It’s camellia season here. We have two camellias, a red flowering variety and a more compact white flowering variety. I put up a jar of camellia flowers a while back using the Stuff Steep and Store method… I couldn’t resist trying! For those who don’t know what I am talking about–this is a method of ‘preservation dyeing’ developed by India Flint and published in this book. There is also a rather wonderful online pantry of people’s dye jars to peruse and become inspired by, should you wish.
However, I had no idea whether camellia flowers give reliable dye when I stuffed those blooms in the jar. So I felt heartened when I found Aphee showing her camellia dyes on Ravelry. She has posted about them on her blog a few times, too. She was inspired by a Japanese blog. My French is not very good, but my Japanese is non-existent: I enjoyed the pictures though!!
Aphee’s posts suggest that camellia flowers give colour, that the contents of my jar are a promising combination, and that the nature of the dyestuff is exactly the kind India Flint says Stuff, Steep and Store works especially well for. This, I had hoped for, but not expected. I decided that while the camellias were blooming, I may as well try dyeing by more usual methods.
I gathered all the fallen blooms and tried to rinse the mud and mulch from them. Meanwhile, our chooks were out wandering the yard–and the camellias are their favourite dust bathing spot. The edge of the bed must be in the rain shadow of the verandah, so the soil there is still dry while the whole garden has been generously rain watered lately.
They left big circles of earth on the paving where they shook out the dust once they were finished! The camellias soon turned brown though I kept the heat low. This is one of the reasons the preservation dyeing method seems so promising for dyestuffs like these.
Well… the result in this case was not impressive. This test sample was barely nudged out of the cream and white it was before dyeing. Longer heating didn’t change that at all. So–let that be another example of the mysterious in natural dyeing for the time being. Aphee is doing something differently to me and I have no idea what it is! I’ll put the next clutch of fallen blooms in jars until I have a new thought… who knows what I might learn between now and next camellia season?