As much as i love the “Grand Teint” dyes, the historically accurate tried and true, there *are* other geo-centric plants that are still considered dependable methods of colouring fibre. I’d like to use more of these in my studio, with the proper applications and methods used. (No beets, beans or berries in this Dye Dungeon!) You could call this one “loakal” ๐Ÿ™‚

The only oak that is indigenous to, and survives the hard winters of Alberta, is the Bur Oak.ย  When i first started ecoprinting in 2010, i couldn’t find any, though i figured someone had ONE in their area somewhere, since i saw one of the leaves floating in the river ๐Ÿ™‚ย  In the last three years however, they are aplenty, due to the city’s replanting along boulevards and green spaces. My neighbourhood now probably has at least 20 of them, but none on my street!

Recovering from ‘Snowtember’ 2014, Recovery and restoration of Calgary’s urban forest

In September 2014, a late-summer snow storm affected Calgaryโ€™s urban forest. Trees that had not yet lost their leaves were heavily weighed down by snow, causing trunks and branches to break. Of the 227 communities in Calgary, 148 with mature canopies were particularly impacted by the snow.

It is estimated that 50 per cent of the 500,000 public trees and 1.5 million private trees have been impacted. This means there are three times as many damaged trees on private property as there are on City land. Recovering from this storm will require us as a city and a community to look after our trees.

Out of this disaster, The City created the ReTree YYC program to work on the recovery and restoration of the urban forest. This recovery work started immediately after the storm and will continue over the next three years. This work will ensure we have a strong and resilient canopy for generations to come.

This is the snowstorm took half of our 90 year old apple tree!

I know that oaks give colours from beige, to yellows, to various greens and browns, depending on what part it is (leaf, bark or gall/”oak apple”), and what mordant or modifier is used, and that those can be base colours for overdyeing, or warm earthy shades to be used on their own. I don’t have a lot of these shades in my naturally dyed thread box bin yet, as i’ve been concentrating on brights, deep rich rainbows and exciting greens, all of which is kind of funny now, since when i started on the “natural” kick, i had to use commercially dyed browns….

Oak is also rich in tannins, from any part of the tree. I collected a few galls as well this fall, something i’ve never seen before here. At the very least, my fabrics will be pre-mordanted correctly!

Yesterday, the DogFaced Girl helped me stuff a large grocery bag with fallen oak leaves (faded to brown, not like the green above from several weeks ago). That girl is such a help on these walks ๐Ÿ™‚ I didn’t weigh the amount, just stuffed a 16L pot, with about 12 litres of hard tap water, simmered them for 2 hours, threw in a skein of thread and left it overnight to stew and cool. (I just realized too the thread had already been premordanted, so will have to try one that hasn’t been…)

Because the pot is so full of leaves, the thread was somewhat constricted, so the dye job is a bit patchy in uptake, which is okay because i love variegated threads ๐Ÿ™‚ This is still wet in the photo, but isn’t it a pretty gold?

Yeah, yeah, i know, the number of plants that give this range of colours is humungous. The point is though, that it IS an actual dye (and tannin), and as i noted, a good base. And i did it.

I threw the skein back in the pot, wanting to see if i could get an even deeper shade with longer soaking, and will add more premordanted and unmordanted threads, and a couple of hunks of fabric as well. Tests at the end of the week will be overdyes, post mordanting and post modifying.

And Nessie and will be going on another long walk with more bags, as the leaves can be dried and stored for later use, during out long cold hard Calgary winter.



2 responses to “foraging

  1. I can imagine coming back from a forage and stuffing leaves in a pot but In the dungeon you really need a large cauldron . . . Iโ€™ll allow you to forgo the open fire but I think it necessary to let out the odd cackle. The gold looks gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

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