Visiting my site in mid-June, I saw a field of one of my favorite native wildflowers, Monarda fistulosa (also known as wild bergamot or bee balm), not yet in bloom but vigorous with upward verdant growth. The topmost leaves of brilliant yellow-green seemed almost like sources of light. Three of the pieces are my response to observing this field.
I was also attracted to a hillside dense with tall, graceful grass. I have since learned this is an invasive and difficult-to-eradicate species called reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea). Its presence can lead to a decline in native plants. Since learning this, I have noticed it everywhere – in roadside ditches, parks, etc. It grows so thick it tends to choke the wetlands.
I completed my experiment with ice-flower dyeing (learned from book by India Flint).
Using the gladiola flowers above, I over-dyed silk and linen I had previously dyed in birch bark, which resulted in an earthy yellow/neutral, so that keep that in mind when you see all the green tones. I intend to incorporate in my woven pieces for the Cloth2Cloth workshop I’m enrolled in over at Jude Hill’s place.
In the process I was surprised by the beautiful (and ephemeral) blues and purples and pinks from the initial squeezing of the flowers as well as how much the color changed with the mordants. A really peachy pink came from a vinegar mordant. Other bowls had alum mordant (one for cellulose and a different one for protein). These really went green, with the silk yielding the most lovely green in my opinion. The warm neutral (not green) silk above came with the vinegar as mordant.
In less than 24 hours I’ll be on my way to California! I’m taking another workshop with John Marshall and look forward to new learning, and to seeing Sacramento, Covelo, Eureka, the Pacific and the winding roads! Hopefully this will also mean a break from the heat and humidity 😀
Last weekend in Loring Park — 90 degrees both days, humidity about the same — very uncomfortable! Here are a few pics:
I met another fiber artist working with natural dyes — Dawnette Davis of Grand Rapid’s Minnesota (no website …). I bought a beautiful silk scarf from her that was dyed with iron-modified cochineal and imprinted with rusted objects….the iron modifier created a beautiful grayish violet/blue. Here’s a photo. Beautiful work!
I’m busy in the kitchen in between trip preparation tasks trying to put away some of the veggie garden harvest. Yesterday it was two big batches of pesto. Today it’s salsa and cutting up oodles of zucchini for the freezer. My husband planted many Gladiola bulbs and so we have them all over the house as well as garden. Trimming bouquets and deadheading in the garden today it occurred to me to freeze some blossoms and then try India Flint‘s ice flower dyeing technique when I return. Don’t you think freezing flower blossoms for dye is a brilliant idea? I really look forward to seeing what kind of color these yield …
I am not bringing the computer so expect more on the blog after August 23rd when I return!