Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wabi Sabi

Sometimes we are presented a gift that takes your breath away.  Today I was a fortunate recipient of such a gift.  As I walked along the pathway of our local wilderness park.  A gentle breeze ruffled the trees and a solitary leaf fell and landed in the grass along the trail.  At that moment a cloud moved and the sunlight poured through,  accenting the Autumn colors in the leaf.  What a beautiful sight!  I was so fortunate to have brought my camera and was able to capture that image just at that moment.  The photo on the right entitled Wabi Sabi is the result.

The silent fall
To rest on strands of green,
The light a lovely accent,
My heart sang.

Natural dyeing is more that taking plant color and transferring it to fabric.  It is also appreciating the Art that is in Nature.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rust Dyeing 101

One of my dyeing friends asked about rusting.  I will try to explain the method I use.  It is by no means the only method, but it has been successful for me.
First a word of warning.  Dry rust can cause problems for some people.  It can mess up your hemoglobin if you handle it to much with your bare hands.  Be safe, wear gloves when handling rusty objects.  Wet pieces do not seem to cause this problem, but play it safe anyway.
I usually start by laying down a piece of plastic.  I place a piece of fabric that has been well-soaked in vinegar on the plastic and arrange my pieces of metal on top in a design that pleases me.  Then I take a spray bottle of water and spritz over the entire piece to thoroughly wet the metal.  You can either place another piece of vinegar soaked fabric on top or just lay another piece of plastic over your design.  The fabric will pick up a mirrored image of your design if you place a little weight on top.  The top of the pile is always another piece of plastic.  This piece of plastic is there to slow the evaporation of the moisture in the pile.  Air must be able to enter in order for rust to form, so do not try to make it airtight.  Leave for 24 hrs, then remove the plastic and check your design.  If it needs more moisture, spritz again with water and recover for a few more hours.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Change is Coming!

I walked outside this morning and immediately felt the change in the air.  The weather was cool and crisp.  A dense fog hovered just above the ground in the field.  The sun had that lovely glow that only an early fall morning can reveal.  I saw several wild cherry leaves on the ground as I stepped off the back porch.  Bright yellow and some were spattered with red or brown.  Somewhere in the neighborhood some one was burning leaves and wood.  The faintest whisper of smoke was on the air.  Even the dog notices the change.  It will not last long.  By nine it will be in the 80's or higher, and summer will continue.
I have been gathering acorns all week.  I have separated the caps from the nuts.  Yesterday I made my first acorn dyes.  I made one from 4 ounces of caps and a half-gallon of tap water.  The other one was 4 ounces of the nuts in their hulls and also in a half-gallon of tap water.  Each were boiled for 1/2 hour in an aluminum pot. The dye bath made from caps only looked dark brown.  The dye bath made from the whole nuts looked almost black.  I simmered bleached cotton in the dye baths for 20 minutes.  The results may be seen in the photo Nuts! on this page.
The results were surprising.  I expected much darker color from both.  I added another piece of muslin with a RR spike rolled up inside the cloth and added it to the pot of dye made from caps only.  After 20 minutes, I could see a change in the color of the bath and some black peeking through the fabric.  The acid and the tannins reacted with the iron and created the gray-black.

Monday, September 12, 2011

We are Growing!

We natural dyers are attracting more and more people every day.  I am so happy to see the new faces that join the group and that are learning to create beautiful fabrics and fibers in such a sustainable fashion.  The other amazing part of this group is that we come from all parts of the World.  Even though our languages are different, our plant varieties different, we somehow manage to communicate the processes of dyeing with plant materials so that everyone understands them.  With so many wonderful blogs being added around the world, even those not subscribing to Facebook can get the information they need.  I have found the natural and eco dyers to be open and willing to share any and all tricks of the trade they have.  By sharing the skills, we share the joy of what we do.  When we share photos, they say so much more than do the words.
I encourage all of you who read my blog to participate as much as you can with your fellow dyers.  Freely exchange information and your own work will improve from that exchange.  Share photos when you can, you don't need to be a fancy photographer either.  Ask questions.  After all, we are all here for the same reason.  We love to dye naturally, we are all learning and even if we have been doing this for many years, there is always something more to learn.  Enjoy the day.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Coming Back Soon!

I have been so tied up getting ready for the Pioneer Days at the Pioneer Florida Museum & Village that I haven't had much time to work on my blog.  I had such huge interest in my natural dyeing that I have been asked to hold classes at the Museum for people to learn to dye in traditional ways and in eco-dyeing.  This is great news!  It means people really are interested in getting away from the use of chemical dyes and really enjoy the colors that Mother Nature provides us.  I'm really looking forward to my talk at the Pasco County Historical Society on natural dyeing on the 16th of September.
The acorns are beginning to fall and I am collecting them as fast as I can.  I want a good supply to experiment with when fall really arrives.  The leaves of the dogwood trees are turning some beautiful colors.  Now that Pioneer Days are over, I hope to get some dye prints from them.
My Hairy Indigo (Indigofera hirsuta) is just breaking into bloom, it is time to harvest and ferment.  I don't expect a dark indigo color from this plant, but it would be nice to get a light blue.  I will report on my progress.  I also found a creeping Indigofera.  I haven't identified the species yet, but I will photo and post as soon as I have.