deception/disappointment/disavowal in the avocado pot

Though i was intending to leave much of the test fabrics and threads in the dyepot longer, i couldn’t resist cutting a few pieces from them, and pulling them out. You’d think with the appearance of that pot above, that the colours would be a HELL of a lot deeper. I could have totally conveniently “forgotten” to post all this, lessening the chance of public embarrassment, but hey, it doesn’t work all the time, and usually because we don’t follow the instructions, so live, learn, laugh and take the lumps ๐Ÿ™‚

CRAP, these are undeniably CRAP. Definitely not enough plant material in comparison to the fabics (WOF in other words)!ย  Admittedly, i had maybe a scant 50 grams of the peels………. I’ve been told the best ratio here is 2:1, so i was waaaaaaaaaay off base with that, duh duh duh. Strangely, the cottons seem to have better uptake than the silk and the wool this time.ย  The blotches are because they floated up during the night, and were exposed to air, the tannin then oxidizing. I think too, my pot is a bit too alkaline though, and that’s why i have browner tones. HOWEVER, there IS colour uptake, but undoubtedly, irrevocably, clearly, not enough peels.

The remaining stewing peels had a glug of ammonia added yesterday, and holy crap, there’s more colour left! I shook the bottle to show the colour splash ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m assuming these then are Hass avocados, reputedly the best for colouring. So, i’ll combine the two extractions, and the first dyed pieces, trusting that the strange chemical mix will give me something ๐Ÿ™‚ย  (If i don’t blow up the house.) I’m calling this experiment not quite a failure, but a learning experience: DON’T CHEAP OUT ON THE DYE MATERIALS. If it’s worth doing, do it right, otherwise all i can chalk this up to is a waste of water, time and effort.

The pits that are soaking are more weightwise, but need to stew longer.

Note: buy more avocados for lunch.


As a side note about the importance of scouring, i thought i had done enough on a new thread, but when i put them in tannin, this happened:

GREEN?????? I contacted Maiwa, my trusted supplier, and asked if perhaps it had been the soda ash in the initial scouring that had reacted (maybe not rinsed enough), as gallnut is a clear tannin, and stays to the “browner” tones after being used and stored. Nope.

Hi Arlee,

This is rare but it does happen, but it is not from the soda ash. Fabrics are often pretreated and contain substances which can leach out or react with the mordant. When used on itโ€™s own Maiwaโ€™s gallnut extract is usually a clear/colourless tannin. I would suggest trying other cotton fibres from different sources and comparing the results.


So, obviously, i did NOT scour as well as i should have, and am thinking this could also be the problem with some fabrics i’ve had problems with, particularly new ones (not second hand, recycled, etc). I don’t generally use new fabrics, but maybe some of the stuff i’ve purchased second hand were new enough that these chemicals were still in them. Something to think about! I had noticed there was more “colour”/precipitate in the wash pot after, but thought all had been removed from the threads. I’ll be doing all the scouring from now on with fabrics/threads that appear in better condition then (ie “newer”) for 2-4 hours, as per J. Liles recommendation. (I scour PFD fabrics as well, as i don’t trust that everything has been removed!)

The green didn’t rinse out of the threads either!

EDIT: i decided NOT to mix the two extractions of the avocado peels. I’ve dumped the first “batch”, rinsed the fabric and threads, and put together in cleaned pot with the second extraction.


working with space

IF you count that corner of the table where the pocket lies with a pencil on top of it…….

I’m HYPER neat and organized at the Day Job, but it never seems to carry over to the home studio.

I categorized this post as “Deliberation–do something you don’t do–or haven’t in awhile”, because obviously, cleaning this up hasn’t happened “in awhile”…….

summer study

I’ve decided since i am much a gadfly these past few months with everything but dyeing, that the summer is going to be devoted to studying madder.

Previous to October of last year, my results were weak, embarrassing forays into pale pinks and peaches, ordinary orange, and unenthusiastic brawny beiges when the pot gave out . (HA, that was supposed to be “browny” not “brawny, but some of them were rather beefy! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Somehow the magic clicked on October 3 and i finally got RED, red in all its permutations. Though i previously kept notes, i’m not sure why it hadn’t worked until that magic day–heat? Amount/WOF? Improper mordanting? Dunno, don’t care, because whatever it is i’m doing now is working.

I’ve run out of my Maiwa kilo of madder, but managed to scrounge around the Dye Dungeon and found this:

An extremely fine powder, probably due to its age, i encased it in a nylon pantyhose foot. It’s not only a pain in the bazotski shaking powder out of threads and yarns, but it wastes the bits as well, which may still have some colour left.

Alas,ย  Wide World of Herbs Ltd was dissolved in 1985, long before the web was prevalent, so there’s NOTHING about them, their products or where this madder actually came from. I would like to have supported them, as they were based in Montreal, Quebec (yes, that is SO in Canada ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Next best thing, THE best thing now is to buy from Maiwa. (Ordered this morning!)

(In one or two years, i can harvest roots from my own “home grown”.)

I do love red. Before i got into using natural dyes, ecoprinting and rust, which resulted in a lot of earthy neutrals and vintage-y colours, i used a LOT of red in my work. It was unconscious (subconscious?), because i always thought i loved orange. I still do, but in smaller slices and dibs! Red evokes so much to so many, everywhere in the world, politically, spiritually, emotionally, artistically.

Now this isn’t meaning that *i* am going to discover a New madder colour. Look at all of them! There are many more experienced dyers, researchers, scientists and hobbyists who get these results, than this one little personal Dye Dungeon. I however want to know what *i* will get, in my “conditions”–water, heat, the madder i use, the methods i use.

