Friday, August 26, 2011

Harvest Time!

This is becoming my favorite time of the year.  Not only is summer coming to a close, but that means that cooler weather will bring changing leaf colors, fruits ripen for harvest, Mother Nature will put on her finest and give use a hand shopping for dyestuffs.  It is a marvelous time of the year.  I have been granted a boon, in a sense.  This is the year when the local electric company trimmed their rights-of-way and the new sprouts are shooting up all over.  That means I get to pick and choose the colors of foliage I want to work with.  It is also much lower and I can reach it better.  This also means that I can pick up firewood that they have cut down for me.  All you have to do is ask and they will let you take away some branches. It means they don't have to shred them or haul them away. Oak trees here in Florida are already dropping acorns.  The live oaks and certain white oaks have  a good crop on them.  Gathering them only takes a few minutes and they store well for dyeing with later.  I had another stroke of luck thanks to Hurricane Irene.  The winds she brought to my area shook down a whole lot of hickory nuts.   I picked up 20 lbs. in about 15 minutes.  I will begin extracting them tomorrow.  Today I stopped where a road crew was cutting goat willow alongside the road and they gave me about 15 branches.  I have a pot of willow dye on now.  I will dry some of the branches for dyeing with later in the fall.  It makes a beautiful yellow color, and is very versatile.  I have been asked to give a talk at our local Historical Society about natural dyeing the way the early pioneers did.  I will be making several batches of dye to show the dye color and the finished fabric.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I think I will try some mud dyeing also.  We have some beautiful red clay type soil in my area and I think I can get a successful dye from it.  If I do, I will post photos on the blog.
I hope everyone is enjoying this blog.  Please feel free to post comments or suggestions.  Don't be bashful.  just click on "comments" at the end of each blog, and add yours.      Be back in a little while.


  1. Thanks for you comments and advice on my blog. I'm also new to eco-dye. Find it fun and want to experiement and explore. Glad to know you ane will follow you. I read all your posts, it help.
    Terrie from Hong Kong

  2. Thanks, Terriea. I found your blog very interesting, and of course I enjoyed the photos. If I can help with any problem, please feel free to ask or leave a comment on my blog.

  3. Facinating blog. I must come back when I have more time to read further. This is something I have wanted to try on some wool for spinning and knitting but I really don't need another hobby so I hesitate to begin. Too much to do already.
    We have a few hickory nut and black walnut trees in our yard. It will be fun to see what your 20 pounds produces.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  4. Thanks for stopping by. I have some pieces dyed with walnuts and hickory nuts in my dye photos album on FB. If you care to see them, send a friend request and I will add you so you can view the albums.

  5. Hello James! And thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. That was a nice surprise to find out this morning that you also write a blog; look forward to reading more.

  6. Hello James,

    I heard about your work on FB and started reading your blog from the start. I'm curious to see how the mud turns out. I've been curious about using natural pigments to make color and your blog is very informative.


  7. I'm glad you enjoy the blog, Michael. I really enjoy doing the experiments, because it enriches the general knowledge of natural dyeing and eco-printing. I wish more had been written by our ancestors on this, but considering how difficult their daily lives already were, it was easier to just pass it down by word of mouth.
    I am entering into new areas such as printing with natural materials, and dyes. Stamping designs and block printing; also using natural dyes and pigments. There is a whole world waiting to be discovered. I hope you hang in there for the ride. You live in an area of the country that has a rich history in natural dyeing and a wealth of plants that have been used. I do hope you are taking advantage of it. Keep in touch.