staying warm and cozy

Following up from my last post on shawl wraps I’ve made for the cold weather, here are two more. The first one is made with a combination of eucalyptus, California pepper tree, and casuarina pine needles.

L-R: California pepper tree, eucalyptus cinerea, casuarina pines, and eucalyptus polyanthemos

L-R: California pepper tree, eucalyptus cinerea, casuarina pines, and eucalyptus polyanthemos

In this close up you can see the details that each of the leaves creates. The eucalyptus leaves dominates that pattern, the more numerous brownish green leaves are from young, recently harvested eucalyptus, whereas the larger, bright reddish orange color is achieved by using older and dried eucalyptus leaf. The casuarina pine needles create the “connect-the-dots” pattern that you see gently curving up from the bottom left to upper right side of this picture. Finally, the California pepper tree leaves create the spotted grey pattern you see on the right. You can see another example of the California pepper tree leaf here.

Close up view of #3, Aurelia (Latin name for golden, and the colors of fall)

display of prints made with 2 types of eucalyptus

close-up view of leaves arrangement depicts shape of an oval face

closer view of eucalyptus and casuarine pine prints

vibrant fan-shaped eucalyptus leaf

full length view of shawl wrap

This second piece is made with casuarina pine needles and eucalyptus.

L-R: casuarina pines, eucalyptus polyanthemos

L-R: casuarina pines, eucalyptus polyanthemos

Close up view of #4, Aspen (Aspens are poplar trees with dazzling fall foliage in shades of yellow and gold)

casuarina pines with eucalyptus

side view of shawl wrap

center view of shawl wrap, with striking red from eucalyptus cinerea

center view of shawl wrap, with striking red from eucalyptus cinerea

full length view of shawl wrap

side view of shawl wrap

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

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November highlights

The month of November is when the cold winds begin to blow and marks the beginning of winter. It is also a month where we celebrate “Thanksgiving”, a national holiday in the U.S. It is a holiday of giving thanks and celebration with family and friends. The holiday also reminds me of pumpkin, apple pies, and piping hot cider to keep the chill away.

This post highlights several shawl wraps that I have eco-dyed with the following botanical: eucalyptus polyanthemos, eucalyptus cinerea, and casuarina pine needles on wool. These shawls will keep me warm and cozy this time of the year.

L-R: casuarina pines, eucalyptus polyanthemos

L-R: casuarina pines, eucalyptus polyanthemos

Close up view of shawl wrap #1, Scarlett (printed with the above plant materials)

a spectacular display and prints from 2 variety of eucalyptus, casuarina pines on wool

a spectacular display and prints from 2 variety of eucalyptus, casuarina pines on wool

vibrant reds from eucalyptus cinerea

vibrant reds from eucalyptus cinerea

love the dark and light contrast from young and fresh eucalyptus leaves. The dark prints are from eucalyptus cinerea

love the dark and light contrast from young and fresh eucalyptus leaves. The dark prints are from eucalyptus cinerea

vibrant colors to beat the cold and grey of November

vibrant colors to beat the cold and grey of November

full length view of shawl wrap

full length view of shawl wrap

This second piece is printed with oak leaves, fir pines, and eucalyptus.

L-R: grand fir pine needles, southern live oak

L-R: grand fir pine needles, southern live oak

Close up view of shawl wrap, #2 Autumn

oak leaf, pines, and eucalyptus on wool

oak leaf, pines, and eucalyptus on wool

close view of oak leaf, love the different shades of browns

close view of oak leaf, love the different shades of browns

markings from Abies grandis (grand fir)

markings from Abies grandis (grand fir)

a single oak leaf

a single oak leaf

full length view

full length view

display of the full shawl wrap

more on next post…

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

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cat’s prowl and pumpkin gleam—trick or treat

yellowish color markings of cat cut out on banana leaf, and reddish-orange from eucalyptus (for pumpkin)

Halloween or “All Hollow’s Eve is a fun holiday celebrated on the night of October 31st. It is an evening filled with activities of dressing up in masks and costumes, houses decorated with spider webs and carved pumpkins, trick-or-treating for candies, and bonfires. The bonfire is an ancient belief of the ancient Gaels. The fire is bait for insects to attract bats to the area; the masks and costumes were worn in the attempt to appease the evil spirits.

To celebrate this holiday, I eco-printed this tee-shirt to wear for Halloween. I traced a drawing of a cat on a piece of banana leaf, and used eucalyptus leaves to depict pumpkins. Then, I bundled it up and steamed in a log wood dye bath.  Hope you have a scary and blood howling Halloween!

