natural dyeing, peony

deep violet to almost indigo blue, and yellowish stains from peony leaf on pre-mordant cotton.

deep violet to almost indigo blue, and yellowish stains from peony leaf on pre-mordant cotton.

Tree peonies or Paeonia is a flowering plant that can reach an average 4-5 feet in height. It is a woody shrub that is native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America. Peonies are an ornamental plant with large and striking flowers that comes in a variety of colors in white, red, and pink. The flowers bloom in late spring and early summer. It is a spectacular plant to have and to enjoy in the garden.

my 4-year old tree peony with big striking red flowers

my 4-year old tree peony with big striking red flowers

Below are results of eco-prints made with this plant on pre-mordant cotton. I used peony, pinweed, borage, and daisy flowers that were pre-soaked in a vinegar bath, prior to putting on the fabric. Then the bundle was steamed in water for about 2 hours in my dye pot. I usually set my bundles out to cool and aged for a couple of days. At times, I get impatience, as it’s hard not to take a peek :)

The highlight of the day was untying and peels open the folds of the cloth to see the results under the wet soggy plant materials. Today’s post was one of those moments! The results were great and unpredicted–it was truly another beautiful dyeing journey for me. The magic of eco dyeing is inspiring, and fascinating. I am enthralled by it all.

bundled peony foliage and pinweed in pre-mordant cotton

a yellowish-green from peony leaves

fresh out of the pot–peeling off soggy peony leaves

deep violet to almost indigo blue, and yellowish stains from peony leaf on pre-mordant cotton.

Here, is another experiment using the entire stalk of flower and leaves with other plant material on pre-mordant cotton.

peony with yellow daisy and borage flowers

more blues and greens

*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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repurpose clothing, grevillea robusta

a new look on my red acrylic tunic top

Grevillea robusta, also known as silky oak is an evergreen flowering tree with fern-like leaves, and striking yellow-orange comb-like flowers. Note: The flowers and fruit are poisonous and can cause skin irritation, so care and caution should be taken into consideration when handling this plant. Wear glove for protection, it is advisable to cook your bundles outdoor.

striking colors from comb-like flowers

fern-like shaped grevillea, robusta leaf

fern-like shaped grevillea, robusta leaf

I am always learning with my eco-dyeing, and fascinated with the results coming out from my dye pot. I called this my “dye pot journey”. I have had some beautiful pieces, and some bad and unexpected experiment. I never gave up, as this is all part of eco-dyeing–it is addictive! Below are results of grevillea robusta leaf prints on different types of fabric.

logwood dye and grevillea on merino silk fabric

logwood dye and grevillea on merino silk fabric

fresh out of dye pot

violet to purple and strong prints from grevillea.

prints on pre-mordant cotton

prints on 100% acrylic red tunic top.

I am fascinated that it print on acrylic–it must be the tannin from the leaf

*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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why do leaf decay?

decayed persimmon leaf on cotton. The spotted appearance is where bacterial colonies have started and they slowly grow outward creating an interesting design

Leaf decay is a complex mechanism involving bacterial, fungal and chemical processes. As the plant material is broken down, numerous intermediate chemicals are formed, some water-soluble, and some not. Organic acids and tannin also result in leaf decomposition. These new compounds are not present in the living foliage. They can stain or react with the cloth or paper fibers to create interesting, and provide a whole new palate of colors. The spotted appearance on the surface is where bacterial colonies have started and they slowly grow outward.

Acer macrophyllum, or big leaf maple, Oregon maple, or broadleaf maple is a large deciduous tree.

Acer macrophyllum, or big leaf maple on merino silk

Acer macrophyllum, or big leaf maple on merino silk

Whenever I am out gathering plant materials for eco-printing, I often look out for ones that were partially buried beneath old leaves and dirt. I’ve used them in my experiments, and was amazed with the results. I am in awe with Mother Nature–even the decayed matter of nature has a beauty and design of perfection!

It was a satisfying experience and I am happy to share them in this post.

Persimmon leaf on merino silk

Persimmon leaf on merino silk

persimmon leaf on pre-mordant cotton

wonderful texture and colors from leaf decomposition

wonderful texture and colors from leaf decomposition

another persimmon leaf print

yellowish-grey spotted leaf print

prints using decayed leaf on greeting card

prints using decayed leaf on greeting card

eucalyptus leaf on cotton

I see yellow :)

eucalyptus leaf on silk. This one was a recycled leaf from previous work. The design reminds me of hot air balloon.

the skeleton of nature at its best–this is one of favorite!

