Sunday, 1 November 2009

very slow dyeing

digging up an old pond [basically a bathtub lined with a plastic pond liner, black on one side and white on the other]
i discovered to my surprise that the roots of the adjacent tree
a rauriko* [Coprosma australis]
had made a pink print on the plastic

the weight of the rocks hiding the plastic and the force of the roots pushing up and seven years of contact
in the damp dark earth
had resulted in magic

it's a known dye plant traditional to Maori
apparently yielding yellow from the bark
and also sometimes red
[the latter i suspect in conjunction with alkali]
but not something i'd played with yet
even though they grow outside my door

they belong to the plant family Rubiaceae
and so are a relation of madder [Rubia tinctorum]
which is of course known for the brilliant red dye
contained in the roots

* this is the spelling i've been using for years of the common name and can't recall where i sourced it
i have been advised by somebody who knows
that it should be

except that in the Maori dictionary [where the link will take you] it comes up as Coprosma grandifolia
curiouser and curiouser
said Alice
as she stepped through the looking glass


  1. I love it! A buried bathtub converted into a pond — now why did I not think about it when we remodeled our bathroom last year.

    I also like the feel of your garden from seeing just a little portion and as i read your post, I cannot help feel how similar experiences we have had when it comes to gardening and art. As my own recent post describes making use of the roots in my art.

    Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful weekend,

  2. yes, Egmont, i popped over for a visit just after i'd been writing about roots and noticed the syncronicity! trust your weekend is a good one, ours here in tomorrowland is nearly over...

  3. interesting post. thanks for the info...and i love that spidery web print-in-a-tub!

  4. You allways say: time is your friend!
    But seven years?
    Can't do a lot of dying in my life this way.

  5. i keep dropping into your unusual and beautiful blog every now and again. i just thought it was time to stop and say hi and tell you how much i enjoy all that is in here.

  6. Great surprise. The type that will spring-board other 'planned' surprises. -j

  7. i have an old bathtub buried on my land, it has been there forever. i suppose i should leave some fabric in it. i am just recently inspired to dye fabric as i very slowly read your wonderful book.

  8. my daughter calls similar experiments/disclosures i find here "that stuff" which cracks me up. love your "that stuff". wonderful print.

  9. oooh those nature makes you feel so little and thankful


  10. You have been blessed to weave a story on cloth for future narratives your works with Nature. I love the intricacies in the red undelating marks. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  11. Hey we had one of those trees and we had to pull it out for the reno. Will have to hunt for another. They used to pop up everywhere in the garden from the old one

  12. Those 'found' prints are the reward for an aware mind in a dream state......