I’d rather be doing something, than the whole lot of nothing that has been going on!

galium, part two

Sad, veryย  very sad.

Granted, i had a really small amount of roots, but i’m not sure (yet) that this was worth it! This “red” has a quite brown tone to it, but of course, the proof will be in using it. I’m still waiting for pre-mordanted fabrics to be finished ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m thinking however, that whatever results i get, this was a valuable experiment in growing my own dye, processing it, and using it. You don’t know if you don’t try!

about “shop updates”

It seems every time i do this, i lose a few followers, at least on FB! Please remember that small businesses/artists need support too–especially since i myself am temporarily no longer a “floral arranger”/”employee” by day.ย  Some/most of us do not work for conventional employers, whether by choice, or because of need for childcare that necessitates someone staying home, or living in a place where jobs are few and far between, or that geography says it’s too far to commute to! You get one of a kind items this way, made with skill and care, unique viewpoints and representations, often created with original to the maker supplies too, and passion and intent. We can’t just show you what we’re doing: it has to pay for itself, pull its own weight, fly out into the world. Some of us are not just artists, but WORKING artists–and working artists make art/things for sale, not just to pretty up a blog or Instagram.

An artist/maker spends time not only making the product, but developing the skills sometimes for years, doing the initial sketches or design work,ย  gathering the supplies, setting up a work space, photography and editing after, listing the product, packaging when sales are made, schlepping them to the post office, buying special envelopes for some work, and has to pay fees as well to keep the business going, from shop fees, to financing charges, more supply buying and a host of little things that are peculiar to each artist. I don’t mean any of this to offend anyone, am not begging, and certainly am grateful when someone appreciates what i do by opening their wallet. BUT things, “products”, Art, stuff, never spring magically from “a sweated brow”on to a for sale page with no thought or effort beforehand ๐Ÿ™‚ It doesn’t just get THUNK into existence: there’s WORK first. I keep my prices low, given the amount of effort/skill/vision that goes into them, and having seen some sell smaller less involved bits for more coin,ย  it sometimes really depresses me, when they’re shocked that i would have the Audacity to actually want good coin, not a token of “faith” in my pocket. There are times when i just want to give up, quite honestly.

On the other hand, i’ve had well meaning friends and family say some of my prices are too “low”, and yes, i’ve always subscribed to the “some bucks is better’n no bucks” theory, but i know what has gone into those particular efforts, and am comfortable with what i asked for ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve had queries about specific pieces that i have shown in my galleries here, things i *might* like to sell to a good home, but have not actively pursued a sale, or even a hint of one, and after a few back and forth emails, when they find out the price–because my bigger pieces, my more involved pieces are more expensive because they were a hell of a lot more work, not only in size, but in execution and skill — *cricket noises*, no further communication, not even a “thanks for answering, but regretfully, no thanks” response. I get that you thought because you bought a piece 6 years ago for $75, that you might figure one of my massive works is only double that now, but that’s not how it works. I know too that active, dedicated, supporters of textile art don’t always have money, and that too, some figure because they have supported someone before, that they should get a deal. I’m happy to work out a payment plan for something already produced, and have on occasion happily done commissioned work on a payment plan as well.

Do you want something that lasts? Are you the kind of shopper that only buys things that *immediately* gratify you? Are you making an investment in your own happiness, or just to fill your belly, impress someone else, keep up with a trend? I’m constantly remembering customers at the flower mines who would decry that “flowers are so expensive for something that doesn’t last”–well, honey, how’s that steak you had last night, keepin’ on? Those flowers that lasted “only” a week made someone happy every *single* day of that week. That’s a lasting impression.

So is art, Art. Big statement piece, small joy as a present for you or a friend, something to make something else with, it’s all in the shop. Thank you for listening to the end of the commercial, not muting it while you go for a pee and a snack ๐Ÿ™‚


holding my breath

I think that’s the final “name” too for this piece. As i’ve worked it again in the past 2 weeks, it’s freed up a lot of thought processes and worries i’ve had, and some major decisions were made.

I found a few spots where the initial stitching wasn’t completed either. Sometimes it’s hard to see the trees for the forest, or the forest for the treesย  — i’m never sure which makes more (non)sense! I figure this will be done by the end of the month, and i might just dig through the UFO pile to see what else has been holding *it’s* breath for finishing!

I’m also going to be combining some media–not glued and recycled bits of paper, metal, cloth, gumwrappers, tea bags and whatever else can be recycled from the Nasty GarBahj, but more in form and for use. If i’m bored with what i’ve been doing, i might as well try either some new things, or go back to some old things!

if it’s not one thing, it’s another

This winter has been hell: a fall on the ice in December resulting in a hip crunch that is still bothering me, an angina attack and all the ensuing tests, poking, prodding and stressing, a bad cold that lasted 3 weeks and wiped me out, a spine jarring drive on the bus through a deep pothole that has left my back in agony, and the resignation from my Day job, after 5 years, effective on the 17th.

I’m frickin’ tired, and about all i can do, (besides whine i suppose…) is fill in space and time, so yesterday saw me go back to the strange face. (Previous post)

Since i started this in January of 2012 and have lost the flow and notes, i’m not sure what the intent was, but what the hell.

I’m guessing it was an exercise in colour, and stitch type, and followed/parallaled the making of “Not A Hive Mind”.ย  I might as well finish it, and then maybe i’ll get it!