Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Slow Fiber; processing barks and testing for color.

I've been so inspired lately by Jenny Dean and India Flint. Both prolific natural dyers, reading their books have helped me slow my process down much more and appreciate the process even more. Something I read in Jenny Dean's book, Wild Color, is about using barks. Several months ago I collected a few large pieces of birch bark I found on the ground. This past weekend I found some apple barks laying on the ground while at an apple orchard. Soaking barks can take at least one week to soak but i'll got longer. I've warmed up to this idea as I don't always have the time or the head space to watch pots all day. The processing of barks for dyes simply starts with breaking or cutting it into pieces, adding water, and forgeting about it for a week or so. 

I collected and processed about 4 oz of Hudson Golden Gem apple bark.

Along with 4oz Black Oxford apple bark. I processed these barks in the same way I did the birch bark. I now have two stainless pots (I used stainless steel in order to keep the water as pure as possible. I don't want any leaching from chipped enamel pots because it can alter the color). I filled both half with water, covered them and they will live on my porch where it's sunny but cool. This way, I'm hoping, no mold will occur. If it does, I'll just skim it off. 

Apples not included but I just wanted to show you what these varieties looked like. Also, the inner barks are much like the skin of the apples.... The Hudson gem being lighter and well... golden. The black Oxford being deeper and saturated. 

Another great tip I found in India Flints book, Eco Colour. She suggests using a tea test method to see if a certain plant has any dye potential. 

Our mums are still going but have a few dead heads. I collected a small handful.

Every jar that enters into our home, goes here. I'm constantly grabbing from our stock pile to stuff lichens into, mix mordants and dyes, and to store dried plants. Of course, once it's used as a dye tool, it's never used for anything else. 

I poured boiling water over three plant types to see if any color would flow out. 


From left to right; mums, a rust colored plant, rose petals in hot water, rose petals in cold water. I noticed a few minutes after pouring boiling water onto the rose petals, the pigment in the leaves disapeared. Curious, I then tried cold water. The color took longer to seap out.

Now it's time to get back outside and make a trip to the post to mail off an etsy order to New Hampshire and stop by the store for vinegar to start my copper liquor. And more ginger ale for my Jamison and gingers. I love these late at night. Always make me feel like I'm back in Ireland. Sigh... :)

Happy Tuesday and enjoy your day! 

ox, r

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