Blooming Eco-plants & Project Deux

My eco-plants are blooming, which is making me very pleased and excited for the coming season of eco-printing and natural dyeing.  Some of these plants are newish–just planted last autumn–so they have not been tested yet.  Primarily I am talking about the Japanese maple tree and lily of the valley, both of which appeared to be dying last winter.  But they are alive!

Lily of the valley plant in bloom
Japanese maple looking very much alive!

I know that the Japanese maple leaf will probably print well, as friends gave me samples last “printing” season.  I’m unsure what can be done with the lily of the valley, but I really planted it because I have fond memories of collecting these for the May Queen (Catholic grade school).

And then there are last year’s proven eco-printers:  wild rose, golden barberry and false indigo (turns yellow instead of blue).

Wild rosebushes (left) and golden barberry (right)
Japanese (false) indigo plant just sprouting (dark green, center)

And one last note:  I have been working on slow-stitching Project Deux, which started out as our planetary system but which is now evolving in a different way.  Stay tuned.

Project Deux

Contemplating Cloth: SunMoonStars

The fact is, I am not all that pleased with my SunMoonStars cloth.  It doesn’t look like I wanted it to be, like I had imagined it to be.  Perhaps I was imagining cloth similar to Spirit Cloth’s many lovely versions by Jude Hill.  Or perhaps like the ones I have seen within her Circle of friends.

I may need to begin again.  Start over.  With new/old cloth.

SunMoonStars in progress…but I may start over.
SunMoonStars in progress…but I may start over.  

But in the meantime, I hauled in two big scores this week:  black walnut hulls and florist’s eucalyptus.  Thank you, my son, Matt–for the walnuts. Thank you, Whole Foods, for finally stocking fresh eucalyptus.

Black walnuts, ready to be smashed and cooked
Black walnuts, ready to be smashed and cooked

I will be dyeing, boiling and eco-printing tomorrow.  And thinking about a new constellation for SunMoonStars.

Scored large at Whole Foods:  Fresh Eucalyptus for Dyeing
Scored large at Whole Foods: Fresh Eucalyptus for Dyeing

Natural Dyes…with a little help from my friends

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.

Naturally dyed with sweet gum tree balls: hemp/silk, wool yarn, cotton crochet
Naturally dyed with sweet gum tree balls: hemp/silk, wool yarn, cotton crochet
Sweet Gum tree balls (liquidambar)
Sweet Gum tree balls (liquidambar)

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!