winter dye adventures, part 3, weird science

Well, mixed results! Surprising results. Chemistry is very obviously at play here, in the purest sense of the word. Playing with me: blues and purples from the privet berries showing in the pot, dark greys and deep greens when they come out and are still wet, drying to shades of celadon, ghosted sea blue, odd mixes with tansy and madder (all on silk hab), wonderful jades in the threads (silk and wool), brilliant with soda ash modifier. Iron didn’t do much at all, not saddening or shifting shade deeper.

Leaves and stalks(twigs/fine branches) hardly worth it, a really pale yellow on the threads,which surprised me, because they are usually the more reliable dye source.Β  I threw those into the berry pot too, as they are so wishy-washy as to be pointless.

Berries? Sort of a greeny grey green, like faded Celadon (?). ImPOSSible to photograph, so here, like this:



Updated as i write this post: my expensive DSLR camera could not capture the colours, no matter what i did in terms of lighting conditions, but the cheap camera on the cellphone worked. More weird science, go figure.


BUT, will they be lightfast?

Regardless of all this, i probably won’t be dyeing with privet again. It’s toxic, it’s expensive and it has to be imported, even if the importing is from BC πŸ™‚ Still, it was a nice little interlude, and learning experience in the wintery season of Calgary! And after a couple of weeks, if they don’t fade, they will be added to the thread and scrap arsenal.

Now back to the monumental stitching.


Posted by on February 17, 2017 in Dyeing, Ecoprints and Natural Dyes, privet


winter dye adventures, part 2

The big question of course is, are these lightfast? Some one said no, but Ethel says yes πŸ™‚ Old dye books sometimes have erroneous recipes and results though. And dandilion roots STILL don’t give magenta, pink or purple πŸ™‚


Most of the threads and silk chunks are still in the pot, marinating as long as possible, but i removed a few pieces to test some modifiers. (The only mordant so far has been alum.)

privet-various-mord-modsOn the two yellows left, which were from the first teeny pot, the soda ash (alkali) really brightened it, but vinegar (acid) seems to have stripped out the colour on the bottom!! The berries gave a completely different colour, something that *doesn’t* always happen. The alum mordant alone gave a lovely greyed shade, while soda ash turned it green, and vinegar changed the shade SLIGHTLY more blue (barely worth it.)


I’ll test too an iron mordant to see if it darkens, changes hue or can’t be bothered to do anything πŸ™‚

Stay tuned for part 3, sometime at the end of the week.

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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in Ecoprints and Natural Dyes, privet


winter dye adventures, part 1

I always forget that i have access to plant materials that are suitable for dyeing with! Though i enjoy my DayJob, i try not to bring it home, except for the occasional orchid bloom, one gerb, some old roses, or the rare exotic specimen, but a few days ago paging through the FB dross and pearls, i chanced upon some of Morgen Bardati’s work, and lo and behold–a gorgeous deep green from privet. And privet just happens to be “seasonal” right now, though an import still, and since it readily falls apart, and one crappy scrappy stem is usually left after arranging with flowers, it behooved me to bring some home and try it.

Had to do a little research first, as i was afraid it was one of those temperamental ineedtobefresh things. Not a lot online but i did discover that it’s TOXIC, to humans AND animals. As with *all* natural dyes, i NEVER EVER NEVER assume—Β  just because it’s “natural” does NOT mean it’s SAFE. Seriously, some natural dyes are as scarey as synthetics, so don’t fall for the kitchenscrap all encompassing goodness that some sites breathily exclaim is so pure/eco-conscious/earthmagic.

So, the most i could find was boil up the leaves, chopped stems and (bruised) berries, throw in some alum, and see what happens.

Meh. Mind you, my first experiment was with a (gloved!) handful of berries and one chopped up stem/branch, so there wasn’t a lot of colour, but it did colour, and the colour was decidely green. Pale green. Again, small amount of plant material.

