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 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

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“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

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“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

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“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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a gift of indigo

A friend from my knitting group, who was moving out-of-town, called me to drop by her house to pick up a gift she had for me. I was surprised when she handed me a bucket of her indigo vat dye, and some of her yarns. I was so touched of her thoughtful and generous gifts. She quilts, spins and dyed her own fabric and yarns for her artwork. She is really talented and I shall miss her.

Here’s the indigo vat dye that I carefully brought it home with me in the car. The bubbles and foam on top is called the “flower” and has to be scoop away before using. The smell is rather strong and I had to wear a mask and gloves before I dipped my fabric inside. Below are pictures of how I used the “gift” to over-dyed a bundle that was pre-steamed with plant materials. Mouse over picture to get a larger view.

nice dark blue indigo

silk bundle that was pre-steamed with eucalyptus and agonis, before it was dipped into the indigo vat dye.

some of the plant materials and the paper clip are stained blue from indigo.

more to see

more to see

peeling to reveal markings from agonis flexuosa (peppermint tree), and eucalyptus

spots of white are a result of the resist from plant material and how the fabric was wrapped.

 

mirrored image of eucalyptus

take a peek to see

a lovely color

markings from 2 types of eucalyptus

clothes pin are great to keep dyed stings organized

*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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a shift dress in fall colors

front view of merino jersey dress eco-print with agonis flexuosa and eucalyptus cinerea

front view of merino jersey dress eco-print with agonis flexuosa and eucalyptus cinerea

back view of shift dress

back view of shift dress

I eco printed this dress with dried eucalyptus leaves and fresh Agonis, and over dyed it in brazilwood dye bath. The dried leaves were pre-soaked in some water before printing. I am thrilled with the result and happy to share.

vibrant reds from cinerea and sage greens from agonis

I love the results of this one—reminds me of a Chinese painting of bamboo and plums

Agonis flexuosa ‘Jervis Bay Afterdark’, or after dark peppermint tree.

*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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