deep blue almost violet, my indigo heaven

coppery brown to burnt umber from eucalyptus prints and deep blue from indigo

This post was inspired by Pia Best, an online friend with whom I share my interest in eco printing and dyeing. Her indigo dyeing with eucalyptus and indigo is exquisite and stunning. I hope to meet her someday in person to learn her techniques.

I made this in viscose jersey (a tight weave fabric), with eucalyptus leaves bundled with a rusty pipe and steamed it for about an hour. Then, the bundle was removed from the pot; let to cooled and then dipped into the indigo dye. Here is the fun part that I love the most–as if by magic, when the bundle was removed from the dye vat, it changes color, from yellowish-green to blue after it had been oxidized in the air. I am happy with the result, and happy to share.

more

closer look–my indigo heaven!

love it

spots of brown are results from decayed and fallen eucalyptus leaves. I love the contrast of blues and browns

dark

deep indigo here

blue with tied strings markings

and here–with white markings from tied strings.

*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 happy.”

nature’s gift

an interesting plant, first a hairy green then turned into a woody and spiky seed pod

This is a rare and unusual plant that I must share on this blog. I planted this on the curb to scare away the dogs from littering. On several occasions, I have seen our neighbor dog took a sniff and backed off from the spiky looking fruit–so my plan worked!

Proboscidea, commonly known as unicorn plant, devil’s or ram’s horn is a flowering plant that produce a trumpet-looking flower; then a hairy fruit, before it dry up to a woody and hooked seed pod. My friend, who gave me the seeds told me her grandmother, who is a Navajo Indian cooked and eat the green fruits, and kept some of the dried pods for her basket weaving. I am hoping she’ll show me some of her grandmother’s basket.

stages of the growth

stages of the growth

seeds for the next season

seeds for the next season

cymbidium orchid bloom for me–another nature’s gift!

*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.

“the earth laughs in flowers….Ralph Waldo Emerson”.

solar or sun kissed dyeing

filled jars basking in sunshine

filled jars basking in the sun

Solar, or sun kissed (my term), is a fun and natural method of coloring fabric using the energy and power of the sun. All you need is a glass jar, some botanical, alum, silk fabric, rubber bands, and water.

I’ve been saving glass bottles of various sizes and shapes for this purpose, and scraps of silk fabric remnants. As you can see, I love and used mostly silk in my work. Silk is an animal fiber, and like all animal fibers, such as wool is made of protein. It is the most desirable and versatile fabric to use for dyeing.

Do you know that there is a good source of natural dyes to be found in your own garden! For starters, you can use a variety of flowers, roots, berries, and nuts to get different colors. A few plants to use are calendula, marigolds, birch leaves, pansy, onions, and carrots. Solar dyeing is a fun way to experiment and enjoy the mystery of natural dyeing!

coreopsis flower and leaves

coreopsis flower and leaves

pretty and delicious in a jar

pretty and delicious in a jar

For this post, I used coreopsis, some dried eucalyptus, and alum as a mordant. Mordant literally means “to bite” in French. It is a chemical process that fixes the dye and binds the color to the fabric. You can find alum in the supermarket as it is a food additive, used in pickling and preservative for fruits and vegetables.

I will leave these jars with the silk bundles outside to bask in the hot summer heat, and will post the result in a couple of weeks.

a simple roll, fold, and tie method. The folding lines will acts as a resist to block the dye from coloring parts of fabric, thus creating an abstract pattern.

a simple roll, and fold Shibori-tied method. The folding lines will acts as a resist to block the dye from coloring parts of fabric, thus creating an abstract pattern.

jar filled with a teaspoon of alum, water, flowers, and folded fabric.

jar filled with a teaspoon of alum, distilled water, flowers, and folded fabric.

jar filled with a bundle wrapped in eucalyptus and rusty objects.

jar filled with a bundle wrapped in eucalyptus and rusty objects

just after a day in the sun, the color extraction is crimson red

just after a day in the sun, the color extraction is crimson red

corn cob drying in the sun--which I will use for bundling my fabric in eco printing--sustainable!

corn cob drying in the sun–which I will use for bundling my fabric in eco-printing–sustainable!

*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 happy”.

sushi anyone?

top-bottom: these tiny bundles remind me of a platter of norimaki, maguro, tekkamaki, and tamagoyaki delectably arranged on a wood surface (tongue-in-cheek expression)

One weekend, I took a ride with a girlfriend of mine to a wholesale flower mart in downtown San Francisco. This place has over fifty vendors specializing in a large variety of cut flowers, foliage, plants, and floral supplies. It is one of the largest and the best place to be if you want to get fresh flowers. I got a bunch of  Galax urceolata,  a few stalks of Leucospermum or protea cordifolium, Cupressus funebri, or mourning cypress, and Eucalyptus. I especially love the Galax or beetleweed. The leaf is rounded heart shape with a shiny surface and it is use in making corsage and boutonnières in the floristry industry. Following are pictures of eco-print experiments I made with some of these plants.

