Tuesday 31 August 2010

Pisolithus tinctorius

it's a curious thing, this fungus. the scarf i have [dyed by Nalda Searles in Western Australia] is a mustard yellow/brown.
and i've variously used it [the fungus, not the scarf] at home with rainwater to make yellow and brown [in non-reactive vessels] and purple [in a milo tin]

while tidying up after the workshop at Wattle Point i simply stacked the 'tea bag' containing the cooked fungus on top of the sample landskin muffler i had made to show the class the steps. the muffler had been sitting in an aluminium bowl with a bit of salty lagoon water and a few dogspikes purloined from the trackside on my way thither [demonstrating a means of pre-mordanting].
i hadn't wanted to hurl the dyestuff because it still had great potential. waste not, want not.

an hour or so later i looked under the bag, saw the muffler with bright yellow stains on it [see prior post]  but beginning to brown slightly at the edges. then i pootled off to sit on the jetty with a glass of red bubble-water to enjoy the lapping waves, the dimming light and the myriad jellyfish wobbling along under the surface.

when i returned to continue my packing i absentmindedly hurled the muffler into the washing machine to spin out the drippy stuff. sloshing things are tricky to transport [don't worry, i have that tea-bag safe]. you can imagine my surprise when it came out more pink than brown.

the woolly bits didn't pick up colour [wool needs warmth to dye] but the silk certainly did. not quite sure what's happening here chemically, but there's a similarity with coreopsis dyes...they turn pink with added alkali. on the other hand no alkali was added here, so it could be the effect of oxidisation, methinks.

oh and another note about fungi...i always thought this one was the mature version of the puffballs we used to cook with butter, salt and pepper and happily told my students, however according to this website that might not be the case!

definitely not, if you read this! mea culpa.

detail of the landskin muffler
incorporating a smattering of Jude's interweaving of fabric
[pop over to Spirit Cloth on the side bar to see where that can go]


Monday 30 August 2010

in the far east

i've been away in the Far East
where wallabies wander past the workroom
and pisolithus fungus do strange things in the dye pot

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Monday 23 August 2010

oooh, look at the baby

we have a ewe lamb on the paddock. actually we have LOTS of ewe [and ram] lambs on the paddocks.
but this one is a bit special
she looks like a Border Collie
[photographic trickery has her and her mother twice on the same snap]

and in case PETA is watching
that ewe is NOT mulesed, just crutched around the tail!

Saturday 21 August 2010


finally crammed the dresses into a cardboard carton
and sent them on their way
can't show you them in full just yet, because it would spoil the element of surprise
that is [as i understand it] required by those who asked for them

this dress for twins didn't go. it's still a work in progress
but now after the flurry of the past ten days
i can give it the attention it needs

Wednesday 18 August 2010

spring is in the air

spring is in the air
and i am being tempted by this

a beautiful piece of kantha stitching
my friends will understand my dilemma -
an inbuilt reluctance to purchase unnaturally dyed cloth
on the other hand
it's all recycled
and has been purchased fairly from the makers
we'll see

spring is bursting from the bushes

and splattering on the ground
whatever berry that bird is eating
clearly reacts beautifully to the alkaline mordant
also provided by said bird

the dresses are nearly finished
last one went into the dyepot at dawn
wrapped tightly with Eucalyptus crenulata leaves
which smell rather nicer than the stench
emanating from the crazy neighbour's domain

it would be rather more pleasant around here
if only spring were in the air.

PS i keep omitting to say thank you to Lou Pardi and Ellie Beck both of whom kindly mentioned me in the current edition of Peppermint magazine, for which i am very grateful! 

