I went to a wedding in the hills recently… a very pleasantly relaxed and extremely celebratory occasion. On the way home, I stopped in a small town because… many European trees grow in the Adelaide Hills and it’s wonderful to see.
And of course, I had hopes and plans. If you don;t want to look at pictures, stop now. This is a post of MANY pictures.
I collected leaves…
I made bundles…
I made experiments…
I tooled around the neighbourhood on my bike collecting tried and true leaves.
I unwisely tied my bundles with coloured string for the first time ever. I sorta kinda knew this was stupid but did it anyway and was rewarded with blue lines, most of which happily washed out!
I applied heat as the sun set…
And the next day! These images are of fabrics still damp and freshly unwrapped. Even the flannel rag I had used to create a bit of ‘padding’ on one bundle took dye.
Oak leaves on silk
Maple leaves on silk. So green! they are still green after washing and ironing. This silk is from a pantsuit a friend scored for me at an op shop. It is well washed and work raw silk.
The ever faithful E Cinerea on linen. A friend gifted me linen offcuts and these are the first that have made their way into the dye pot. Am I ever blessed with generous friends!
Maple leaves on linen.
E Scoparia is awesome yet again on cotton.
Sheoak from the neighbourhood on linen. This has so much potential…
A happy day all round!
While I was in the Western suburbs recently, I went for a wander and saw what I thought at first glance were olive trees. Shame on me for not looking more closely: these were oak trees, as evidenced by the acorns.
On the other hand, looking at those leaves, this is not a variety of oak I’m accustomed to. The most common oak in my neighbourhood is the English oak (Quercus Robur), which has quite a distinctive leaf shape: nothing like this one. The next most common is the cork oak (Quercus Suber): there are a couple in a nearby park which are a constant source of wonder to me. Perhaps I am just not paying attention. I found this site listing quite a few oaks on a site from my own city–so many different oaks must be grown here. While I was in Melbourne there was a leaf I could only have said was not native on the table during the Second Skin workshop. India Flint pronounced it an oak, and that evening I saw loads of them planted down the side of a street. With acorns–which are evidently the only mental clue I have for identifying unfamiliar oaks. So I recently understood there must be members in the oak family I hadn’t met. To look at this tutorial on identifying oak leaves in North America, the leaf I saw in Melbourne was a red oak and the ones I know better are white oaks.
Just to add to the mystery, where the trees had re-sprouted after being cut back, there were juvenile leaves that were positively prickly along the leaf margins. Well–I decided to gather a few leaves and acorns and try them out. The result was not really exciting… but then I have never seen so many acorns in one place and there are dyeing applications for acorns I’ve never tried. So perhaps the future still holds possibilities!
I have continued my experiments with Rebecca Burgess‘ ‘fall dye starter’ from Harvesting Color. I admit, it is barely autumn here and I’ve actually been trying this out through our summer… but this is a mere detail, I hope! I tried these three lobed leaves which someone told me were from a maple (I know little about maples), and birch leaves–why not?
I like the results a lot, but I won’t bother with birch again. I also collected oak leaves and wrapped them.
Finally, I made a special trip to what I was confident was a maple to collect these exquisite five-lobed leaves. I tried these on fabric cooked with tannin-bearing eucalyptus bark, which is not what Burgess recommends at all.
This produced hardly a smudge. So, I may have to review my ideas about tannin. Or on the other hand, I may have to reconsider my naive ideas about maples!
Following Rebecca Burgess’ instructions for a fall dye starter from Harvesting Color, I pulled out my rusty nail solution and, given the difficulty of collecting maple leaves nearby, took the opportunity when I was passing a street where oaks had been planted as street trees.
I wrapped my bundle and put it in a jar of vinegar and rust nail water on 16 December (that’s it beween the rusty nail jar and the hibiscus dye jar). Now to see what happens. I have to say it is a mystery to me why my rusty nails, which were…rusty and orange… have produced a black solution over time in my case. I have added more vinergar and water to the nails and the black particles have settled out in the bundle jar overnight in this photo.
After two weeks in the sun, my rusty water looks more rusty (and you can just see my bundle in there):
And yes, I did get a leaf print, albeit a mostly very blurred one. The colour is impressive, but I think this is a clear case of time (unusually) not being the dyer’s friend. Rebecca Burgess suggested 2-3 days and I left this for 10-11 days, which suited me but not the process. I will be sure to try again and be more obedient in my instruction-following!