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Woad & Salt. An Experiment in Home Grown Dye.

First year Woad plants coming up. Woad (Isatis tinctoria).  is a flowering biennial in the mustard family Brassicaceae. It was cultivated for centuries as a medicinal  herb and source of blue dye.  Woad was the primary source of blue dye in Europe, before Indigo became widely availlable.  This year I finally had enough first year Woad leaves to actually try dyeing some hemp fabric with.   First year Woad will grow as a low rosette of leaves, in the second year , the plants send up a flower stalk of between 2 and 4 feet tall,  producing many small yellow flowers, then thousands of seeds.  ( side note, in some places Woad is considered a noxious weed! It is a champ at producing seeds and...

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Dyeing with Golden Rod

  I live in Southern Ontario, where Golden Rod ( solidago sp) grows wild everywhere! Is a striking plant that can grown up to 150cm ( 59 inches). Native to North America, Golden Rod belongs to the aster family, Asteraceae and has a long history of use as a dye plant & a medicinal plant.  There are more than 100 different species of Golden Rod!   Ive dedicated a portion of my garden to it, and every year I get a bigger and bigger patch. It is a great native plant to encourage in the city. Great for all our pollinating friends! Golden Rod is ready for harvest when the yellow flowers begin to bloom. Leave it for too long it will...

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Printing with Leaves

Designing fabrics with nothing but leaves, is something magical!  I still have the same excited curiosity whenever I print any leaves!  Some leaves I know well and have printed with them for a long time.  Still to this day they offer surprises!  The results can be influenced by so many different things. The time of year, how old the leaf it, it is fresh, or dry,  the water that was used.  This process has really driven home the importance of keeping notes as I go!  I dye mainly on cellulose fibers. Hemp, Organic Cotton, Linen.   There are so many different ways to botanically print fabric, really the best way is the way you will figure out as you play with...

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Dyeing hemp with Black Walnuts.

Where I live in Southern Ontario, we have an abundance of Black Walnut Trees (Juglans nigra). Every fall, anywhere you walk you are bound to come across squirrels collecting, and dropping walnuts. Even without the help of the squirrels, as they ripen the walnuts drop to the ground. This is where I collect from. The abundance of them in my community also has friends leaving me large bags of walnuts taken from their yards. Some people like to break open and separate the hulls from the nut inside, This is no easy task! I knew someone who would drive over them with his truck to remove husks! ( he was collecting for eating the walnuts. YES they are edible!)  I choose the path of least...

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Dyeing with Pine Cones

 As Spring arrives, I am slowly running out of saved plant material to dye with from the summer and fall.  As the snow was melting in Southern Ontario, all the pinecones that had fallen during the winter starting poking themselves out of the slush. I remembered I read, at some point that they were used as dye, so I collected a bunch.  All different varieties of pine and spruce cones. (spruce cones? is that a word?)  Because this was a lockdown, hiking with the dog whim of an experiment, I didn't follow the rules I usually do when working with new dye stuff.  I didn't do any weighing of the pine cones, or of the material I used. I don't...

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