Monday 16 August 2010

something in the air

the making of nine dresses in a hurry
[so much for working 'slow', sometimes you have to make do with
'mindful' and 'beavering' instead]
means collecting a lot of windfalls
and by extension
taking lots of walks

here are some of the plants that grow on our farm

this acacia is very pretty [similar to the Flinders Ranges Wattle, Acacia iteaphylla but not quite the same]
and makes a lovely print
i don't use it. why? because it smells like cockroaches when it's cooked
and leaves a permanent scent in the cloth

this plant, Callitris sp or Native Pine provides delightful seed heads that are useful in shibori work
and the timber has the most wonderful spicy aroma
you'd think the Three Kings were on the doorstep with a lovely selection of goodies
a few twigs from this plant placed on a fire creates the kind of smoke
that conjures enchantments and cures dragonbites

and finally, the Lemon-scented Gum. when i was a wee one it was called
Eucalyptus citriodora but the boffins have decided it should be called
Corymbia citriodora instead.

[note to boffins - refer to what Mr Shakespeare had to say about the naming of plants]

this tree offers an abundance to the dyer. leaves [fresh or dry, green or brown], bark and flower buds [and caps] all yield beautiful colour. it responds to metals [try iron or copper or zinc-plated scraps] and to different waters [try soaking your cloth in the sea before dyeing]

a pot of these lovely lemon-scented leaves simmering on the kitchen stove will spread fragrance throughout your house
and the dye cloth will retain the scent for years

when simmered in a still-shiny Milo tin in rainwater collected here on the farm
the leaves will produce a gentle purple on wool
[expect black once the Milo tin becomes too distressed]

what's Milo, i hear you cry?  it used to be a very delicious grainy chocolate/malt flavouring that could be added to milk. in the old days it would float on top and could be scooped from the glass with a teaspoon of cold cold milk, the perfect 3am snack when pulling an all-nighter as a student].
these days it's soluble. i suspect there may be detergent in it. but i still like the tins....

Sunday 15 August 2010

not as famous as Cher but a much briefer break

strangely things seem to be back to normal here
after the extreme weirdnesses of the other day
due to the extraordinary influx of supportive mail [thanks folks]
and to my mother
who grumbled that she wouldn't get to read travel stories any more
and the fact that a couple of brave souls signed up to follow the breadcrumb trail
even though i'd signed off

i'm back
like Cher and Cat Stevens and Mohammed Ali
except i shan't be punching anybody and i'll keep my singing private

i can hear the time vampire licking its lips already

a couple of notes. first of all, before Elaine Lipson sues me for using the two words
'slow' and 'cloth' consecutively in a sentence
the article the phrase appears in [about Yvonne Dalton] was written months ago
but has only just been published. read it here if you like

and in case you hadn't made it to where i was keeping the home fires stoked
you might like to pop across to read about a worldwide project
for which i am just now planting the seeds
[dreamed up especially for those who, like me,  enjoy the confluence of stitching, dyeing and wandering]
and if you're interested in joining in, please send an email to the address on the page
i'll be gathering the list of names and submitting them
to encourage my publisher to support the project

Friday 13 August 2010

see you on the other side...[i hope]

even though things seem to be back to normal on these pages
i have my doubts
so i'm sticking to my plan to use my home page
as the place to tell stories

hope you can find time to swing by
[but give me a couple of days to get the house in order]
and the last word here can go to the Dog

So, we'll go no more a-roving 
  So late into the night, 
Though the heart be still as loving, 
  And the moon be still as bright.

Thursday 12 August 2010


it would appear that i've been hacked.
i haven't the time to sort it out
so shall exit stage left

thanks folks, for signing up and being friendly co-travellers along the way
[all 400 of you]
i'll be moving my rantings and ramblings
a little closer to home

they'll appear somewhere on my website
and you can email me through the contact page
if you wish to stay in touch

in due course
may take a couple of days to get organised there
and wafflings may not be as frequent as before
bear with me

happy trails....

Wednesday 11 August 2010

a bit of [her]story

while we're waiting for that velvety thing to come to its senses
you might like to swing over to my mother's pages
for a bit of background information

and to put her story in context
a link here to the Museum of Occupation in Riga

a lovely Latvian meadow

Q. how do you make God laugh?

A. tell her your plans.

and there i was hoping for mossy green.
winter-picked solidago had other plans.
fingers crossed the leaves inside are still my friends...

bird's eye view of the pot at left, contents at right...

