I have now cut up all the stitched pieces of cloth and reassembled them in a 3 metre long strip. Unsure where this is going. Am thinking I need a collection of strips but it is not practical that they all have the same level of intensive stitching. Am also aware of the need for whatever I do at the moment needs to be double sided.
Last night I finally managed to crack open my jar of fabric with honesty flowers in. The lid had stuck fast and all occupant to the house and several visitors had failed to get it off. The contents looked promising…
Said jar is on the far right and when the fabric came out it was a lovely shade of lavender. However when dry it was clear the colour was completely fugitive. I had expected this but felt I ought to try. Since for me colour is not a priority I will be happy with fifty shades of grey and will work with what I get
Meanwhile another cloth in a ‘before’ picture about to be completely transformed. While I really like it as it is it does rather look like a lot of other work around
Took a walk n the Common today without my faithful friend. Since he has become epileptic I find that he needs my full attention, so I reserve my walks with him merely for observation and a little light gathering. It is a very hot sultry day and I could hear the hum of the insects
One of my aims was to fine some suitable flora to refill some of my now empty jars. The above is a potential candidate. I also gathered some dock seeds and some blackberries.
They are now all sitting in jars of water. I am going to see what happens to the water before filling them with fabric. I suspect I need more of all.
Lots of flowers in bloom still to be spotted
However it is clear that seed and berry season will soon be upon us.
I returned from my holiday and checked on the jars that have been stewing gently on my conservatory windowsill. Since it has been very hot I decided that it was unlikely they would go any further – the liquid in the jars were all clear. I also want to try some more plants etc and there is a limit to the number of jars I have
As is soften the case with natural dyes some of the promise of depth of colour was lost when they were opened
This one is oak bark on alum mordanted cotton. It was originally very much like the birch bark from my previous experiments so I added some rusty nails. It has come out a pale mottled grey with some quite lovely marks including some tannish areas
This is the willow leaf and twig cloth I chucked in some copper staples which has definitely had some interesting effects
This one is the Forsythia mordanted with alum. This has come out a yellowy green – I was expecting more green than I achieved
This one is the cherry bark I was hoping for more pinkish tones but the mistake is mine. I added some vinegar when I should have added some alkali. I am going to repeat this experiment. I am still pleased with the results
Lastly and most interestingly I froze some elderberries last year. I kind of expected purplish colours and in the jar the fabric appeared black. I was surprised therefore with this result.
a beautiful shade of teal. I am well aware of the notorious fugitive reputation that elderberries have. I am interested to see whether the act of freezing has any effect on this. I am going to have another go with this years elderberries too without freezing.
I am working very much on the principle of the need to work with nature and not try to influence it too much. I am going to use what I achieve with no preconceptions and let it inform me of the next step. Thus if the fabric fades so be it I shall still use it.
I still have 2 jars of St Johns Wort, one jar of honesty flowers and a jar of birch bark which has yet to exhaust.
In the meantime I need to start thinking about how I am to work with my fabrics
I was delighted to find some St Johns Wort on the Common yesterday. It is a magical dye for wool and one can achieve a succession of different colours on wool from the flowers. However since I could only gather a small quantity and I am working on cotton I decided to bottle it and add to my collection. I am hoping for a mustardy yellow.
If I have time and I can gather sufficient flowers I am going to try and experiment with some wool.
Along with the paper, I have been busy printing on fabric, since the first leaves of the season give quite distinct results to those gathered later on in the year. All the leaves were gathered from the Common.
The most interesting prints achieved so far are from the willow. The photo does not do it justice.
I have been doing a lot of printing on paper. I am looking for new possibilities for collage on muslin. This selection is on cheap watercolour paper. I am always intrigued by the differing results gained by different papers. More results in another post
I am continuing to use the Common as a starting point for new work. During all the windy weather many birch trees came down and I have been collecting bits of the bark with the view to exploring its dye potential.
A rather lovely piece. The bit that has the dye in it is the layer of bark under the white outer. It was extremely difficult to prise it away from the wood. However I managed to put together enough for my purposes. I decided to use the ‘slow method’ of leaving it in a jar I wrapped one of the pieces of fabric in some old beer bottle tops also gathered from the Common. It has been stewing away on my window ledge for about 3 weeks. The intention was to leave it longer however I noticed this morning it was looking distinctly murky so I decided that enough was enough and I tipped the whole lot into a pan and then boiled it up to kill anything that was growing in it. These are the results
I think there is potential here and the whole process merits further investigation.
As a way of marking time more productively I am working on a new piece. It is constructed from some of the mass indigo session I had in the summer. Fabric is pieced then waxed and then washed leaving it with some body. The plan is to have a large cut work panel right down the middle.
As a way of marking time I thought I would make some waxed and printed bags. This I quickly abandoned when I realised that although I do not particularly like my machine I do need to keep it in some kind of working order and this was not the way to go. Instead rather than waste the material I decided to make some very simple vessels and once started I got a bit carried away. I had forgotten how much I like working in 3D. What I am going to do with them, I am as yet unsure. I like the way the light shines through them so maybe I will play a bit with that.