I keep finding myself humming ‘Deck the halls with boughs of holly’ when collecting bark. I realise it’s the first of December and there is a chance I have just been ear-wormed by a Christmas carol when passing by a shop… but I don’t think so. I think I am actually humming ‘Tis the season for bark-collecting, tralalalala tralalala’. Which may, of course, be even greater cause for concern! Today I went out with my bike and visited this tree, cunningly hidden behind and beside a carob tree (whose leaves you can see). I’ve tried dyeing with carob leaves, but nothing exciting emerged.
As I went to pack my bag of bark into my bike trailer a gecko ran out! Now that really was an occasion for celebration… a native lizard enjoying one of my favourite dye plants. I also collected bark from a tree in Leader St. I ran a sample dye pot some years back from leaves that had dried in the gutter beside it and got rich colour, but the council has trimmed the boughs so high I can’t reach leaves or see any buds or gumnuts. I am using the pattern of bark shedding to identify more E Scoparia trees. Anything that has bark that has turned dark grey and red just as it begins to shed is on my plausible candidates list if it is peeling now, which is why I visited the one in Leader St. Needless to say, there is a dye pot running now to test this theory. After all, ’tis the season for bark collecting…
And, at Guild today I became the happy recipient of natural dyestuffs of antiquity which I might be able to use for my dyeing workshop. Some had no labels, and this one is the most intriguing of the unidentified specimens. I could guess many, but not this one. Any clues? It looks to be the husk of a small fruit. Smaller than a hazelnut, say, but bigger than a pea. Dark on the outside and crimson on the inside.
This trove is going to take some research, but will be my first opportunity to try logwood and cochineal (let those bugs not have died in vain…) and suchlike, as well as some things I’ve never heard of, like shredded mulga bark (mulga roots are common firewood here, but I’ve never heard of this as a dyestuff) and ‘red sanderswood’. Happy times… I also received some undyed handspun yarn as part of the Guild birthday challenge, labelled ‘Goat Hair’. Perhaps it can be dyed from the new dye collection?