After the recent India Flint workshop on the Island Book, I took home enough paper and ideas to make a second book. In the upper images you can see my post-workshop efforts with dye plants local to me, and in the images at the bottom, some pictures of the Aldinga Island Book.
Tag Archives: Grevillea Robusta
One of my friends is a poet, and a social worker. She has spent years dedicating herself to the wellbeing of the people in the locality where she works, a place where poverty and violence have taken their toll, creating tough lives. She witnesses people’s skills and talents in the face of difficulty and enables the bringing into existence of new connections, new skills, new capacities and new lives. She helps those who must escape violence to make that difficult, vital journey into new lives without abuse. I am full of admiration for all that she can do and all that she is.
She has been facing some powerful challenges of her own in the face of government budget cuts and policy changes. I have been thinking of her a great deal. There is one poem in particular that brings her solace. I decided to embroider it for her. It has been a pleasure to spend so many hours thinking of her, holding her in my heart and wishing her well. I’ve stitched the words on hemp dyed with indigofera australis and thread dyed with indigofera for blue and silky oak for yellow.
They say ‘small things amuse small minds’. I think that if you can be amused by small things, you can be amused and delighted on a regular basis. And that small things are often delightful. Moss, for instance.
This is such a small thing. I loved Cossack Design’s needle safe, and what with all the embroidery going on round here, I decided to make my own needle case. I think the last one I made was created in my primary school years–both long gone.
I decided on golden stitching for the edges, so dyed some silk with Silky Oak (Grevillea Robusta) leaves. A nod to Ida Grae of Nature’s Colors fame for the recipe, wherever she may now be. Hopefully hale and hearty and dyeing away though apparently no longer publishing. How wonderful that she figured out this dye plant–which is native to Australia–from California!
Here is the thread…
And the inside of the needle case. These two fine scraps of recycled woolen blanket and that lovely piece of cotton string saved for just such a special occasion have found happy homes at last.
The second in my little series of workshops at the Guild went really well. There was yarn, fleece and roving dyeing. Brown, orange, almost-red and maroon from E Scoparia (bark and leaves) and E Cinerea leaves, yellow from silky oak (Grevillea Robusta) using Ida Grae’s recipe from Nature’s Colors: Dyes from Plants, and the ever-astonishing purple from red sanderswood with alum. I again used Jenny Dean’s method from Wild Colour and still got nothing like the oranges she suggests are likely.
Mysterious outcomes in natural dyeing are not all that uncommon (at least for me!), as the number of variables is so huge. But this one is out of the box–purple!? Since my last post on the subject, Jenny Dean has very generously been in touch with her thoughts on the matter. She suggests this purple could be the result of alkalinity (but given I made no attempt to generate an alkaline bath, it seems unlikely it was seriously alkaline).
Or–and I agree with her that this is much more likely, even though I used 4 different jars/packs labelled “sanderswood”–perhaps the dyestuff was never sanderswood to begin with. The colour is very, very like the logwood results I have had, just about indistinguishable. I am still not complaining about the result–I love purple and so did the participants. I was hoping for purple on this occasion, as I have no more logwood–that I know to be logwood. Perhaps there was a time in the past when a batch of “sanderswood” came to our Guild or a supplier nearby and all the different jars I’ve used ultimately can be traced back to the same mislabelled supply. This would fit with my experience of Eucalypts… it is much more likely that I have misidentified my tree than that the dye bath is giving a completely different colour. Variation to some extent, however, is completely expected.
Here is the “sanderswood” just after I poured boiling water over it–Jenny says this looks like a logwood bath to her. I bow to her much more extensive experience and wisdom, without hesitation.
I have the biggest chips in a little zippered mesh pouch that must once have held toiletries. The smallest chips/splinters are in something that looks just like a giant tea ball. I saw it for sale in a Vietnamese grocery where I was investing in greens, seaweed and soy products and immediately saw its possibilities. The woman who sold it to me had an eye-popping moment (evidently she hasn’t sold one to an Anglo before), and asked me what I was planning to do with it. I love those moments in Asian groceries, because once I’ve been ask the question and given my (admittedly bizarre) response, I can ask about the ordinary use of the device or food in question. This one is usually used to contain whole spices when making a big pot of stock or soup. This point was helpfully illustrated by a packet of soup seasonings–star anise and cinnamon and coriander seed were some of the spices I could identify right away.
People tried out India Flint‘s eco-print technique on cotton, wool prefelt and silk. I hope she will get some extra book sales as a result (if you’d like to acquire her books, click on the link to her blog and look for the option to buy them postage free in the left hand sidebar).
There were biscuits and icy poles and lots of chat. I demonstrated soy mordanting and black bean dyeing. And while we were at the Guild and using the copper, which is such a generously sized vessel by comparison with my dye pots, I leaf printed some significant lengths of fabric that I brought to the workshop bundled up and ready to go. The copper really is copper lined, but I could detect no obvious impact on the colours. Seedy silk noil:
Wool prefelt… the degree of detail is fantastic. This is destined for felting experimentation by a dear friend who generously assisted me at the workshop. Her practical help, support, constant grace and good cheer made things go so smoothly. I also decided to start some processes before participants arrived, which I didn’t do at the previous workshop. I think that helped. But it was a fabulous group of people too.
And finally, silk/hemp blend, destined to be made into a shirt (by me, so it may take a while). I am delighted with how it turned out, after many months of putting off the day.
It was another weekend with leaf prints.
Eucalyptus Cinerea, before..
My test cotton sample, demonstrating that the mordanting I wrote about a little while back should work out just fine for the natural dyeing workshop I’ll be running.
On the weekend I travelled south of the city to celebrate the lives and love of two dear friends. They had an all-in-one birthday party and anniversary. I gave them a teapot and teacosy dyed with silky oak leaves (grevillea Robusta) and eucalypt, and they found it suitably funny.
As we left, one of them pointed out their now-flourishing, though still relatively small, pecan tree. I had seen pecan eco-prints on Lotta Helleberg’s lovely blog. I asked if I could pluck a few, and then I took them home and wrapped them in a piece of cotton twill that used to be a pair of trousers. It was ready and waiting, mordanted in soy and ready to go! Before… (such lovely leaves…)
I had also saved this sample of an unidentified eucalypt a friend was growing in his backyard, but sadly it yielded a few brownish smudges. It’s much prettier in person than as a leaf print. I think it is Eucalyptus Kruseana (Bookleaf Mallee).
And I spent some time creating textured batts ready for textured yarn spinning… wool with mohair locks, while I tried a new method for washing wool.