Monday, November 28, 2011

Loving Autumn's Bounty!

This is a wonderful time of the year for dyers.  There is such a huge collection of things to choose from to make colors and prints with.  On the left is a photograph of 3 silk scarves that were all dyed/printed with Autumn leaves, bits of metal and cooked in an iron pot for an hour.  The left scarf is a combination of wild cherry and maple leaves combined with rectangles of steel mesh used in stucco and plaster work.  It almost looks reptilian.
The middle scarf is all maple leaves.  This scarf barely showed any color or print at all until I dipped it in vinegar after dyeing.  Then the leaf shapes and even some red color came up.  The right scarf is maple and persimmon leaves folded into a long rectangle, then the rectangle was folded into triangles (like folding a flag) then clamped with steel binder clips on all edges before dyeing.   These scarves were all simmered for an hour.  They were placed in Ziplock bags immediately after removing from the pot and allowed to sit for 5 days.  It is best to wait longer, but when using iron or steel metal parts, best to check after 3 days to make sure the reaction is not eating holes in your fabric.  Five days seemed to be the max I would risk, so I took the bundles to a Natural Dye class I was teaching at the Pioneer Florida Museum, and I let the students open the bundles at the very beginning of class to show them where we were headed.  They were thrilled, and I was very pleased with the results.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Wonders of Nature!

There is a chill n the air, but the days are still dry and beautiful.  I have seen some unusual Autumn sights this year. I wonder what they portend?  At least they are giving me a wonderful selection of materials to dye with.
The wild cherry trees in my yard usually drop yellow leaves that turn brown quickly and only in small amounts.  This year the treas have had brilliant yellow, orange and red leaves and have dropped most of their leaves over a three day period.  This afforded me a great opportunity to gather some of each color to dye a silk scarf.  I had gone to the river to renew my supply of river water heavy in tannic acid.  While at the river, I found about 30 beer bottle caps in different states of rusting.  I picked them up, brought them home and rinsed them.  I put them in a cup of water with some vinegar to encourage more rusting overnight.  The next morning  I gathered a great selection of Wild Cherry leaves and along with the bottle caps, I wrapped them in a silk habotai scarf around a Jacaranda stick, bound them with rubber bands and put them in the rice cooker with 3 cups of water to steam for an hour.  When they were steamed, I took them out and put the bundle in a ziplock bag and set it aside for 4 days.  When I opened the bundle, hung it to dry and then photographed it.  See photo on left.  I called the scarf Cherry Liquer.