Solar dyes. Some colours of Harakeke.
Catching the spring before it fades…
A low of -1 degrees Celsius overnight, but a clear blue sky this morning means now I can get the washing dried on the line! Snow on the mountains arrived as well. I could not resist taking the camera out to record the plants in the garden.
I always fight between clearing or not clearing the ‘weeds’ as clearing them disturbs everything in the flower beds. Then when the dry, hot days arrive I think the weeds would help to keep the soil moist. But I know that the strong weeds would overtake the cultivated plants. The vegetable and fruit trees and bushes are looking at their best just now. Lots of Ladybirds – hope they and the birds do a good job controlling the aphids. It is a balancing act between taking action and just observing. A new location brings a new set of conditions. I am intrigued at the different biodiversity existing in two locations 2 kilometres apart from each other. We have fewer birds and habitats for them here than at the last place. I’ve started reading my permaculture book again. Need a jungle.
There are some lovely black blue iris flowers just opening – will they make some dye?
My painting, the last image, now looks just like Spring!
As part of our group exhibition, Accumulative, I will be in the Arts in Oxford Gallery this Sunday 23 October from 10.30 am until 4 pm making paint from rock from the Canterbury area and further afield.
Hope to see you there!
Waimakariri Near and Far, mono print on paper. Detail of one of my Accumulative exhibition prints with Waimakariri and Waikari rock paints.
***OH! I WAS busy – just found this draft; so I thought, well, I might as not post it right now.
The show was a great success, with nearly fifty memberships for the Friends group, and all but two of the auction works passed reserve, raising some much appreciated donations to the gallery.
I’ve been VERY busy at Arts in Oxford, helping out with the next show that is called
C A L E N D A R
This exhibition is to celebrate the wonderful art and craft that abounds in North Canterbury – and other places in New Zealand of course! Last year the gallery published a case calendar which was a sell-out! So obviously we decided to do another one – ‘do’ means my help with the design work.
I know I am being a little ahead of publication (which is on 3 September) but here is the cover image which is of one of Serena McWilliams’ machine 3D embroideries:
In connection with this exhibition, the gallery is also launching a group – Friends of the Gallery – and we hope to encourage more involvement with the gallery through a programme of events available to members. The gallery was founded with the intention of becoming a centre of the arts for a community that is about an hour’s drive away from the cultural centre of Christchurch, our nearest city. So this initiative is intended to represent the development that we feel we can make after five years existence as an art gallery. To help with fund raising our wonderfully supportive artists have each donated a work to be entered in a silent auction.
I am part of Arts in Oxford’s latest exhibition, starting on Saturday 8 October 2016, which is a group exhibition by Stratum showing prints, painting, pastel works and sculpture as well as a large collaborative work.
You are invited to a ‘Meet the Artists’ afternoon from 4 – 6 pm on Sunday 16 October, and four members of the group will be in the gallery working on three consecutive Sundays from 16th October.
Spring brought the peonies, one of which had deep red petals which went into a dye pot with pieces of silk, wool and cotton.
Painting of Aoraki – Mt Cook behind the flowers is by John Horton. These peonies were a gift from Viv and Nancy!
This is the amazing colour that appeared…
My next test was with a ‘new’ kumara variety called Purple Dawn. [Kumara is a sweet potato, which Maori brought with them to New Zealand.] My friend Casey Macaulay told me how she had experimented painting with the red cooking water and how when vinegar was added the liquid turned bright green – I just had to try for myself. The silk and cotton absorbed the red colour, but the paper was different as seen below. I forgot to wash the kumara, and I think the ‘bits’ in the dye came from the skin.
The green-yellow fabric at the top is old cotton t-shirt rag, I had the same pink/green result when I dropped the dye onto the surface. The dark dye brush mark is with vinegar added, the pink mark is straight out of the solar dye jar. Note how the silk and cotton stay pink.
For the next test I cleaned, peeled and shredded the kumara, and added some sodium acetate to a separate portion of the dye. The vinegar (sodium acetate) did turn the dye green, but the colours were so different. I probably should not have prepared the kumara quite so much! Casey has different water to us so that may explain the paler green results I had.
By this time I was getting really confused by these results – you probably are too (!); I did a further test in my workbook to see if the paper there gave different results. When I put a blog together I try to get the photo image colours correct (via Photoshop). Here however, if I alter the pink, the green is wrong. So I would comment that in the scan of the workbook page below –
The top left blob has a distinct dark purple edges and the overall colour is slightly green with a purple tinge
The top right hand brush stroke should be pinker
Both the Kumara No 1 tests colours should be bluer
The Kumara No 2 tests; neither should be so green…the one on the left is a pale brown.
If you are still with me, there is more!
My next solar dye was with the paler red peonies (in the photograph at the top). The silk and cotton took up the dye with no problem, but the addition of some vinegar brightened the colour on the silk and cotton.
Hollyhock petals were collected during the summer of 2013/2014 in the old garden; I kept these in the freezer. I tried India Flint’s ice-flower dye method as described in her book Eco Colour whereby you place the frozen petals directly into warm water, but the water I used was hot. The result was almost instantaneous – a deep dark red. I put silk and knitted cotton in the solar dye. The knitted cotton only partly submerged and what emerged was a mix of pink-red and green – again. I also added some vinegar and salt to portions of the dye. Images below.
The bright green mark at the centre of the knitting was caused by the sample left to dry over a piece of metal. The grey colour that appears sometimes is where the material was not completely submerged but some colour has been transferred by osmosis it would seem. I do fold or scrunch up the cloth as well and for these tests am not bothered by colour variations .
Later I used the original dye for further tests. Just great colour harmonies here. Green and blue-green marks made by copper pipe. The paper is kozo.
In these tests, all the silk and cotton was originally white and unwashed, no mordants used, just the salt and vinegar added afterwards to separated amounts of dye liquid. The chemicals in the paper seem to affect the dyes. I could try applying soy milk to the paper and letting it dry before painting on the dye.