dye week again

The shop is empty of fabrics, so it was time to gear up again. I used an old piece from 2009 as a colour inspiration guide!

I do need to revive my indigo vat though for some blues and soft greens, and wind and prep some more thread skeins!

 

Well, these are a *bit* more vivacious than the “source” πŸ™‚ , but oh oh oh, such eye candy delights. It’s grey and smokey outside, neither summer nor fall, with only a liminal edge that says “day”, so i’m spending a lot of time in the Dye Dungeon. It’s therapy, passion, joy, science and chillin’ out all at once in these times πŸ™‚

Madder, cochineal, onion, marigolds and quebracho rojo on cotton and silk

Listings will start appearing in the shop on Sept 18. Live! Now! πŸ™‚

nope. and yes (growing indigo in Alberta).

Sometimes the “plan” gets forced. Usually doesn’t work.

Revamping idea for “Collige virgo rosas”: same velvets, different background. Don’t like this, or rather, don’t like them together.

Off to the dyepots today/this week. I have in mind some softer fabrics, softer colours AND dramatic colours on softer fabrics.

My Indigo suffruticosa has climbed now to a foot high! (Tongue in cheek. Deb’s got to 6 feet plus, have been harvested and processed already. Better to see the whole thing on her IG.) It got completely covered under 2 layers of heavy plastic when we had our first frost 2 nights ago, survived with no damage, nestled up to the tomatoes, and i will keep babying it as long as i can. Maybe bring in and put under proper growlights if i grab in time before a sneaky frost happens.

Considering how pathetic it looked a few days less than a month ago, and how late it is in the season, i can see some hope for next year! Above, Sept 9, below Aug 12.

Next year, i will definitely “poly tunnel” it from the start. It obviously *can* grow here WITH THOUGHTFUL INFORMED CARE, probably will get no bigger than a few feet, and likely won’t flower (much) but a few feet’s worth is still enough to harvest and use! (Just in case you haven’t see my other Ind suf posts, i am in Calgary Alberta, a tough grow zone, with shorter seasons, much cooler night temps in the summer, and frequent hail.)

Pick, girl, the roses

“Collige virgo rosas”, a Latin phrase found serendipitously on my birthday yesterday–i’m a Virgo, though i don’t believe in that either :)–it loosely is a carpe diem style saying for young people, but any of us can stop and smell the roses.Β  This will be the second of the Ensphere series. (First was “Sotto voce” in a previous post.)

I fell in love with these velvet dots when i was working on some of my moons a few years back, and woke one night with a whole series in my head. Of course, in daylight, all i remembered was lots of dots and Latin. I’m no completely dotty Yayoi Kusama, or a minimalistic Judy Martin, both of whom i admire greatly, for/from different perspectives, or a very organic Jude Hill, another of my absolute favourite artists (I’m sure you all know who she is, an article i wrote about her here), and circles crop up an immense amount it seems in Women’s Work (as the trope is….). I think with enough years put into one’s work, one eventually experiments with simplicity, and this is my time.

It’s not just the tidy shape, it’s the colours, textures, depth and light effects.

My start:

Look at these colours, swoon, natural dyes on silk/rayon velvet:

Madder, cochineal, and quebracho rojo, threads of cotton, silk/wool blend and silk in cochineal, madder, quebracho rojo, and no doubt some indigo with tansy, solidago or osage, for greens.

Sotto voce part 2

After smashing our trusty Nikon D90 last month, i’m still trying to get used to the new Settings and Things on the replacement, a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. Apparently i need to read the manual, go figure πŸ™‚

The Nikon would allow me on the automatic setting to get the most beautiful daylight shots that showed texture, true colour and fine detail. The Lumix does fantastic close-ups on several settings, but the light effects are not the same. I suppose i should be thankful though that testing it doesn’t ‘waste” film, HA.

So, with 4 different settings (that i of course did not take note of), here’s “Sotto voce” again with different looks. None of them portray it properly, so i guess that’s this evenings reading, and tomorrow’s testingΒ  on the to do list.

And those green dots are coming off, changing to the tawny fox and peachey colours instead. I have a few things more to do to it, and then it gets mounted, hopefully for a virtual exhibit. (If anybody from the fibre group i’m in ever answers my emails and FB questions that is………………………………….)

it (all) is what it is

Marigolds, indigo. I’m not that fond of yellow usually, except as smeeny accents, but if ya make ’em, ya should use ’em.

 

I slapped some paint on a couple of pages of my sketchbook, and there are tiny areas that got my juices going a little bit. No ” damn the torpedos, full speed ahead”, but small can be a reboot of sorts.

 

Finished, for a friend:

Thank goodness for small mercies, as i have the attention span of a gnat right now. Just sticking with small steps.

And also a teeny at 2.5″ square!