Prowling in the dark of night,
In the shadows, in dim light
The black cat’s hidden out of sight
But on this eco-printed Tee
A cat and pumpkin can be seen
It’s made to wear on Halloween
written by John Bower, 2014

front view of cat and pumpkin on a shadowy night

front view of cat and pumpkin on a shadowy night

back view--a generous display of eucalyptus in reddish orange and yellow

back view–a generous display of eucalyptus in reddish orange and yellow


*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, sew happier, dye happiest.”

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fall leaf season

the wonderful colors of fall season

the wonderful colors of fall season

Liquidambar styraciflua, or American sweet gum is a large deciduous tree that drops its leaves in multiple colors of reds, browns, gold’s, and purples in the fall. It is a popular ornamental tree with 5 pointed star-shaped glossy leaves, and hard spiked fruits on its stems. The tree is grown for its hardwood and it has many benefits: the resin excreted from the wounds of the tree has medicinal benefits; the resin or sap can be chewed like a gum. The leaf stems has a menthol flavor and can be chewed in the mouth, as it helps relieve sinus congestion

Every autumn, the nature put on a spectacular display of colors in rich and vibrant hues. This is the peak season for picking wind fallen leaves, and my neighborhood has many sweet gum trees. Many of them have started to change colors and dropping their colorful foliage on the pavement. Here’s a post using freshly picked sweet gum and California pepper tree leaves bundled in silk fabric.

sneak peek on freshly steamed silk bundled  with sweet gum

sneak peek on freshly steamed silk bundled with sweet gum

peeling away to reveal its markings

peeling away to reveal its markings

mono prints from sweet gum and pepper tree berries

mono prints from sweet gum and pepper tree berries

stains markings from rusty copper pipe

stains markings from rusty copper pipe

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

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festive with pepper tree

Schinus molle (pepper tree), eucalyptus, catalpa and casuarina pines on merino jersey

Schinus molle (California pepper tree, Peruvian pepper tree), is an evergreen tree with willowy like leaves and branches that bears clusters of red berries. It is a beautiful tree when it is covered with red berries. The berries or peppercorns have a refreshing and peppery smell, but they are not related to the true pepper (Piper nigrum). The barks and the leaves have medicinal value. To create a festive mood, I used to pick them during the holidays to use as a decoration around the house.

In this post, I used it with other plant materials on merino wool jersey.  I then steamed the bundle for over an hour. I was quite surprised and happy with the markings made from the peppercorn. The foliage however, merely leaves brownish stains–I wonder if it is due to tannin? That will be another experiment for me perhaps?

red pepper tree berries  with evergreen foliage

berries after steaming

reddish brown markings from pepper tree berries

casuarina pines, pepper tree berries, some oak leaves, catalpa, and eucalyptus

close up view–I love the different hues of browns, umber, and vibrant colors from eucalyptus

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

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new season, new wardrobe

shawl wrap in pines, eucalyptus, and seed pods

Eco printing on wool is so lovely. Since wool is a protein fiber it takes up natural dyes or pigments like “ducks to water”.  I am having a wonderful time bundling and exploring the colors of this season. This shawl wrap was made with casaurina pines, eucalyptus and its seed pods. Before I bundled it up for steaming, I placed a piece of silk over the wool and plant materials. The silk acts like a resist and prints from the wool are mirrored onto the silk, thus I get 2 pieces of artwork.

mirrored prints from wool onto silk

markings from eucalyptus seed pods

markings from Abies grandis (grand fir)

grand fir needles

grand fir needles

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

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new season

eucalyptus, casuarina pines, wind fall leaves on merino wool

The beginning of fall is the perfect time for cleaning and preparing the house and garden for the colder weather. Trees and shrubs are pruned and trimmed for new growth next year. This is also time for “changing over the wardrobe” from summer to winter clothing.

The season’s change has inspired me to try new materials for my eco-printing. The shawl wrap you see above is printed on wool flannel. I was delighted to see how beautifully the material took on the color and detail of the selected plant material.  The wool is soft and cozy and I am looking forward to the first cool, crisp, evening so that I can wear it.

full length view of the wrap, with fold over as the collar piece.

vibrant reddish orange print from eucalyptus

a single oak leaf

a single oak leaf print

the colors here reflects the mood of wind fall leaves in the white of snow with a fiery red beneath it all

the wonderful colors of fall

the colors of reds, gold and yellow from liquidambar in the fall is lovely

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

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natural dyeing, catalpa

Following up last week’s post of catalpa leaves print on watercolor paper, here is a post using the same leaves on wool fabric. Mouse over picture for larger view.

unrolling

deep color on the outside

this is a small catalpa leaf

tan and brown colors

browns, tans and some shades of greens

dark and light

here’s last week’s post on watercolor paper

close up

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

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hello October

Catalpa tree–magnificent and majestic

Last weekend, I met and made a new friend at the antique store, where I bought my sewing cabinet drawers. She was friendly and helpful and we started talking about gardening, chickens, and then about trees.

