Friday, June 26, 2015

Chop wood, carry water, forage for dye materials

Out walking yesterday, and there's a bunch of dead red Japanese maple branches cut and tossed outside someone's fence.  So I figured since live J. maple leaves make a good dye, why not drag them home and test if dead ones will work, too.  They still had a lot of color.

So here is the foraging result on my patio, paper bag ready to receive the leaves.  My kitchen now has various paper bags pegged up to the front of my shelves as my growing foraging finds mount up.  And the fridge has several jars of dyes made from their results.

In the kitchen, there's also cooking, and today being a day to cook beets from my farmshare, I saved the steaming water and the skins and made a dyebath, in the hope that it would work.  

Beets usually require the whole root, I think, but anyway, I tried out a piece of linen, shibori-wrapped in a sort of brick shape, used cream of tartar as a mordant and alum, and simmered the fabric, after soaking in water for an hour, in the dyebath complete with mordant.  I'll leave it in overnight, probably, just to give the color a chance.

But  since I took the picture,  when the dyebath was reddish, I notice it's already, after half an hour, turning a rusty brown. 

I know beet color is very fugitive in air, but if it gives me a warm rust brown that will work fine for one of my doorway pieces. We'll see!


Magpie's Mumblings said...

Methinks you will have to be careful to check what you're eating in your kitchen or you might ingest something you might wish you hadn't! Labels are good!

Boud said...

Which is why everything is not only nontoxic, but also labeled. Fifty years of making art in kitchens brings its wisdom!

Quinn said...

Oh the suspense!

Boud said...

I should probably explain that I'm insanely careful about toxicity in art materials, and have taught the subject to other artists, not to mention bringing it up in every single workshop I teach. Even to kids -- no spray glue, for instance, which even some grade school teachers don't realize is desperately unsafe.

I have dedicated pots and pans for dyeing completely separate from those I use for cooking. I realize it looks now and then as if I use the same ones, but that's just the editing process.

I have sad experience of losing artist friends who did not observe toxicity precautions, things such as spray glue, or that clear resin, or pastels without proper approaches. So though I seem casual in these blogposts, I realize it's a good thing now and then to reinforce the automatic precautions I take. Fans going, plenty of cross ventilation, working out of doors, all that kind of thing. Never mixing food and art in the studio, ever. Never eating without washing hands after making art.

Mary Anne, I thank you for reminding me to talk a bit about this! I tend to assume that everyone knows all these steps, because my own experience is rather long! and I shouldn't assume.

And as for the fugitive nature of beet dye, well, we'll see! the mordanting should have helped with that, but well you never know.

margaret said...

I was wondering about beetroot as it stains so easily, surprised to read it will make a rust colour. Good advice re taking care for those new to dyeing

margaret said... this is also a blog where lots of dyeing is going on, you might already follow Mary, have shared your link too with her