"Rest and be thankful."
|This happened a few days ago. The season of rest is upon us.
"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
Robert Lewis Stevenson
|This fall's harvest, in part anyway. Tansy flowers at the back, safflower petals in the jar, horse chestnuts, acorns, and black walnuts.
I spared you the picture of the leaves being pressed and dried in a mountain of newspapers and cardboard weighted down by giant art books (see, the history of art does have practical uses) as well as the sleeping bag sized ziploc of avocado pits in the freezer. While not much into whole cloth dyeing these days it does pay to have some dyestuffs on hand to overdye with. The acorns are for tannin solution should the need arise and the horse chestnuts will supposedly make a laundry soap with a "blueing" effect-if you know what blueing was. Anyway, I thought it would be a fun experiment provided I can find the bookmark on my computer for the recipe. As I remember it is dependant on pH to a certain extent. The safflower petals are another experiment for the winter. While not known for being a completely permanent color (even though the ancient Egyptians used it as a dye) if done following exact directions it will impart pink to silk. We will see if I get it right. To my understanding even if I don't I will end up with a really lovely orange/yellow. Avocado pits also make a pink as well.
Over the last few years I have had a hard time making plans for the future. Can't imagine why, what with the Plague and all. I tend towards depression and anxiety anyway and wasn't doing all that well in 2019 to begin with. But, in the last few months I have decided to stick to my plan when I can't decide what to do. Pick the option that will offer the most options down the road. So, for instance, when on the fence about whether to do a particular art fair or not, go ahead and apply anyway. Burning $35-40 on an application isn't the end of the world and if accepted, I can decide at that point whether to accept and pay the booth fee later. If I hadn't applied, I definitely wouldn't be in the show.
That's kind of why I have been scurrying around like a squirrel this fall. As I said above, my emphasis is really on eco printing, not whole cloth dyeing. But having the dyestuff to work with does give me other options if an eco print doesn't "come out well", overdyeing can sometimes give you something so much better anyway. The other stuff just keeps me entertained! Last year the snow was so early that the leaves didn't change color, they just turned brown and crumbly on the trees and then hung on all winter. Strangest looking thing. So this year I made sure to get out and pick up some of my favorites for winter time eco printing.
Even though this is harvesting, it is a way to plant seeds of ideas for the future.
It is going to be another busy summer! Here is a list of where I know I will be so far:
Pottery Place Plus, 203 N Washington, Spokane, WA
The reception on May 5th includes a tea tasting! Click HERE for info.
6th and 7th
Moscow Renaissance Fair
City Park, Moscow Idaho
3rd and 4th
Troutdale Art Festival, Troutdale OR
Manito Art Festival
Manito Park, Spokane WA
More info about shows and classes coming soon!
|"Spill the Tea" my piece for the Tea Show at Pottery Place Plus.
"Despite the forecast, live like it's spring."
|This tiny little sprout will eventually become part of a scarf similar to the one below if we all hang on a bit longer.
|Spotted knapweed and arrowleaf balsamroot on silk crepe de chine
"A simple cup of tea is far from a simple matter."
Mary Lou Heiss
This turned into quite the project! I am still mulling over what exactly I will do with all this fabric, but in the meantime, here is what happened. As far as process goes, I let the various teas steep overnight and then used the liquid as a dye, vs. just dipping the fabric as one normally thinks of "tea dyeing". So I poured the liquid into a clean stainless steel pot, added enough water for the fabric to float freely and then simmered each one for about 30-40 minutes. All the silk broadcloth pieces for the herb teas were pretreated with alum. As you can see, the nettle did almost nothing, instead of green or yellow. This could be because it may not work as a dried plant, or it could be I didn't simmer it long enough.
|These are the herbal teas, hibiscus, comfrey (after an iron dip), chamomile (the type for tea, not the dyer's chamomile, so the yellow was a nice surprise), St John's Wort, and the last was nettle.
|The picture above and the ones below are all with a very strong brew of plain old black tea that I steeped overnight and again used as dye, so they were simmered about 30-40 minutes. The pretreatment of alum didn't seem to make much of a difference color-wise, but may add to longevity. Since tea is high in tannins I am not sure it would make a difference one way or the other. The samples on the left of all these images are just as the silk broadcloth came out of the dye pot. The samples on the right are after a dip in iron water. I did this to give myself more color options, and just to see what would happen.
|The fabric was rust treated with steel wool, so everywhere the tea interacted with the rust it turned black.
|The fabric had rusted nails laid out on it first, and again, when the tea and rust meet, the rust turned black.
I am betwixt and between as to what to do with all this. I had better make up my mind soon as the pictures and info about the piece are due at the end of the month! I found it interesting that when I was just sitting there looking at the first results I could not see the herbal tea fabric being used with the black tea fabrics at all, but when I did the iron dip on the black tea fabrics (turning it gray) other possibilities emerged. This is kind of how my head works anyway, the process of doing things inspires me, I just wish I were a little speedier at it is all.
"There is something about the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life."
Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living
I am participating in an exhibition in May that is all about tea. Today I started the process to dye fabrics for this piece having no idea what the final project will look like. I am generally inspired by materials, so I figured the way to get started, was, well, make the materials for the piece! The first thing to decide was should the work just involve only traditional black tea. Depending on the strength of the tea, how long you expose the fabric, or what mordants/adjuncts are used, the possibilities are probably endless. People make tea out of many different leaves and flowers not only for enjoyment, but medicinal use as well. I decided to look through my tea cabinet to see what the other options might be.
|In the event I want to use other colors besides "just tea" I gathered up bagged and loose teas that are also used in natural dyeing. After some research I decided to let them steep overnight to enhance (hopefully) the intensity of the colors. From left to right: Chamomile, St John's Wort, Comfrey, Hibiscus, Nettle. I am only going to be dyeing fat quarter size pieces of silk broadcloth, so this should be plenty.
|I also brewed up a medium size stock pot of plain old, very strong, black tea. This first go around I will be using a half yard of silk broadcloth treated with alum. I may do some sort of resists, various adjuncts, and vary the exposure time to get multiple tones. I have another untreated half yard reserved for other possibilities.