Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010


I couldn't not use some of the leaves from the beautiful little red Maple tree that's in the front of our house.  I picked some of the really red leaves, laid them out on a little piece of prepared cotton.  I rolled the fabric up with the leaves inside and stuffed the works into a little jar.

Almost immediately the liquid started turning purple.  After a few days, it was a beautifully deep purple.

When I unrolled the fabric, I was surprised to see 'stripes'.  You can see a black skeleton of each leaf.  Here is the fabric, which is purple, and some of the leaves, which are still red.

Monday, November 15, 2010


And here are some (badly focused) close-ups of the one in the middle.  You can see quite a lot of leaf detail.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I got a box from Dharma Trading today.  Oh, joy, oh, joy.

There are supplies I desperately needed AND some silk I ordered to experiment with.

I'm mordanting the silk today.

I start playing tomorrow.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Eucalyptus is indeed bizarre! 

To resolve my earlier post, here are the results.  

Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful TextilesI left the leaves from the arroyo tied up in the soy fabric, fermenting away for about ten days.  Not much was happening.  So...I re-read what India had to say about Eucalyptus in her book,  Eco-Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles.  I needed heat! 

Much to the grief of my family, I steamed three bundles of fabric and leaves for about four hours last night.  The whole house smelled of eucalyptus.  It was kind of nice for the first half hour, then it became quite nauseating.  But, I did get some great color!  So it was worth it.

Here is the soy-mordanted long leafed eucalyptus.  It's a beautiful light brick-red:

And here is the round leaves I picked from a tree in the arroyo.  They are the same color as Eucalyptus, and they smell like Eucalyptus.  But, I must admit, I'm not sure what they were.  They were wrapped in the soy fabric for about ten days, also, then steamed.   They produced a more greenish-brownish, khaki fabric:

I froze the remaining leaves.  Freezing is supposed to burst the cells, making it easier for the dye to be theory, anyway.  Here are the results.  This is previously frozen Eucalyptus leaves (from the same tree as the first fabric above) that were wrapped in soy fabric and steamed with the above two samples.  This one has the same light brick-red, but also has some pinker parts than the first sample.  

 Here are some interesting results from the buds from the Eucalyptus tree.  They are little triangular pointed things, that eventually sprout a red-spiked flower.  A few of them were starting to show color, but most were still just buds.  I just took the scissors to them and cut them into little round flat rings and spread them out onto fabric, rolled them up and left them for several days in hot water.  This produced some very lovely yellow, gold and brown circles, almost like cigarette burns:

With some more of the frozen leaves, I cut them up and spread them over alum-mordanted fabric, rolled them up, tied the roll and left it at room temperature for several days.  There was a little color coming.  Yellow!  

I wasn't really pleased with the results, so I spread the chopped leaves back out evenly, rolled it back up and steamed it for several hours.  Yes, in the house again.

I had had a few leaves left over from the above project, so I chopped them up and put them with some soy-fabric and water in a mason jar and microwaved them for thirty seconds every couple of minutes for an hour or two.  The fabric came out a solid yellow:

Strange, huh?  The whole leaves made reddish pink to orange, and the chopped up leaves made yellows and golds.  Mordant didn't seem to matter, or heat, for that matter.

Friday, October 29, 2010


This is the Japanese Maple in our backyard.  It is turning the most stunning shades of oranges.  I picked some of the most intensely colored leaves and took them up to the studio.  I arranged them in rows on the fabric, spreading their little arms out perfectly...and smashed them to smithereens in the press.  

They came out green. 

I don't get it... where does all that beautiful orange color come from, and how do I get to it!

I put some more of the really orange ones on randomly, filling in the blank spots and ran it through the press again. 

It is lovely because of the shapes of the leaves.  

But, I wanted orange.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I couldn't resist this colorful Oak Leaf Hydrangea bush in Lincoln Park.  I picked some of the colorful leaves and found one flower where the petals had some color, pink edges - the rest were just plain white.

I took them home, spread the leaves evenly out on a prepared piece of fabric and ran it through the press.

There was color instantly - the red turned purple and there was a lot of green.  I should have taken the stems off.  No color came from them, and they actually inhibited color, and left a blank spot on the fabric.
Check out where the fabric and leaf hung off mat that was under the fabric and didn't get pressed.  The pressed part turned greenish-red, the unpressed part is the red that the leaf was originally:

I rolled the fabric up, leaving the leaves on it and left it overnight.  Here's the fabric.  You can see the outline of the leaves and the veins, it's very interesting.

Yes, this is the fabric!  It looks you're looking at the leaves through frosted glass - it's beautiful.

The one flower I brought home, I cut each little four-petaled flower off and arranged them in rows.  There wasn't enough to cover the little piece of fabric I was using, so I added some leftover leaves to the bottom.  Then I ran this whole thing through the press.  Afterward, I took the leaves and petals off and sprinkled salt over it and rolled it up and left it overnight.  The salt, an afterthought, caused the color to 'melt' a little, as you would expect salt to do.

The flowers left a mostly green imprint with a darker outline, where the pink had been, and in the very center is a little red spot.  I think there was a small pistil, yellow or pink, I can't remember.

I want to go back and get more!


I saw these really beautiful little 'seeds' on the ground in the parking lot at Lincoln Park.  I gathered up about a cupful.  I think the tree is some sort of Cedar, but, who knows!

  I spread them out on fabric prepared with alum and soda ash, rolled it up in plastic and let it sit a few days.  When I unrolled it, it was like the picture above - white with yellow/gold spots.  I didn't really like it.  So, I spread them out evenly and ran it through the press.  That spread the color around a little, but not enough.  I moistened the fabric and let it soak with the smashed 'seeds' for another day.  Then I rinsed the fabric off, let it air dry and pressed it.  I can still smell the evergreen smell.  Very nice. I love the mottled golds and yellows.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


This was another specimen high on my list of gotta-gets while on our Southern California trip.  I wasn't sure of the name, but was calling it the Bottle Brush.  And, lo, that's it's common name!  Otherwise known as Callistemon, the flower resembles a bottle brush.  There are alot of these in the area, but I got my sample at the Huntington Library Museum (shhh, don't tell them) right out in front of the entrance!
The bush was covered with bees, and I was trying to be inconspicuous.  When I can't help myself and must get a sample from a plant, I try to take the samples from the back or bottom, or some place where it won't be as noticeable.  And, I spread the damage around to several different plants if possible.  I got a full sandwich baggie full and decided that was plenty, although I was wishing I could get a lot more!

When I got home I separated the red spikes from the receptacles.  This first piece of fabric I put just the red spikes on it, spread them around evenly, rolled it up tied it with string and stuck it in a jar.  I added warm water - 130 degrees - screwed on the lid and left it overnight.  It turned the most gorgeous purple.

I took the receptacles which had a few little red spikes in them and the leaves and spread them around on another piece of prepared fabric, rolled it up and tied it, put it in a jar, added the hot water.

I left them for a few days, and then opened the little packages.

As you can guess the beautiful purple came from the red spikes.  You can see where the ties had been.

The receptacle fabric was interesting also.  The purple was from the red spikes, the reddish brown is from the receptacles.  The leaves didn't leave much color.

I had put the remainder of the flowers I'd gathered into the freezer.  I put them in a nylon sock, and dunked them into hot water and crammed a little piece of prepared fabric in with them.  The initial release of color went swiftly into the fabric closest and created this very interesting pattern: