avocado dip

Chopped up a bunch of avocado skins, added the pits, and set it all to simmer. Once strained the concoction made a surprising dye bath - the cloths came out maroon/rust/dusty pink pending on kind. While I had the pots on the stove I could not resist making a few bundles filled with fresh spring leaves, such as japanese maple, redbud, and roses... A wonderful end to a wonderful day. Happy spring.

hard to resist

Even though I am in the midst of this big production crunch, I took some time off this weekend for a dye pot experiment. Since fresh leaves are so scarce now I wanted to try to create a resist print using leaflets from the evergreen nandina shrub (thank you India for the suggestion). For the dye color I mixed hibiscus tea and red onion skins, fully expecting a wine color, or pale maroon. Instead I got the most beautiful dark brown color, especially on the wool fabric (below). I love surprises.

I had mixed results with the resist prints. It worked well on the fabric near the surface, but I realized that I don't know how to get the dye color to penetrate the bundles to create the contrast deeper inside... But that is what I love about this process — there is always something new to learn, and frequently the  results are still quite magical. In this case I was amazed by the deep color, and the soft suggestions of the leaves. And those string marks are pretty cool. Happy valentines day everyone. Spread the love...

the pomegranate story

Amidst stitching up sachets, pressing towels, and filling orders, I had time for a little dye experiment this past week. Pomegranates left over from our thanksgiving festivities were chopped up, and put to simmer for a few hours. The concoction turned into an interesting shade of grayish, pink-purple, but the cloth placed within came out a beautiful golden greenish tan, pending on the type of fabric.

I love to try new things so before submerging some of the fabric I covered them with leaf prints, using whipped up egg as my "ink" and a leatherleaf viburnum leaf as my printing plate. Once placed in the dye bath the parts printed with the egg mixture reacted stronger to the dye in those places. Quite beautiful and amazing to me...

white silk leaf printed with egg mixture before pomegranate dye

 egg mordant prints on linen after pomegranate dye

egg mordant prints on silk after pomegranate dye

I may not be able to post again before Christmas, so I'll leave you with my warmest wishes for a light filled, peaceful, and joyous holiday season!

maple magic

Do you remember my friend Lily's Japanese maple tree, and the beautiful prints made from its fresh summer leaves? Well Lily's maple continue to marvel. This time of year the leaves are turning a spectacular shade of red, slowly letting go, dancing towards the ground. Thankfully I gathered a few bagfulls of these treasures for some happy dye pot experiments. I am enthralled with the results.

The cotton tunic started out ia drab, uncomplimentary beige color. Now it is covered in blue, green, and gold maple leaf imprints. I can't wait to wear it with my favorite pair of jeans! The eco-prints on silk are equally amazing. I especially love the effect on the thin organza, shown at the top of this post. A mere whisper of impressions, still clear and powerful held up against a white background. Magical.

international fame – part two

I am normally don't like tooting my own horn, but I have to let you know of another international publication featuring my work. Chinese Kaka Life, a craft and do-it-yourself magazine, published an interview with me and several photos of my work. I am grateful to Antonia Chan, who wrote the article and invited me to partake. Now if I only had brushed up on my Chinese...

My recent eco-prints have been incorporated into some new pieces, currently listed in the etsy shop. I am intrigued by the beauty of the prints, and love how they immediately become focal points, enhancing the plain unbleached linen fabric they were combined with.

fall color

Brightly colored leaves are starting to cover the ground in the garden and along the city streets in our part of the world. Intrigued by their beautiful hues and how they might might work as eco-prints, I have collected bunches of them during recent walks in our neighborhood.

This weekend I bundled them up, trying to be somewhat scientific by adding nothing but pure water and a couple of pieces of copper piping to the dye pot. The results were amazing, but not in the way I imagined. I was thinking I would get leaf impressions in red, burgundy, maybe orange based on the colors I started with. Instead the imprints on the linen fabric were vivid green, yellow, soft bluish gray, brown, or tan pending on the species. On silk the same leaves printed pale pink, peach, and mauve... I am totally infatuated with this dyeing method. Unwrapping the bundles is like unwrapping a treasure, always with surprising results. And each time I recall the wonderful time spend learning during India Flint's workshop this summer and the friendships that were forged in the process. Bliss.

I have listed the leaves I used, and the stunning pieces of cloth that resulted below.

soft hues and gratitude

This past week I finally did some more dye pot experiments. I simmered black walnuts, in various stages of decay, and added pieces of whole cloth linen as well as some bundles. One of the bundles incorporated architectural iron stars that I have collected over the years, another included large mimosa leaves. The overall result did not yield the dark brown color I had anticipated, but I am still pleased. The softness of the hues achieved with natural dyes is fascinating.

My work was featured in three different blogs this week. I am grateful for the attention. Thank you Illana for the interview (don't miss the giveaway), and Jenya for the beautiful photo collage and kind words, and last but not least Erin for including my towel in her Canadian Thanksgiving inspiration.  Happy weekend everyone!