It’s great to have friends in various regions in the USA so that my natural dyeing can be supplemented by flora and fauna not available to a big city girl. So recently I received a bounty from friends in Texas and California, namely plum and maple leaves and “balls” from the sweet gum tree (also known as liquidambar).
I could not find any research predicting color from the sweet gum tree balls, but someone in Australia blogged that their gum tree leaves produce good color. Different species, different part of the plant. So I decided to experiment with the gum balls by soaking them in plain water and using the liquid to dye a few small pieces: yarn, hemp/silk fabric scrap, and cotton crochet piece. The warm brown tones achieved were similar to those I achieved when black walnut dyeing, perhaps a bit lighter.
Next I grabbed three varieties of leaves sent from Texas: plum, Japanese Red Maple, and Loropetalum (which I believe to be the Chinese fringe flower). Please keep in mind that I am not a botanist!
I arranged the leaves on a piece of hemp/silk fabric, shiny on one side and flat on the other side. The leaves were placed in a random pattern, along with a couple of marigold flower heads. The fabric–and I wish I had more of this lovely stuff–was rolled around a copper pipe and tied with cotton string. I was very pleased with the results! Thanks, Marilyn and Elizabeth!