Spring 2016 in Oxford, North Canterbury

Catching the spring before it fades…

A low of -1 degrees Celsius overnight, but a clear blue sky this morning means now I can get the washing dried on the line!  Snow on the mountains arrived as well.  I could not resist taking the camera out to record the plants in the garden.

I always fight between clearing or not clearing the ‘weeds’ as clearing them disturbs everything in the flower beds.  Then when the dry, hot days arrive I think the weeds would help to keep the soil moist.  But I know that the strong weeds would overtake the cultivated plants.  The vegetable and fruit trees and bushes are looking at their best just now.  Lots of Ladybirds – hope they and the birds do a good job controlling the aphids.  It is a balancing act between taking action and just observing.  A new location brings a new set of conditions.  I am intrigued at the different biodiversity existing in two locations 2 kilometres apart from each other.  We have fewer birds and habitats for them here than at the last place.  I’ve started reading my permaculture book again.  Need a jungle.

There are some lovely black blue iris flowers just opening – will they make some dye?

My painting, the last image, now looks just like Spring!

 

Solar Dyes: From Purple and Red to Green

Spring brought the peonies, one of which had deep red petals which went into a dye pot with pieces of silk, wool and cotton.

Peony-picture.jpg

Painting of Aoraki – Mt Cook behind the flowers is by John Horton.  These peonies were a gift from Viv and Nancy!

This is the amazing colour that appeared…Peony.jpg

My next test was with a ‘new’ kumara variety called Purple Dawn.  [Kumara is a sweet potato, which Maori brought with them to New Zealand.]  My friend Casey Macaulay told me how she had experimented painting with the red cooking water and how when vinegar was added the liquid turned bright green – I just had to try for myself.  The silk and cotton absorbed the red colour, but the paper was different as seen below.  I forgot to wash the kumara, and I think the ‘bits’ in the dye came from the skin.

The green-yellow fabric at the top is old cotton t-shirt rag, I had the same pink/green result when I dropped the dye onto the surface.  The dark dye brush mark is with vinegar added, the pink mark is straight out of the solar dye jar.  Note how the silk and cotton stay pink.

Purple-Dawn-Kumara-1.jpg

For the next test I cleaned, peeled and shredded the kumara, and added some sodium acetate to a separate portion of the dye.  The vinegar (sodium acetate) did turn the dye green, but the colours were so different. I probably should not have prepared the kumara quite so much!   Casey has different water to us so that may explain the paler green results I had.

 

Purple-Dawn-kumara.jpg

By this time I was getting really confused by these results – you probably are too (!); I did a further test in my workbook to see if the paper there gave different results.  When I put a blog together I try to get the photo image colours correct (via Photoshop).  Here however,  if I alter the pink, the green is wrong.  So I would comment that in the scan of the workbook page below –

The top left blob has a distinct dark purple edges and the overall colour is slightly green with a purple tinge

The top right hand brush stroke should be pinker

Both the Kumara No 1 tests colours should be bluer

The Kumara No 2 tests; neither should be so green…the one on the left is a pale brown.

Kumara-workbook1

If you are still with me, there is more!

My next solar dye was with the paler red peonies (in the photograph at the top). The silk and cotton took up the dye with no problem, but the addition of some vinegar brightened the colour on the silk and cotton.

Pale-peony.jpg

Hollyhock petals were collected during the summer of 2013/2014 in the old garden; I kept these in the freezer.  I tried  India Flint’s ice-flower dye method as described in her book Eco Colour whereby you place the frozen petals directly into warm water, but the water I used was hot.  The result was almost instantaneous – a deep dark red.  I put silk and knitted cotton in the solar dye.  The knitted cotton only partly submerged and what emerged was a mix of pink-red and green – again.  I also added some vinegar and salt to portions of the dye.  Images below.

Hollyhock.jpg

The bright green mark at the centre of the knitting was caused by the sample left to dry over a piece of metal.  The grey colour that appears sometimes is where the material was not completely submerged but some colour has been transferred by osmosis it would seem.  I do fold or scrunch up the cloth as well and for these tests am not bothered by colour variations .

Hollyhock-test.jpg

Later I used the original dye for further tests.  Just great colour harmonies here.  Green and blue-green marks made by copper pipe.  The paper is kozo.

Hollyhock-2nd-test.jpg

Hollyhock-Kozo.jpg

 

Hollyhock-copper-pipe.jpg

Hollyhock-green.jpg

In these tests, all the silk and cotton was originally white and unwashed, no mordants used, just the salt and vinegar added afterwards to separated amounts of dye liquid.  The chemicals in the paper seem to affect the dyes.  I could try applying soy milk to the paper and letting it dry before painting  on the dye.