Galax or beetleweed

Leucospermum, also known as protea cordifolium or pincushion. They are hardy plants and make for lasting flower arrangement.

silk bundles tied up in cut untreated wood, ready for the dye pot

Freshly steamed bundles, ready to be opened.

test #1: Leucospermum or protea cordifolium

deep prints from the leaves of Leucospermum or protea cordifolium

colors showing on both sides of fabric

mirrored image of leaf print

love the reddish-brown color—almost russet

test #2: Cupressus funebris, or mourning cypress. The leaf is flat and lacy and scale-like

streaks of sage green, with grey and white from tied string markings

I love every moment of this–unwrapping each fold to see what’s inside

Woohoo–the alchemy of eco printing is truly satisfying.

test #3: Citronella, or mosquito plant–a must have for the summer to repel bugs and mosquitoes

brownish and white prints from tied strings marking, leaf showing light stain

soft mushy leaf with little color print–not a good candidate for eco printing. However, the bundle gives out an incense-like odor

test #4: Galax urceolata or beetleweed

dark streaks and color migration–exciting

the spent leaf is jet-dark in color–almost like the Japanese nori in sushi

mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

sunny yellow against brownish and charcoal background with coal-black and white from tied strings markings

Today’s eco-dyeing experiment has produced some unexpected and amazing  results. The addition of vinegar (acetic acid) into the water in the dye-pot has caused a chemical reaction resulting in these beautiful colors.

*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 happy”.

coreopsis and wild fennel on silk

freshly harvested 2 varieties of coreopsis from the garden

freshly harvested 2 varieties of coreopsis from the garden

A quick post on last weekend bundle that I had wrapped with coreopsis and wild fennel, a harvest from the garden. I steamed the bundle in a pot with some vinegar in the water. The aroma from the simmering dyebath filled the backyard with a distinctive smell of liquorice or aniseed from the fennel.

layout of coreopsis flower and wild fennel

layout of coreopsis flower and wild fennel

fennel fronds stained a sunny yellow

fennel fronds stained a sunny yellow

bright yellow prints with deep orange from eucalyptus

bright yellow prints with deep orange from eucalyptus

coreopsis gives a hue of brownish to burgundy

coreopsis gives a hue of brownish to burgundy color

washed and pressed

ghostly prints from coreopsis

ghostly prints from coreopsis

a pretty scarf for the summer

a pretty scarf for the summer

*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 happy”.

eco print with lion’s tail

 

Leonotis leonurus, commonly known as lion’s tail or wild dagga is a native plant from South Africa; and a species of the mint family. It is an evergreen shrub with aromatic leaves and bright orange flowers.

Lion’s tail is known for its medicinal and recreational properties: the foliage is used as a tea for medicinal purposes, leaves are also used as a remedy for bites and stings, and the dried leaves and flowers give an euphoria and calming effect when smoked. I have not tried it myself and neither am I advocating it!

I love this showy plant simply for its beauty as it attracts bees and hummingbirds to the garden.  I have had this hardy shrub for almost twenty years. It survived all these years with my amateur gardening skills; as it had been moved from one spot to another when we landscaped the front of our house. It is not a fussy plant and it comes back each year more vigorous than before.

This summer, they are blooming profusely. I am curious to know what color it will give me on fabric and paper. Below are details of the results…the bliss of having a garden and able to use them for eco printing!

I used the whole stalk of it and wrapped up tightly and boiled for less than an hour

fresh out from the pot–lion’s tail on silk..it is printing yellow

close up of the entire stalk, notice the green from the leaves

the green is printing well on silk

a close peek here

the striking orange flower turned into a mush of soft brownish color, and prints yellow on the fabric

pretty lion’s tail, showing off its yellow print

washed and pressed

I used cold pressed, 140 lb. water color paper for this experiment.

just out from the pot

*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 happy”.

purple eco print using Agonis

Agonis flexuosa, ‘Afterdark’ from UC Botanical Gardens at Berkeley

I found this tree in the parking lot of a restaurant where we had eaten dinner. It is a small tree with dark burgundy foliage consisting of narrow, willowy leaves. I am curious to find out if the dark colored leaves prints a deep violet color.

I cut a branch home and sent a picture to the nursery to identified the name of this tree. The name of the tree is Agonis flexuosa ‘Jervis Bay Afterdark’  or After Dark Peppermint Tree. This past weekend I was touring UC Botanical Garden and just happened to see one of these plants for sale and quickly bought it.

With the branch that I brought home, I made some test samples with silk and cotton and steamed it for an hour. I was delightfully surprised when I opened the bundle. Agonis print with a palate that ranges from deep purple to violet. I did a few more samples with it together with eucalyptus and some rose leaves. I love the results and happy to share.

Agonis flexuosa 'Jervis Bay Afterdark on silk

Agonis flexuosa ‘Jervis Bay Afterdark on silk

close up view

Agonis with rose leaves

Agonis with rose leaves

close up view

close up view

Agonis themed with eucalyptus

Agonis themed with eucalyptus

horizontal view of a landscape colors in deep orange and purple

horizontal view of a landscape colors in deep orange and purple

close up view

close up view

behold a pretty scarf to have

a pretty scarf in vibrant colors

*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 happy”.