When I told her that I go around the neighborhood picking leaves from trees and on the ground for my eco-printing–she was quite surprised. She then told me that she does the same and that her children were embarrassed by her behavior.  So, one thing led to another, and I asked her if she had ever come across a catalpa tree. Guess what,–she said she had, and then showed me pictures on her artwork of concrete leaves made with Catalpa and cement; then the address where the tree was located.

As I was driving to the address, I spotted the tree from a distance, well before reaching the address where it was located. It was this enormous and tall tree in front of the house. I was in awe when saw this tree. It is truly an impressive and magnificent tree!

large heart-shaped leaves

I walked up the to the front door, and rang the doorbell. A sweet lady opened the door. I introduced myself and asked if I could have some of her Catalpa leaves. She was nice and friendly, and told me the tree is over 30 years old, it was planted from seeds that she brought back from her aunt’s house in Ohio. She told me that I could always come back next Spring to pick more leaves and flowers to make a garland.

Catalpa or Catawba is a rare and special tree with large heart-shaped green foliage, and beautiful ornamental flowers in white and pink. The catalpa fruit is a long thin pod growing up to two feet long that resembles a string bean.

long seed pods

long seed pods

When I got home, I quickly did some tests to see how well the leaves would print. In my first test, I put a leaf between sheets of watercolor paper and steamed in water for about half an hour. The rest of the leaves, I gingerly wrapped in paper towels and placed in my cooler. Here are the results with the paper.

print from a single small catalpa leaf

print from a single small catalpa leaf

closeup of leaf

close-up of leaf print

mirrored image of leaf--a skeletal outline

mirrored image of leaf–a skeletal outline

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

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leaf markings from gingko biloba

Hi, I am back with Gingko, which is one of my favorite plant material. Gingko biloba or maidenhair is a deciduous tree with fan-shaped leaves that turns golden-yellow in autumn. The female tree bears a soft yellowish fruit that smells bad like rancid milk or decayed matter. When the fruits are ripe, they fall onto the ground and the foul smell can be offensive. The fruits are used in traditional medicine and in Chinese cooking.

The gingko tree is also one of the oldest tree, that dates back to the dinosaur’s age–some 200 million years ago. Paleontologists had found several species of the gingko fossils at the Stonerose fossil site in Washington State. You can view and learn about these fossils at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle.

There are two gingko trees located two blocks away in my neighborhood. When I saw the sidewalk were paved with the ripen fruits, I knew its harvesting time. I went home, grabbed some plastic bags and a pair of gloves–and walked over to this ‘smelly tree’ that stood majestic on the sidewalk. The entire sidewalk was filled with the mushy and stinking pulp smashed by passer-by. I crouched on the ground and picked through the dirt for the ripen fruits beneath the trees.

I also picked a fresh leaves to see if the leaf prints or give color. For this post, I arranged the leaves and eucalyptus on a piece of silk; bundled it up and steamed in a pot of water. While the pot was cooking away on the stove–I sat down to “attack the stinky fruits” (even our cat stayed away). The soft skins come off easily from the ripen fruits to reveal the nut inside. The nuts are washed in water to remove residue and any lingering smell; then it was boiled in water for about 15 minutes to remove some of the toxins found in the raw kernels. After several rinsing in the water to cool the nuts, I used a small mallet to crack open the outer shells and the center part inside the kernel. Note: Unless it is thoroughly cooked, one must never consume the raw kernel of the gingko fruit.

fan shaped gingko leaf or maiden hair

yellow soft-skin fruit–yum?

skin comes off easily to reveal nut inside

From this experiment, I learned that the gingko leaf neither print nor give any color; but it will be useful to use it like a “resist” to block dyes or colors from penetrating to a certain area. Another crafty idea, was to apply paint to the leaves, and used it to print the shape on greeting cards. The result was quite nice.

dried and fresh gingko leaves with eucalyptus

gingko1

merely a light print impression from leaf shape

 

prints from painted gingko leaf onto homemade greeting cards

homemade greeting cards made from painted gingko leaves

3-dimensional of soft and hard

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

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