I love Nature, there's no doubt about it. In my everyday life, I try to be as earth friendly as can be.
My hubby, our two sons & I, live in the heart of a 250.000 inhab. town, in the south of France. We rent an appartment that has no garage, no garden, no balcony, no attic.
We don't own a car (where would we park it anyway ?!) and walk to the boys' schools (four times a day, thanks), walk to shop for food, and hubby walks to work (tribunal) when he has to go there. (he works mainly from home)
We don't own a freezer, nor a drier. We don't watch TV, and our boys only watch DVDs we bought for/with them.
We eat almost exclusively organic food, and have started to grown our own sprouted seeds at home, and soon will bake our bread too.
OK, this was a bit of a background, which was maybe unnecessary, but if you didn't know me before, well maybe this was useful.
I have seen several friends & ladies on Flickr/on their own blogs, sharing their personal experience with dyeing with plants, and the need to dip my own toes slowly but surely grew. I finally got started, with the help of my hubby, earlier this month. And all I can say is that it is addictive, more particularly because it's part art, part chemistry, part nature, part surprise ... how not to love dyeing with plants ?!
But, I don't want to experiment all plants that are known for dyeing. I mean, when I looked on Google about dyeing with ginkgo leaves, I had no result at all. How was that possible, specially with the result they gave ?!
In fact, what I really mean, is that for all my dyeing experiments, I will use plants that I can find very locally, that grow during the season we're in, and as much as it is possible, I will try to use materials that are in big or huge quantity. (like the fallen yellow ginkgo leaves ...) May it be leaves, berries, fruits ...
I'm slowly but surely documenting & reflecting about what I can find here, and during which season, and I am already eager to try several plants, but I'm not going to spoil the surprises until I manage to find them, collect them & dye with them.
And one last thing ... I am against using animals for dyeing, so NO galls for me (they're insects anyway) ... no cochineal ... for instance. I can't bear the idea of boiling animals, even insects, to death.
I hope that you have a clearer idea about my very own experiments now.
I tried a new process (macerating the fruits for a couple of days) but I don't think it helped, and I think it wasn't the appropriate way to get these fruits tinctorial power. But, anyway. I had fun, hubby too ... even though we were hoping for a slightly darker color. (at least)
So ... this time we used
P h y t o l a c c a * a m e r i c a n a
... also known as American Pokeweed, American nightshade, cancer jalap, coakum, garget, inkberry, pigeon berry, pocan bush, poke root, pokeweed, redweed, scoke, red ink plant. With such names, I think I had too high expectations ! LOL
OK let's move onto the photography fun ! :)
Really, don't they have gorgeous shape & colors ?!
Macerating the fruits in water & a dash of vinegar, for a couple of days
Mordating with alum
In the dye
Barely visible results
Comparison with undyed silk yarn
Comparison with undyed silk bourette (silk waste) (undyed on the right)
Comparison with undyed linen (undyed on the right)
What did I learn from this experiment ?
Not to have too high expectations, not to be discouraged and to experiment some more, ah ! :)
This time I tried dyeing with the fruits of a shrub growing in our Mediterranean region, which makes white flowers in early spring, and then metallic (sincerely, it was really very pretty & I could have looked at them for hours) dark blue drupes in the autumn. You may know it by the name of laurestine.
v i b u r n u m * t i n u s
Isn't that shrub really beautiful ?
Having fun with the drupes ...
Mordating with alum
Preparing the dye with the fruits
The dye itself (well a bit of it to show you the color !)
Fabrics & fibers in the dye
The resultAs you can see, the colors are not the same on the linen (far left) and on the silk bourette & silk yarn. The linen got kind of light taupe, and the silks turned into a lovely green hue ... um, kind of light grey-olive green. (if you have a better name, please share !!)
As I've been on a roll this week, I'll make another dye tomorrow (with the helping hand of my hubby) & I'll share the result this weekend, as we shall stay at home.
This is a place where I'll gather the records of my little experiments with dyeing with plants. My goal is to gather what Nature kidnly allows me to pick, like leaves or berries.
This is what I wanted to dye : a square of silk bourette (silk waste), a length of white linen, and a bit of silk yarn.
My very first experiment is dyeing with yellow leaves of
G i n k g o * B i l o b a
Mordanting (with alum)
Preparing the dye
The dye itself
I must say I'm pretty happy with the result, even though the silk yarn doesn't look as "silky" as before the dye. I will share later what I will use these bits of ginkgo dyed fabrics for.
Thank you for following this with me. You can expect another post quite soon as I'm currently dyeing with something else as I'm typing. :)
And last but not least, I want to thank my sweet hubby for his help and big support. I would have not done all this without him.