more than usual this summer, trying to fight the thoughts that weigh me down and added worries sure don't help. Each of the challenges lately have caused me to pray that I will be, say, and do the right things, meanwhile fighting my own inner bully that tells me I am not good enough. So far I am still duking it out and though I may not be winning the fight I am still standing.
The biggest blow has been that I decided to put down my pet cat, who has been with me for 12 years. I am struggling with that decision in part because of my own feelings of failure but also because of comments from others. As with any issue, we are each entitled to our own opinions and should be able to express them.  I also know that it is up to me how I will allow an other's viewpoint effect me, but that does not mean that does not add to the hurt.
I wanted to write this post just so that I will remember when these events occurred.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More...lots more... dyeing. I may need an intervention!

This has got to be a quick but image heavy post. I have been doing so many different things with the natural dyeing that I can't remember all that I have done. Since I posted last I did a pot with iron as a mordant. Wrapping some pieces of silk with plant material around a piece of iron and cooking in an old rusty enamel pot with added iron pieces. Thankfully the photos have dates so I can try to remember what I did chronologically.
First I did make a few pieces of felt. Two blanks and one using some naturally dyed wool and silk.

I am going to stitch a stem and some other details on this one.
The next picture is of one of the blanks after it had been soaking in copper water. I love that color!

But since it was for experimenting I went ahead and bundled it with some leaves and got this.

The felt has other fibers added on one side. These did not take the dye the same as the wool, the lower left corner shows what the side with just wool looks like.
The other blank is big like a shawl. I first wrapped some fallen Rose of Sharon flowers in tight bundles in several places. I then added bunches of other stuff but I can't remember what all was in there except old day lilies and lots of greenery. I got some funky results from the wrapped balls of flowers.

The green patch is the outside of the bundle. I think this was in the pot with copper.

I re-bundled it with more of the Rose of Sharon flowers, some violet leaves, some once used eucalyptus & ?. I  cooked it with copper and a big silk bundle that had ton of the flowers.
I liked it better before but I can still do more to it so I don't mind.

I really liked the results of my iron experiments unfortunately I am really having a hard time remembering what I used to get the results I got.
This one I know I did with the horrible Purple Loosestrife. 
This beautiful but invasive plant (shown below) destroys wetlands by crowding out native plants AND by having so much tannin that it effects the water and soil and is also poisonous for amphibians.  For dye purposes that tannin can be a good thing. I love finding plants that give color that I can feel good about hacking away at!
This next iron piece it really like but have no idea what was in the bundle.
Here are several photos because there are some parts I really, really like.

More mystery iron pot pieces.
I know at least some of these were in a pot that had Eastern red cedar root that had been boiled and left to soak. I still have the dye liquor so I may do more.

Next up are the pieces that I did at Joei's house this past weekend. I was supposed to be going there to help paint her studio but the walls were not quite ready so we got to play instead.
These are the pieces that worked out pretty well.
The pink is bee balm and orange spots are eucalyptus that Joei had. These were done with alum as a mordant. The next one has onion skin and St Johns wort.

Today I opened some bundles that I did last night. The one below was done as a silk sandwich. A piece of silk, some Rose of Sharon flowers, day lilies, ferns, violet leaves, some used eucalyptus, then another piece of silk on top. I then took one of the dyed pieces and dipped it in washing soda as a post mordant. Wow! What a difference.
The top piece is before the washing soda dip. The red rectangles are from a small piece of Madder root that must have been a stowaway curled up in the Eucalyptus that I had used at Joei's.
In this next piece the pink on top is bee balm and the orange-y pink came from berries off an invasive honeysuckle. I am going to try those again.
And last but not least I opened my garbage bundles. I had been adding all my vegetable matter from these experiments to a jar with some silks in it. They cooked in the sun and cooled in the night over and over. I just kept adding to the jar each time I opened a bundle. After sitting undisturbed for days it began to grow some mold. I photographed it and got an amazing abstract that reminds me of outer space.
Here are the vegetal contents of the jar ready to go on the compost.
The disgusting, smelly, slimy, mankie (India's word which I love but don't know how to spell) bundles and loose silks. Notice the mold on the bottom one.
All this grossness gave me some nice results.

The pinker piece was a piece that had been lightly dyed with cochineal.

The one in the photo above had been dyed twice before primarily with ragweed. I wanted a totally green cloth but it just kept getting more gold. I finally wrapped it in more ragweed and stuck it in the garbage jar. It has lots of subtle color shifts that I rather like.
This last piece has been soaking in old hickory nut hulls.
Now I just need to figure out what I am going to use all of these for...especially since I know I am not over this addiction yet.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

dyeing a la India Flint

I told friend Joei that I would post pictures of my results from my latest eco-dyeing experiments. I will also help me to have a record that will be harder to misplace! So here goes...

First here is the 'collection', pale but pretty.

A scarf that was soaked in copper water before dyeing.

Folded and wrapped on a copper pipe.

My leaf experiments were done on strips of silk also wrapped on copper pipes.
The purple-ish color is from dayliles. The scarf above a cooked a bit hotter than my leaf samles so the color had less of a red hue.

black raspberry leaves

I think these are some type of mulberry

Paper Birch...maybe

Rose on right, Mint from garden on left

That is rag weed on the left

Globe thistle from the garden which was on the very outside of the bundle.

Strip 2

Choke Cherry

Elderberry...I think

Staghorn Sumac
All told I think I have sampled about 35 different plants. I am going to try using a somewhat rusty pot with some other iron things thrown in next....but one of these days I need to make some felt to try to sell...maybe some scarf blanks that I can dye;)