Friday, September 25, 2009

Work, the curse of the dyeing woman!

It happens every year at this time (at least for the last 30)

I start to notice all kinds of natural dye sources around the farm or wherever I be outdoors. The golden rod is in full bloom, the pokeberries are ripe, as are the elderberries. The morning glories are wound around every spent cornstalk and the marigolds are just flat out loaded.

I want to start collecting, and stuffing gallon jars, and mordanting wool, and generally making a mess of the tiny back porch and tiny kitchen. But this is also a busy time for getting ready for winter in more practical areas, firewood, hay, hoof trimming, manure spreading, garden bed clean up, row cover repair and so forth. Not to mention getting things ready for festivals, harvesting spindle making and trying to make a living.

But really, it makes sense that the color lust would peak just when the natural dye materials are ready to harvest, because there is a whole winter of spinning and knitting ahead and it would be nice to have our colors already dyed and ready at hand.

It strikes me so hard, that even when I am doing something else, like getting firewood, I think about it…as here


…this piece of bark that I peeled off of a black oak log, to save the inner bark for a bright yellow dye, or this shelf fungus growing on it…does it make a dye, too, I wonder?

But there is not really time to experiment with it, and these things will just pile up around the porch, little aborted projects to be swept off the porch come spring time.

This year, I have succumbed to the calling of color with a 5 minute dash around the yard clipboard and paper in hand, to get a quickie fix of natural color.


I visited the red cypress vine, dark purple morning glories, pokeberries, goldenrod, pink butterfly bush, marigolds and giant knotweed.

I grabbed a flower from each and rubbed a smudge of it on the paper, and this is what I got.


Now what I find interesting about this is that, it is kinda what you would expect. ‘Course, there is no mordant, no heating, etc, but see how the knotweed flowers, which where bright pink, yielded blue (indicating the indigo in this species) and the pink butterfly bush flowers, did not make pink, but made a green/yellow streak, which is what they would dye, and the orange marigold flowers made a bright yellow.

No, no time for wool, but it was a fun 5 minute color fix!

1 comment:

  1. What a neat idea! It seems we are all as crazy busy as the squirrels this season as we prepare for winter. Seems busier this year, since our summer was cool and wet...almost nonexistent.


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