Notions-Drye Goods Studio Diary

Thanks for checking in. I am a fiber artist. My current emphasis is on eco printing and other wildcraft with a touch of up-cycling thrown in. You can also catch up with me on Facebook at Drye Goods Studio.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Blues

"Particularly with the blues, it's not just about bad times. It's about healing the spirit."
Taj Mahal

Since I work with the seasons, sometimes it looks like I only work in one color. In this case, blue. Most of the blue you see here comes from Hollyhocks, although there is some petunia as well. Weirdly enough, I like ironing. In the studio, anyway. It gives me a chance to look things over and see wonderful details and surprises. Here is what I discovered today.

A little oak leaf hiding amongst the Hollyhock.

On the left, the main print (bottom of the leaf), on the right, the echo. I love the hollyhock on the left, almost photographic.

Sumac floating over rusted nails with a little bit of black locust for some green.

Another oak leaf, this one turned plum by its hollyhock neighbors.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Don't be Sad!

In this case however, it may not be a bad thing. In natural dyeing there is a process called "saddening" and it can be an interesting experiment. I had some scarves that while they had nice clear prints, weren't all that exciting colorwise. I decided to do some dye experiments with them and ended up using the iron pot as an adjunct, or modifier. Exposing a previously dyed fiber to iron is called "saddening" as it grays out, or darkens the original color.

This is the dreaded Burdock, a monster of a plant. Since most plant names that end in "dock" belong to plants that will make some sort of color (usually yellow), I decided to give it a shot. I had to go to a fair so I left a note on it so nobody would over achieve with the weed killer while I was away. It is one of those invasive things that puts out a zillion seeds and can take over the yard in a blink of an eye.

I made a dye pot by first pouring boiling water over the leaves and let them sit overnight. The next day I simmered (not boiled) the leaves for about an hour. Boiling can sometimes make all your color disappear. 

As you can see, it made a yellow dye as expected. I blocked and tied the scarves in order to expose the previously done eco prints to as little heat and color as possible. Again, simmering, for about an hour. In this case I did not leave it to sit overnight as I didn't want the color to get very dark.

This is my iron pot. Normally there would be a picture of the above scarves bobbing around in it, but apparently I forgot to take that picture. So anyway, there is water with a splash of vinegar in the pot. I brought it to a boil and let it cool off completely and then added the blocked scarves. It took no time at all for the color change to take place, maybe 15 minutes. You have to keep an eye on it so it doesn't get too dark as then you won't be able to see your eco prints anymore.

This scarf turned a gray/green, it really added the right touch to what was a mass of brown prints.

This scarf had onion skin in it to begin with so the exposure to the iron made those a bit more golden and again the background is a subtle grayish green.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

St. John's Wort

Hello! It is a busy summer, but sometimes you just have to take advantage of what is blooming. St John's Wort, while known as an anti-depressant also happens to be a dye plant and considered invasive, so chop away at it!

This is what it looks like

I simmered the flowers until the liquid turn red

St John's is magical in that you can put different fibers in at the same time or in various order of submersion to get different results. This is linen and silk and you can already see the change starting to happen! 

The tags tell the story. The cotton with no mordant didn't do much, the silk turned pinky brown. Adding alum to the dye pot itself gave green on the cotton and a kind of mustard on the silk

The linen with an alum mordant was put in at the same time as silk with no mordant. The linen turned green and the silk is pink. After removing those I put in un-mordanted silk and left overnight to get the taupe-brown. What you are supposed to do after removing that is to put in a cellulose fiber with an alum pre-mordant and simmer for about 30 minutes. It is supposed to turn yellow. Which it did. I decided to let it set for a bit to see if it would get darker. Well, when you completely forget about it and come back a day and half later, you get the rusty-red of the sample in the lower right-hand corner. I like that better anyway! Since the directions I was following were for wool, I assume the colors are probably more vibrant on wool, but I got a kick out of doing this and it is helpful to show the role mordants play in natural dyeing. My results may not have been as bright because I was using what is technically called plant tops, not just the flowers. I didn't have it in me to cut each and every dime size flower.

As I said, St John's Wort is invasive and dangerous to cattle. If they eat it they can become so sensitive to the sun they literally sunburn to death. It was discovered that the least toxic and most effective way to get rid of the plant was to bring its natural predator over from its home environment. The black smudge in the middle of this image is a really pretty little iridescent beetle that does nothing with its day but suck the life out of St John's Wort. There is little chance of it becoming a pest as it doesn't eat anything else, just this plant. Once the plants are gone, there is no more beetle either.  This is a case in point for not hauling plant material and seeds from one continent to another. Anyway, I did my best to help the little guy out!

If you would like more concrete instructions, check out India Flint's Eco Colour and Jenny Dean's Wild Color. I improvised a bit with each set of instructions to be able to work with the materials I had on hand.

Monday, July 9, 2018


"Procrastination is not an excuse; it is a feeling of certainty that now is the time to wait."
Rhonda Uretzky