Object or Thing

Cannot add more to this piece of work.  It sat there for a while, rolled up in the old bible box that my Grandmother used as a hat box (she had wonderful hats).  Then the other night I finished off the bottom right hand corner.  A little piece of family genealogy there, to me anyway…

IMG_0313

 

Lying flat on the table, it is a thing.  Nothing wrong with being ‘a thing’ – it seems things in our lives are interconnected with our brains and consciousness and make us what we are, allowing us to make new connections.  Is it more interesting as a thing or an object now that I have fastened to the wall?  Does it take on a new identity?  Or has it lost its becoming and is now static – I won’t say dead.   Its new persona invites new becomings, however.

 

 

Object

 

 

hatbox

 

Lovely design on the ‘hat box’.

Green dye from Black Turtle Bean

Following on from the previous post about black bean dye –

The next day, bicarbonate of soda was added to the Black Turtle Bean solar dye.  Colour changed to green and this colour transferred to the un-mordanted silk and cotton scraps.

This test needs to be redone; the bicarb was added to the original dye which was probably a bit tired – the beans were ‘going off’ at the time.

 

Black-turtle-bean-green-1

 

 

I also added to the solar dye pot some rolled-up paper, but the green disappeared into a brown-green when applied to paper.   Something in the paper which is photocopy paper reacting with this dye.  Where the pools of dye were deeper the green colour is just apparent.  This paper is stuck onto the test page and covered the swatches in the above image, hence the change of page direction!

Green-turtle-bean-on-paper

 

 

 

Black Turtle Bean, dye

Saw Grackleandsun‘s blog on black bean dyeing, so I thought I would add this information on my recent test.  I used Black Turtle beans – not sure if these are the ones used in dyeing by Grackleandsun, but according to Wikipedia – “Black turtle bean is a small, shiny variety of common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), especially popular in Latin American cuisine, though it can also be found in Cajun and Creole cuisines of south Louisiana. They are often called simply black beans.”

I coloured mordanted cotton and non-mordanted silk and also used the dye straight from the solar dye pot on the page.  it gave a lovely colour.  Eventually the jar did rather pong!

Anyway, here’s the page from my test book;

Turtle-Bean-dye-test-page

Kozo Tea Iron

This latest experiment was about getting a contact print through an immersion in a cold dye, in this case tea. I used two strips of dry folded kozo paper that I had previously drawn on with sumi ink;  one piece was held together with a metal bull dog clip.  A stack of dry printmaking paper was interlaid with leaves and seeds,  then sandwiched between two sheets of perspex and clipped together with paper clips.  All three packages were immersed in the tea dye container for a few hours.  The darker dye (caused by the metal clip in the tea) remained in situ around the bundle while the liquid was motionless.  As I removed the papers I could see the reaction of the iron on the tea slowly take place over the rest of the dye and turn it completely black.

The kozo paper was squeezed in the hand when taken out of the tea dye to get the lovely ’embossing’ (the photo does not really do it justice).  I am very pleased with the abstract nature of the results, even though the plant material left little in the way of images on the printmaking paper, but there are some impressions – a trace of the leaves on some sheets.  There are also a few traces of other colours from the plant material.  Some of the seeds left a darker spot on the paper.

There is a tension here (freedom and control) between allowing enough moisture into the stack and the pressure required to achieve images of the plant material.  Perhaps the paper in the stack should have been damp which might have allowed more wicking of the dye.  Needs more investigation.

Some of the tonal variation occurred as the printmaking paper was removed from the stack.  I tried to restrict disturbing the remaining dye but some of this did happen of course!  The printmaking paper has much value as a base layer for further work.

 

Kozo-and-print-paper

Explore Find Collect Discover

Progressing with my little piece of fanciful endeavour. The weather is too hot to do much but I am enjoying this evening pastime.  Trying to contextualise this piece, I found it lends itself to ‘something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue’.  The ‘borrowing’ comes from Spirit Cloth, so thanks to Jude for her inspiration and putting me on yet another path.

It is quite difficult to find suitable, old, worn cloth, but I realise I have to collect all my textiles and yarns in one spot – I seem to be endlessly looking for where I have stashed them – and since we moved they could be anywhere!  I am using fabric dyed last year, snippets of my mother’s dressmaking, her box of embroidery threads, my threads from those I collected decades ago and even some old silk velvet from my sister’s mother in law.  The cloth (dyed in tea) with the holes was an old pillowcase into which we used to put horse riding gear when it was being machine washed.  The ‘something new’ is the print of the mallow plant growing in the new garden.

I really like the feel of the layers of cloth and the abstract forms created by the stitching on the reverse of the piece.  The space created by the circle (top left) seems to suggest landscape, or a vista.  It is the only part that has visual depth.  What to do next…

Piece