natural dyeing, seeded eucalyptus

glowing orange from eucalyptus, umber and different shades of brown from decayed leaves and barks

Eucalyptus is one of my favorite medium and I used it frequently in my work. I am fortunate to have access to a few eucalyptus trees in my neighborhood, and hiking trails where it take me through lots of them. If you ever head out towards Bodega Bay, along the coast–the roads are lined with eucalyptus. Eucalyptus has strong and aromatic fragrance, and you can smell them from afar or walking by one.

prints made from habotai silk

I am ecstatic when I unfolded the bundle….is this a happy coincidence?

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

natural dyeing, starburst honey locust

There was this gorgeous looking tree growing in front of my friend’s house. It’s funny, as I’ve been to her house a couple of times, and didn’t notice it before. I asked her the name and origin of the tree, and she told me it is a Starburst honey locust tree. Honey locust is a deciduous tree that is indigenous to North America and it is quite a spectacular tree–as its foliage starts out yellow in spring; then to a greenish-yellow and finally, light green in summer. Here are pictures from this little experiment.

honey locust bundled in silk fabric

greens from leaves and browns from stems

long compound leaves with smaller leaflets giving the foliage a delicate and lacy effect

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

luna top, sewing pattern

One Sunday morning, I woke up with this crazy idea about making a garment with 3 holes. I told John about it and he gave me a puzzled look. So, without a moment wasted, I got out of bed  and went to the other room to find a suitable piece of fabric. This dress top is made with a crepe georgette, a light weight material that drapes beautifully.

luna top side view

It took me a few hours to finished sewing the garment, and also had time to eco-print it with leaves and dyed with indigo. Another idea came to mind, why not create a sewing pattern with instructions and sell it on Etsy. It took me another week to put together the instructions and illustration of the sewing pattern. If you like a version of this to make for yourself, please click HERE

shadowy prints from rusty bar

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

natural dyeing, annato

colors of the sun caught in a spidery web

This post is inspired by a culinary spice. Annato seeds, or achiote is indigenous to Latin and South America. It is used both as a culinary spice and as a dyestuff. The fruit is covered with thick spiky hairs and inside the fruit are numerous dark red seeds. The seeds are harvested, ground to a powder and used in cooking as spice and as a coloring additive in some varieties of cheeses. Annato seed is widely used in Latin American,  Caribbean, Mexican and Filipino cuisine. When used in dyeing, the seeds yield a bright yellow to orange color.

Below are pictures from today’s experiment–I am happy and thrilled with the results.

color from annato, after simmered for an hour with alum.

color from annato, after simmering for an hour.

an animated clip showing the opening process.

wet fabric with patches of reddish orange annato paste. the spider web design reminds me of a nursery rhyme, itsy spider

a handmade ceramic from my daughter

a handmade ceramic gift from my daughter, Melissa

perfect color accent for this scarf

a perfect color accent for this scarf

that's all for now...

that’s all for now…

The itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain
And washed the spider out
Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain
And the itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again

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

colors from safflower

dried safflower heads, reminds me of saffron threads

Safflower (carthamus tinctorius) is a tall plant with spiky leaves, and thistle like flowers. It is a hardy plant with attractive flowers in deep orange and yellow. Safflower is widely grown and commercially cultivated for vegetable oil, which was extracted from the seeds; and the dried flowers are sometimes used to substitute as saffron in cooking, and in textile dyeing.

For this post, I snipped a branch and gingerly wrapped it with a piece of silk fabric with strings; and simmered the bundle in water for half an hour. Below are results from this experiment.

pretty orange and yellow flower heads--touch me not

pretty orange and yellow flower heads–touch me not

showing green–quite promising!

wilted flower heads and seeds in yellowish green background

shadowy prints in sage, green, 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, dye happiest.”

natural dyeing, brazilwood

deep rose color from just a dip in dyebath

deep red color on silk twisted in a rosette

It’s the end of august already? How time flies–it seems to me as I am getting of age, each passing day goes by ever so quickly. When I was a teenager growing up in Malaysia, I always wondered why it took so long for me to grow up to be an adult. Instead now, it’s the other way around. Nevertheless, life is good but sometimes I wish the pace is a bit slower.

Today, like any other weekend-was a day for me to play and experiment outside in my little “studio’. And the post today is an interesting dye from a certain wood call brazilwood, named after a country. Can you guess what it is?

Brazilwood (caesalpinia echinata), or sappanwood is a tropical hardwood, discovered by the Portuguese explorers who found these trees growing on the coast of South America. They also found that the heartwood of the tree yields a brilliant red pigment (brazilin), which was ideal for dyeing, thus making the trees a lucrative commodity for trading. Following are results from the various experiments I made using this dye.

R-L: powdered dye; crimson red color dye bath from brazilwood.

deep rose color from just a dip in dyebath. This is the background that will be applied to a shibori technique

deep rose color arranged in a rosette. This is the background, applied to a “fold and clamp” or shibori technique.

itajime shibori, technique with triangle-shaped resist. Then the bundle was over-dyed in indigo dye bath for a purple color

here, I applied the same method as above, using a hexagon resist, and then over-dyed in indigo.

yet, another shibori technique that I love–arashi shibori, or pole wrapping. 

brazilwood_red_overdyeIndigo

red has magically turned into violet purple, and white was a result from the tied markings which acts as resist in this technique.

inside view of the many creases and folds.

a tunnel of purples and whites

so much fun pulling and stretching the folds.

And finally, a musical piece fitting for today….”the end of August, by Yanni”

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

2-in-one kaftan

breezy and loose-fitting kaftan, rust dyed with rusty objects.

Working through my pile of fabrics that was tucked away in a box were my “not too good” or NTG projects from my eco print experiments. I found these two silk scarves that were previously dyed with rusty objects with the rest of the fabrics. It took me awhile to figure it out how to make the most of it with the least amount of time. The solution is a kaftan!

Kaftan is a traditional Moroccan inspired long and loose-fitting robe that can be worn on both casual and formal occasions, depending on the type of material and elaborate embroidery used on the garment. This was how it’s done: stitched the two scarves together along the edge; folded into middle, cut an opening for the neck, stitched both sides, leaving two opening for the armhole. This is my 2-in-one kaftan pieced together–Viola!

*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 happier, sew happiest.”