Tuesday 10 August 2010

windfalls and weeds

i'd prefer to leave these bundles for longer
but there's a deadline looming
here's a detail of the unfolded red bundle
[those white streaks are cotton threads amidst wool]

it's interesting to see how the same leaves print differently
on the recycled wool/cotton mix and the silk
[that's the lower part]
the dark mark is from the edge of the piece of galvanised metal
the dress was wrapped around

methinks we need a bit of green to balance things
hoping these windfalls and weeds
will make the cream velvet look like moss...

ps i'm told there are still a couple of places available 
in the felting and dyeing workshop being run by
 Fusion Fibre Arts Network in rural Victoria in a couple of weeks time. 
these are the only places left in workshops 
[with the exception of one coming up in the Blue Mountains in spring next year] 
with me in Australia until 2012 
- next winter I'll be across the Big Puddle a lot, the seems that 
the Orange class has been booked out 
[thanks past and future students for your friendly support!]   

if you're interested please email the organiser, Rhonda Albrecht.

Monday 9 August 2010

thanks to Beautiful Silks

yes, in know, twice in one day already...but exciting stuff!

thanks to Beautiful Silks i've had the luxurious indulgence of
freehand cutting into a tube of pure silk velvet today
[Marion kindly sent me some a while ago
that had a hint of transit damage]

inspired by a combination of Julian Roberts' subtraction cutting
combined with some other folding techniques gathered along the way
by the crossover apron pattern first shown me by my friend Jenni Worth
[who will be my glamorous assistant at the 'enfoldments' retreat in September]

for another amusing news snippet...you might like to [metaphorically speaking]
hop across the ditch by clicking here


dress number 3. the temptation to tear open the bundle is huge
but i'm trying to be patient
after all
i keep telling my students
'time is your friend in the dye bath'

Sunday 8 August 2010

another glimpse

can't show the rest of that dress just yet
but here's another detail
the string was twined from the same cloth as the dress
and serves to change the shape
as required
now i have to go and make 8 more dresses
sending a 9patch of them
off into the whirled at the end of the month
so i'm cutting and sewing
and hovering over the cauldron
a good warm place to be
in the southern winter

Monday 2 August 2010

mixing metaphors

what i'm working on right now
reflection in a puddle outside the studio

random harvest in car boot - includes vegetables from Barossa Market
pattern from the thrift store
and windfalls from the market carpark [Eucalyptus sargentii, i think]
where i'd rather be right now
today's been a bit of a challenge..

and i'm not at all sure about this Zemanta thing, it entirely stuffs up
the layout of my page

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more pontificating [and mindful of glass houses]

this lovely piece of work, made by Matt Shapoff and borrowed from the Handeye blog
post by Abigail Doan is indeed captivating. 
i've sometimes used the odd feather as a resist with ecoprinting but 
never had results that reflect the density of the avian resist in this way

but to describe them as 'organic' is possibly misleading. blue-printing or cyanotype* involves the use of Potassium ferricyanide
certainly the chemical involved is an organic chemical as indicated by the presence of carbon [that's the big C] in its molecular formula
but it isn't organic in the sense that is generally understood
[think 'organic' vegetables]. maybe i should stop splitting hairs.

however Abigail does have an eye for the beautiful and intriguing 
visit her blog to wander further

 this process is actually not harmless despite that "no dyes are used" [see link to original article above for more detail]
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Sunday 1 August 2010

brilliant photo, but take the instructions with a hit of salt

found this at EasyGreenLiving
caught up in a google alert for eco dyes
it's a fabulous photograph
but if you follow the instructions for dyeing cloth
you might just find yourself boiling away the colour
and their suggestive for a 'fixative' made up of half a cup of salt to 8 cups of water
has me nearly fainting

on the other hand, they suggest that saffron
yields blue-green

i'm curious about that...