In the shop too πŸ™‚

 

 

Indigo in August

Oh my, this particular species (Indigofera Suffruticosa) does NOT like Calgary’s cooler nights! I noticed every time the temperature dips below 15C, it folds its leaves down, almost looking like the old “sensitive plant” mimosa pudica! We haven’t had many “heat waves” this summer either, a phenomenon in Alberta that is called hot when the temp goes to 28-30C (82.4-86F) for 2 days in a row πŸ™‚

OOO, it’s grown a magnificent 3″ since i transplanted the beginning of August. Much sarcastic joy.

But at the rate it’s grown since it was sown in the middle of May, i don’t hold out much hope for a crop beyond a few handfuls. I’ve tried moving it to a pot with richer soil than it had been started in, and have greenhoused it with a plastic bag suspended over a peony cage, with nothing to lose at this point. We’ll see how it does by the end of August. That’s when temps start dropping even more at night, sometimes down to 6C (42.8F). Not knowing either how “mature” a plant needs to be before harvesting also leaves me thinking there will be little indigotin in whatever i do manage to strip off. Deb’s is past the stage of growing, and is now processing hers and using it…..

I doubt i’ll get flowers, and if i do, i doubt even more that they’ll mature enough for me to collect seed for next year. I’ll chance planting next spring the seeds i have leftover from Deb in Texas this year, but since indigo is notorious for needing fresh seed for each year, who knows what the germination rate, if any, will be. I may try a different indigo type next year, as my first grow attempt in 2014, was Polygonum/Persicaria tinctorium which grew to a very leafy 3 foot height before it was destroyed by hail, another Alberta garden fact.

I have also realized that the way our townhouse is situated that it’s unlikely i will ever have a stupendous garden here, even as tiny and easily manageable labour wise as it is. Late May and June’s sunlight was magnificent, but of course as the angle of the earth turns through the seasons, much less full sunlight hits the backyard…… I REALLY miss the daylong full on Southern exposure the Old House had!!!!!!!!!!!!!

madder returns, and baby blue hopes

So………………..this is the culmination of 3 and a half years of growing madder. There were 4 winters in that time span, and the first three i had the good fortune of a large garden, where the huge pot could be heeled in (buried and well covered in other words) for our harsh winters. Not so with the recent move and downsizing though: i kept the pot against our sunny house wall by the heat escape vents, wrapped and covered it well, but no growth at all when spring started. Time to “harvest” roots, regardless, as madder is good to dig up in at least it’s third year (5 is optimum apparently).

I dumped the pot, and pawed through it, working as fast as possible because there was a new ant home in the bottom (i HATE ants: they creep me out, have done since i saw Salvador Dali’s “Un Chien Andalou” when i was 16…..) and was very disappointed. Not only did the roots never get below the depth of half the pot, but they were SMALL, stringy and unfortunately, had started to rot. POOP.

I ended up with 65 grams of “fresh” root, which as i understand means they would dry down to about one sixth of that, not quite 11 GRAMS…… I can see a red tint to them, but am not hopeful for good depth. I will use as soon as i can because they don’t *have* to be dry to use, though it’s suggested that letting them “age” develops more of the alazarin. (Although as i hit “publish” on this post, i note they have been drying now for 32 days, admittedly a far cry from drying for a year πŸ™‚ ) I won’t be trying to grow it again as our new garden space is too tiny to heel anything in, and seriously, the “return” on all the effort was not worth the effort… If i ever win the lottery, and have my big space in the country and a proper greenhouse, well, then we’ll revisit that.

Most of the Indigo suffruticosa seeds i planted did pop up. I lost a couple to drying out, because of the winds we’ve had lately, and due to the fact that Calgary is very dry at the best of times. I’m not assuming these will get as big as they grow in Texas at Deb’s though (SHE”S HARVESTING ALREADY!), because we have a shorter growing season, much cooler nights (due to our altitude) and so far this season not a lot of heat….. They did manage to get through 3 hail storms unscathed, probably because they are so tiny! I’m going to cloche them for awhile, trying to keep some heat in, and hopefully they will get big enough that i can get something. I still have a very tiny harvest from my first indigo Persicaria tinctoria attempts at the old house–a handful stored dry since 2015! (Edit: Even cloching these babies didn’t do much though they did double in size in a week. Still pretty teeny! And i don’t know if a bug/virus got them, or it’s the cold weather, but they are all spotted.)

I’ve decided in future, i won’t be sharing much about the actual process of natural dyeing, just the results. I get a fair number of hits on my “how to/how i did it” posts, but since 99.9% of readers don’t acknowledge even with a simple “thank you”, it seems rather pointless. (I’m sure it also bores the hell out of my readers that don’t care about that part of the process.) I seriously think schools have done a poor job teaching anyone HOW to research correctly, but i ain’t getting into that. All i can say is “just because it’s on the internet, or “popular”, doesn’t make it true”.