dyed with St. John's wort

Earth cloth: St. John’s Wort

Dyeing fabric with plant stuff is a big production and I always wind up cursing at the results. But then I always wind up circling back, It’s an exercise in seeing the Other as it is, not as you wanted it to be. I did not study organic chemistry. The chaos is on my side of the equation, not Mother Nature’s. Chaos on cloth is occasionally beautiful, but then only an odd corner of it. Where am I going? What am I doing?

Anyway, the other day I took a couple video classes that instructed me how to turn organic patterns into reproducible surface designs. Excitement! I pulled out some 2017 experiments and scanned them. What felt like crap became lovely.

I got excited about doing botanical “eco-prints” again. Wrong season. But I do have several bunches of dried St. John’s wort hanging in our ground floor window. I rolled some between layers of cotton and linen (pre-treated with alum and tannin and sprinkled with some of my homemade iron water). Then I steamed the bundle for an hour.

The results (top of this page) were less than I hoped for — no real prints of flowers, leaves, or stems. Still… I got a lovely variegated green, especially on the linen.

Links to earlier entries about natural dyeing

Here’s my history, if you’d like to learn more. The interesting leaves in the gallery above came from a wild-grape leaf experiment, which I never wrote up. Now I remember I also got a range of cool colors on swatches of wool… didn’t write that one up either. Some day I’ll catch up with myself.

Earth cloth: dried plants from winter garden. 7 Mar 2016. Detailed instructions for making bundles of plant material for color and “print” transfers.

Earth cloth: animal, vegetable, mineral. 18 Feb 2016. Detailed instructions for printing organic patterns with onion skins on silk.

Earth cloth: avocado pits. 29 Feb 2016. Includes detailed instruction.

Natural dye experiment: bundles and weeds. 12 May 2015.

Natural dye experiment: dandelions. 8 May 2015. I didn’t really appreciate the super subtle color of dandelion dye. But in the final analysis, my 2017 dandelion wine turned out better.

Natural dye experiment: cabbage. 26 Apr. 2015. I was disappointed with the cabbage till I saw it matched some vintage Chinese silk, which I adore.

Dyeing for cranberries. 18 Nov 2014. Pink.

Alchemy + botany. 13 Nov 2014. Summer is over, but I am so enthusiastic about dyeing with local botanicals. Part 2. 19 Nov 2014. Part 3. 21 Nov 2014. Pretty much a big failure — glad I kept at it.

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