Goings on …

in the studio

I’m getting back into the studio finally after starting a new job this
fall. I thought these (below) were going to be napkins for the household
(estate sale vintage linen damask) but they are turning into something
far more interesting – don’t know what yet. Started with ecoprint
bundles around my favorite fall leaves simmered in madder; then painted
some natural pigments on that … followed by a rice paste layer of my
water stencil, using some thin tracing paper as a mask. More pigment
layers and curing to come.

My daily walks along the shore frequently appear into my work.

along the shore

From December 6 – January 15th I will be in a 3-person show in a pop-up/window gallery in downtown Minneapolis. You can find the details of the show by clicking the postcard image, below.

Materiality show postcard


Leaf bundles unwrapped

Last Thursday our natural dye study group met to bundle leaves and cloth together, following the eco-print method developed and deeply researched by India Flint (and explained in her luscious book Eco Colour.) I had tried this on my own several times with disappointing results. But this time, persistence, patience (well – a little more), the chemistry of autumn leaves, along with the camaraderie of cohorts have conspired in my favor. I am delighted with these results!


No mordant used for the first simmer, approx. 1 hour in water. After a couple of days, I drizzled an alum solution (a pinch of alum dissolved in 100 ml hot water) over the bundle (edges, sides, etc. sort of randomly), and simmered it again (still bundled) in a weak walnut dye bath. After a couple of days wrapped in bubble wrap on my radiator, I then unwrapped it (so impatient!).

The leaves I used for all these results include: Canada red chokecherry (Prunus virginiana ‘Canada Red’), Red Mulberry (Morus rubra), Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum), and Candymint Crabapple (Malus sargentii ‘Candymint’). After arranging the leaves in a layer I then sprinkled on the onion skins (yellow). With the exception of the wool scarf, I bundled 2 or 3 layers of fabric and leaves over a birch branch from my neighbors tree. All bundled tightly with string.

silk and cotton

Above, 2 strips of silk over 2 strips of cotton muslin. The muslin had been soy sized some time ago and was put aside in my studio and forgotten about. I had played with natural dye extracts on the silk months ago, some pinks came from that. My meadow rue pattern was also printed with natural dye extracts. The 3 green leaf images near the top left are Chokecherry and Crab apple. The cotton is much more subdued, yet still lovely.

Japanese Maple

Not surprisingly, the Japanese Maple left a beautiful impression.


The onion skins made these pieces something special, I think. I especially enjoy the green of the Chokecherry with the rusty oranges.


(The Mulberry is one of my favorite leaf shapes.)

I am enticed by the rich, organic colors, the visual complexity, the sense of depth given by the layering of leaves and fabrics. So glad this is prime leaf collection season … I came home today with several varieties of Oak as well as more of the above. I look forward to playing with these techniques along with katazome materials and processes!

Walnut dyeing results; stitched feather

The Black Walnut dyebath gave some wonderful color. The wool came out very rich; the silk is a soft tawny brown. Interesting facts re: this dye (from Michelle Wiplinger’s Natural Dye Instruction Book):

  • The dye is high in tannic acid, and is a substantive dye, so it does not need a mordant. Mordants can be used as color changers.
  • The rich browns develop with oxygen (indigo also required oxidation). So she recommends simmering the hulls for a couple of hours with an overnight cool-down before adding the fiber. I simmered the hulls about an hour with an overnight cool-down.



In between extracting the color and dyeing the cloth I stitched a magic feather for Jude’s inspiring Magic Feather Project. Background: a scrap of muslin – my natural pigment palette. I use scraps of muslin to offload the brush and test colors. When the scraps become lively with marks, scribbles and color I throw them in the scrap pile. I chose black and yellow for the feather because bumble bees and Goldfinches are now feeding on my fall flowers and seed heads! I also tried a kantha stitch with a rippled effect that I have often admired on the Spiritcloth blog.