Some dyed samples

Shades of Rosemary.

Discovering textile possibilities.

Subtle shades on linen

Mallow flower dye test, on some silk and linen.
It’s holding its colour after washing.
So far…
But I will test it again and again to be sure.
Fingers crossed.
The colour mauve is named after the french name for the plant species.

Fresh fallen flowers versus dried flowers of Crocosmia and a small dyed linen sample.
As I wrote before, I only harvest flowers which are ready to fall on the ground to not disturb the forming of seeds.
The alternative name is Montbretia. The genus name is derived from the Greek word ‘krokos’, meaning ‘saffron’ and ‘osme’ meaning ‘odor’, from the dried leaves emiting a strong smell like that of saffron when immersed in water (wikipedia).
The leaves can also be used in basketry,

Again, dyed with Crocosmia. Shades of gold.
On a cold and stormy day, I let the sunshine in.

The sun shine in-in.

Some shades of pink, yellow and orange

Testing some of my ‘inks’ on linen to see if they ‘hold’ . Washed with soap and dried in the sun. So far so good.
Made with flowers, fruit, barks or root only.
I’m seing new possibilities here, like ‘painting’ on plant-fiber textiles for instance.
I will tell more about it later.

I dyed some linen samples black and white. I know, it’s not really dark black and why should you dye white linen white and is that even possible?
I was inspired by the renowned quilt artist, Yoshiko Jinzenji (please google her if you don’t know her work). She discovered this special dye technique using green bamboo to dye cloth in a shiny white shade. She says: “the white color produced from natural plants features a sence of depth and weight that is unlike any white color produced from chemical dyes.”
So I experimented with some green bamboo from my garden and I can definitely say that the white color obtained is different from the white of the linen cloth. Interesting isn’t it? I will certainly try it again and this time I will not leave the cloth in the bamboo soup and forget about it for a month, that’s why there are some mould spots on it. I’m going to try it with natural colored linen too.
The ‘black’ color is from the gypsywort also called European bugleweed – Lycopus europaeus.

No mordants or metallic modifiers were used during the making of these dyes.

Plantdyes from my former garden

Harvesting flowers for inkmaking or dyes

Flowering gorse, with it’s golden flowers and it’s coconut/vanilla smell, make quite an impression on the landscape of Brittany, especially in early spring.

The breton word is ‘lann’. In the old days, the sails of the fishing boats were dyed yellow with gorse flowers.

Oh, but what about the thorns?

Harvesting gorse flowers is a labour of love.

I’m harvesting the gorse flowers. A couple of handfuls every other day, until I have enough for a dye-vat., a small one, just for my own use, I hardly use big vats.

This beautiful yellow iris root sacrificed herself for the sake of the science of ancient dyes.
In return, I will scatter her seeds all over.

The result will be a bluish-gray shade after fermentation of the plant material.

Soon to bloom woad growing next to my front door.
Isn’t that convenient.

Woad is my preferred plant for her blues.

While foraging for dye-materials I stumbled upon this cute slowworm, who apparently was practising her celtic knot pose, also known as serpentine-yoga.

Coffee table still life.

With woad flowers and some embroidery yarn dyed with madder root

Harvesting small pieces of delightfulness.

a few woad seeds and dried daylily flowers waiting for a dye test

In my former garden there was this liquidambar tree with amazing autumnal red leaves. The linen sample and the paper yarn in the middle were dyed with these leaves.

Shades of silk, mohair and merino yarns. All plant dyed with a fermentation method.

Ready to be woven into small stories

My dyeworks takes at least three seasons before I have any results. It takes a lot of work, sowing seeds, feeding, caring, harvesting, drying, fermenting plant material and finally dyeing.
These 20 shades were obtained by a fermentation process where no metallic mordants were used and no boiling whatsoever. Neither did I use iron or other metals to alter the colours in the end. It’s the true shades of plants.The way I work is the result of my own experiments from the past 10 years, it’s based on my experience with herbs in general and the way fermentation was done in the old days in ancient Europe.
I mostly use plants from my own garden. The yarn presented here is undyed merino d’Arles – 25 grams for each colour. I need to dye another 20 samples before I will use them by knitting or crochet some garment with it.

See you soon…

a fresh new start

I want to give this blog a second chance. I’m starting over after an absence of a couple of years. I´ve had some health issues (I´m fine now), a couple of french lockdowns and a 1000 km far move. (from Brittany France to Wallonia Belgium). I left fb (the best thing I did this year) so I have now more time to do some blogging again.

Making dyes from plants is still a big passion, but because of my move I also lost my dye garden. At my new place I need to start my garden all over again and give every plant a new place. I collected lots of seeds from my old place but it will take months before I can harvest some materials. In the meantime, I will post some pictures from the last couple of years (mostly from my instagram). It will just be some impressions, a kind of photo book of the stuff that inspired me back then and it will not really be technical or with much explanation, that will come later.

Some dyeplants from my former garden…

Dyer’s chamomile. The first harvest of summer. The brightness of the flowers is simply amazing.

Colours in the garden

Sweet coneflowers (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) with tiny white spider. The flowers give an orange-yellow dye and the leaves and stems should give an olive green dye. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough plant material to test them. So I’m hoping for lots of seeds. I’ll have to wait another year. The flowers are truly beautiful. Pure gold.

sunflowers Hopi black dye
Helianthus annuus

These are Hopi black dye sunflowers.
This traditional variety has been used by the Hopi Native American people for dyeing cotton and wool and other fibers used to make their basketry. Colors derived include maroon-red, deep maroon, dark purple, deep lavender, medium blue and black. The yellow petals were transformed to make a body paint for use in ceremonies including women’s basket dances which are usualy associated with the initiation of fourteen-year-old girls into their own women’s societies.

Eerie bedeguar emerging from the eglantine bush.

A bedeguar, from french bédégar – from persian bād-āwar meaning ‘rose-wind-blow’, is a gall made by a little wasp called Diplolepis rosea. It grows on roses.
This gall contains lots of tannins, which is why it was used to stop bleeding. A dark brown ink was made with it, adding some iron sulfate to it’s juice. It was also called ‘sleep apple’ in France, because it had a reputation of helping to sleep better and to have foretelling dreams. Hydrolate or distilled water made from the bedeguar gall was used to heal eye diseases.
It’s a young one, it will turn red in time.
Eglantine or sweet briar is a apple-like fragance species of rose native to Europe. From french ‘églantier’. Rosa rubiginosa.

Drying flowers from my garden. For ink or dye or maybe for herbal tea. Sometimes I use them as food coloring as well, to be more precise, as mead coloring, especially with the purple ones (yep purple mead). I prefer to dry them first as the colours are more concentrated this way.

And it’s a test, because if they loose colour while drying they will not be very colourfast either when used as dyes.

Freshly picked evening-primrose floers
a pale yellow dye can be made with them

Rose is a rose, is also a colour, a fragance, a romance.

I gather the petals only when they are ready to fall. I try to do that with all the flowers I gather for colour or smell. So that they can live their life cycle in peace.
I suddenly realise that one of the ways to communicate with plants is trough smell. And if I can smell Rose, she can smell me too. We tell each other things. Important things, funny things. If she don’t like how I smell, she will not speak to me. And she will not offer me her colour. It’s as simple as that.

See you soon…