Saturday, 25 August 2012

one man's weed

one man's weed is
another woman's dye experiment

spotted Berberis darwinii on one of my perambulations
around delightful Edinburgh Massey University back in 2007
this berry yielded a lovely purple dye
when mashed in hot water
and then turned a rich indigo blue in the presence of copper
[substantive on wool + silk, the samples are still very pretty]

here are some berries crushed into my travel amusement

in local water {from the Novotel tap]
it looks like this

not at all purple or blue

when smooshed over an area
previously anointed with mud from San Francisco Bay
it indicated there are probably alkalis [certainly there are salts]
in that lovely goo
it went blueish on the crossmark
which was stencilled with mud
the splodges at top left
are from the blackberries at Fort Mason [SF]

anyhoo i thought it might be interesting to see if copper made a difference
i'm carrying US pennies
and a handy magnifying glass, necessary in order to sort sheep from goats - in this instance pre1982 pennies from the others [the old ones are copper, the new are some kind of trickery]

i added some pennies to the mix

and a sign to deter over-zealous cleaners
we'll see what tomorrow brings
meanwhile on another note
i made friends with a local resident
while toddling down a set of stairs
[i love cities with hidden stairs]

s/he is bottom right in the bigger picture


  1. ahhhck! what a post of wonders (I feel totally convinced that THAT place up there^^^^ is of course the mcleod ancestral home....yes? .... ke hee he he)

    I love it when you post dyeing bits - so inspiring in any land

    1. not a bad little shack
      rather overrun with visitors!

  2. imagine the hotel staff at coffee telling tales of a weird cup of color in the loo. bunny has a lovely neighborhood.

    1. weird cups of colour are just the half of it...

  3. I went in to some medieval story in that last photo... love the wall, its a kind of subdued Gaudi wall!

  4. I love Edinburgh...a year working up there and l visited often from London.Tony spent glad you do too. Thanks for showing us this berry experiment India. Enjoy your rest of your visitx Lynda

  5. And if dyeing fails, well they look like sloes? So you could make sloe gin with them!!

    1. not sloes ...they are prunus. years and years ago though i spent a very happy afternoon at Shudy Camps [near Cambridge] pricking sloes for sloe gin while drinking last year's brew. memorable.

  6. OOh lovely, love all the different colours and especially where you swooshed it over the mud. :) helen

  7. Such sweet flowers and such wonderful dye results ... very nice post, this. :-)

  8. the handy magnifying glass has a touch of Sherlock Holmes to it ...
    sweet colours

  9. I never knew the cutoff date on those freakin' pennies....bless you!
    And as far as that darwinii goes, not a weed 'round these parts. Must pay a hefty bounty at the nursery if we want one of these lovelies in our garden ~ around $9.00 for a one-gallon plant.
    Mighty good mud ;>]]

    1. well mind the darn thing doesn't get'll spread like wildfire. there are species of berberis native to your parts anyhoos, were much used by the original inhabitants as dyes , particularly the bark and roots for yellow [on deerskin]

    2. Yes, tis true, altho there is something quite special about the flowers of darwinii. Found an interesting link on wiki about the Coast Salish indians (from these islands), their dyeing & their weaving. Did you know they even used dog's hair?!?! Should you desire some reading material, the link is:
      and a fascinating account of the "woolly dogs" is here:
      (just in case you need a reprieve from all those touristas ;>]]

  10. threads, pennies, magnifying glass (and I imagine there are other fun small items that also ride along with you on your travels)- what fun this is to have a peek at the traveling alchemist's kit

  11. I saw and plucked (here in Seattle) what I thought was this plant the very day you psoted this...but Sweetpea, who apparently resides around these parts, says it isn't the same. As a new and addicted dyer..I'll be playing with this one soon...