More research yielded up using salt–i’m guessing Glauber’s Salt, a chemical used by a lot of wool dyers. Not table salt, as again the Ensorcelled Cauldron Witches would have you believe toΒ  “set” colours, but Sodium Sulphate. Well, i don’t have any, but it *is* a chemical used in making soda ash, and that i have, so i threw a wee bit of that in.

Instant colour change. Yellowy-greeny-yellow. Standard plant colour from a million plants!!!!!!

So, it being the time of year when we are ordering a lot of stuff for Valentine’s Day, i asked for a whole bunch of it for myself to play with.

privetI added the chopped stems and leaves to the first pot and the second pot was just the berries.

No greens however, as i saw in Morgen’s photo…………

Because the first pot had soda ash in it, my threads (silk and wool) and silk scraps are yellowy.


The berry pot *looks* exciting, but i’m betting i’ll get greyed tones with a HINT of lavender, not the purple here.

privet-berries-dyebath-aΒ  These pots will sit for a couple of days at least.

Further tests will be done with different mordants and modifiers later in the week, as will light fastness tests. If i get the colours i think i’m going to end up with, i won’t use privet again. You never know though what results you will get, due to the season, where the material came from, how fresh it is and what your water does. It’s good to experiment, but not all outcomes are worth repeating, even if “successful”—as i have often mentioned, you can get yellow from so many local plants that specialty ordering is not the way to go. (The privet is not cheap, being $45 for FIVE branches–and yes i got a discount as staff so paid half of that, but still……)



There was quite a bitter exchange on one of the natural dye groups i’m in, with one ecoprinter getting all huffy saying that “Are you people mad, eco dyeing causes no harm.Listen lady there are groups that have been doing this eco dyeing for years, I suggest you research that and them and stop pulling yr hair out. ” WHAT THE FUCK???? This is exactly the mind set that reputable, safety conscious, responsible dyers get our panties in knots about. If you want to poison yourself, your dog or kids and husbands, by all means cook up that possibly toxic plant in the same pot you cook the soup in. That would be called Darwinian Karma. However, if you do the research, you’ll know what the possible dangers are.





Posted by on February 15, 2017 in Ecoprints and Natural Dyes, privet


everybody loves somebody sometime




feelin’ the love (sort of)

As many of you know, i am a floral designer by day, and this being Valentine’s Day “week”, i haven’t had much stitching time! It’s been more stressful this year, when people seem to forget it’s the same day EVERY YEAR DUH (and wait until the last minute, and then bitch because we’ve run out of things), but our flowers were stuck in the mountains for 48 hours due to the road and weather conditions! You should have seen me beetling around yesterday, “power arranging” vases and bouquets, making up for the days we couldn’t do it! I’m thinking of adding a “F***you Fee” to difficult customer orders…….


Every minute counts though, and a stitch here and there adds up. I’m loving this blue variegated on the axons and ganglia!





Posted by on February 7, 2017 in embrilting, in progress


break on through to the other side

Since when do i have to “finish” a section before i move to the next? Perhaps that “drag point” merely means it’s time to move on to something else to stop the dragging of heels?


The other side is the same, but different πŸ™‚ I decided to further “fragment” some of the hex/memory symbols, by using the blue and the red together behind. One or two of the smaller areas will be solid blue, but more of the red will be used, as i want this side to be more of the compartmentalizing and fracturing symbolism. The threads too will echo this, partly because the effect works, and partly because i have to marshall my stash carefully, as some of these threads can’t be replaced/re-ordered. Working the materials in this one is definitely a case of use what you have and don’t buy more, and more importantly, don’t change the plan just because you ran out of something!

It was also time to pin up on the wall, and see the whole. When you work by hand like this, and in intense areas, it gets a little myopic.


GADZOOKS! It sure FEELS like there’s more done…… (And the top third isn’t even in the photo…..)Β  Okay, well, considering how much hand work has gone into this, yes i have so done a lot. I *do* see progress, i like the feel, and while i was a tad concerned the red would be too powerful, i can see that in value, it pretty much “matches” the other side. Not that i worry about “matching”, but the eye must travel properly.



Posted by on February 7, 2017 in in progress