Tuesday, July 17, 2007

local color!

I'm trying to capture this place, these green hills and gardens, before I make the great move to the southwest. I've been describing the landscape in my journal. I've been searching galleries for the right painting. And I've been experimenting with local, natural dyes to take some of these colors with me.

Clockwise from right: (1) cochineal with ammonia dip (2) cochineal on silk noil with ammonia dip (3) cochineal on silk noil (4) cochineal on washed silk/wool (5) cochineal on unwashed silk/wool (6) cochineal (7) cochineal and marigolds (8) cochineal and marigolds on silk/wool (9) cochineal and marigolds on silk noil (10) chamomile (11) rhubarb leaves (12) rudbeckia flowers (13) rudbeckia flowers on silk noil (14) rudbeckia leaves (15) sweet fern (16) mullein leaves (17) St. Johnswort flowers, exhaust (18) St. Johnswort flowers, first bath (19) red wine with ammonia dip (20) red wine. Unless otherwise noted, all samples are merino wool. All are alum mordanted.

I'm by no means a purist -- you'll notice some exotic dyestuffs in here too. I'm playing with cochineal, in preparation for a silk/wool tunic for my mom. And when one local flower (marsh mallow) yielded only dullness, I replaced that dyebath with some displeasing cabernet sauvignon.

But the greatest interest for me comes from the local yellows. And in a few weeks, some of those yellows will be joined by blues and greens! I've been growing some japanese indigo by seed and am eager to try a first harvest. Some is in the garden and some is in this nice big pot, which sits on a pedestal covering our well.

(It's getting dark, too dark for a proper picture, but I thought I'd try anyways. Funny how the cat and dog always come around to investigate what I'm doing!!)

Anyways, if you're interested in more information about this dyeing, please let me know. I figure that most readers won't be interested in the fiddly details and recipes. But the cochineal, wine, and some of the local yellows (marigolds and chamomile) are readily available most anywhere and reasonably easy to dye with - and it makes for splendid experimentation!


Alisa said...

Oh Hanna how lovely! I remember the first bug dyeing experiment, which, while quite adventurous and exciting, yielded underwhelming results. But THIS! Ahhhhh.

Macoco said...

Those colors and that photo are beautiful. I'm passing this link along to one of my friends who is very interested in dyeing with local/natural dyes.

Susie said...

Your palette of dyed yarns is lovely. I just tried mullein leaves and flowers myself and got a very dark golden color. I'm thinking of trying an ammonia dip with one of the skeins. Haven't posted photos of them yet, though.