*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, stork’s-bill weed

this print was made using pre-mordant cotton bundled with pinweed seed pods and persimmon leaf on the right.

this print was made using pre-mordant cotton bundled with pinweed seed pods and persimmon leaf on the right.

Last weekend, the sun was nice and warm with a cool breeze. It was a perfect day to be outside this time of the year, weeding and cleaning up the garden. Some of our fruit trees are budding, and the chickens are busy digging grubs and insects in the dirt. It’s wonderful to hear the chickens clucking while John and I were busy working in the garden.

I found this particular weed growing in a warmer part in our backyard. I’ve seen it pop up before, and each time when I remembered to get some for my experiment, it’s either dead from the summer’s heat or eaten by our chickens.

pinweed, an herbaceous annual plant

pinweed, an herbaceous annual plant

Erodium cicutarium, also known as common stork’s-bill, or pinweed is an invasive weed. It is an interesting plant that is hairy and sticky, with pretty pink flowers and long seed pods. The seed pods are shaped like the beak of a stock; and the seed pod bursts and explode into a spiral when ripe, dispersing seeds into the air.

pretty pink flowers

pretty pink flowers

Below are the pictures using this weed for eco-printing. I am pleased with the results, and happy to share.

spiky weed on piece of silk fabric, bundled with a rusty iron can

spiky weed on piece of silk fabric, bundled with a rusty iron can

dark shadowy lines created from rust can

dark shadowy lines created from rust can

streaky rust lines and seed pods print

streaky rust lines and seed pods print

dark to umber colored and shadowy prints, a result from rust

dark to umber colored and shadowy prints, a result from rust

a fairly good print from the seed pod, and an accidental yellow from unknown plant material

a fairly good print from the seed pod, and an accidental yellow from unknown plant material

an experiment using paper

an experiment using paper

an alien looking print

an alien looking print

yellowish green dye from pinweed on cotton

yellowish green dye from pinweed on cotton

pretty colors in varies shades of browns, greens, and grey…love it

This weed now deserved a good spot in my flower bed, don’t you agree?

*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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batik painting

orchid on canvas

orchid on canvas

Last month, I took a class in batik painting at Jadi Batik Gallery, a handicraft center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The gallery is located in a busy street, where it is easily accessible to an array of fine dining and shopping for both locals and tourists. The owners at the gallery are really nice and welcoming to visitors with a cheerful smile. This is the place for parents to bring their kids to experience batik painting.

Batik is found in many parts of the countries, including Nigeria, India, China, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. The difference between Malaysian and Indonesian batik is that the former has larger designs of flowers, butterflies, and abstract designs in vibrant colors, while the latter are deep colored with smaller designs.

The instructors at Jadi Batik are mostly local Malays, who are both talented and helpful. I was given a set of brushes, paint, and a piece of canvas. I was given a stack of design templates to pick one that I like to paint. After I’d selected a design, I sat down to trace the design with a pencil on the surface of the canvas.

design outlined on canvas

design outlined on canvas

Next, the instructor taught me how to use the canting, or tjanting with the hot paraffin wax to outline the design. The hot wax penetrates the fabric, thus preventing the paint or dye from spreading to the outlined areas.

it's tricky to use this tool, and the wax is hot

it’s tricky to use this tool, and the wax is hot

brass tjanting in different tip sizes

brass tjanting in different tip sizes

white areas are filled with colors

white areas are filled with colors

background color was the final step.

background color was the final step.

The final step was to fill the white areas with paint–this was the highlight of the class. After the paint had dried, the canvas was soaked in a chemical solution to fix the dye and then it was boiled to remove the wax, leaving a clear white outline along the design.

the store front has an array of cotton and silk batik for sale.

the store front has an array of cotton and silk batik for sale.

*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, muscari on cellulose fiber

Clivia Miniata,  an evergreen herbaceous flowering plant native to southern Africa.

Clivia Miniata, an evergreen herbaceous flowering plant native to southern Africa.

Following up on last week’s post, ‘eco stain with muscari, that focus on using a kitchen rolling-pin for color compression on a piece of fabric. I was delighted with the deep violet color from muscari by using this simple technique. This piques my interest to see if muscari will print or give color to boiling heat.

This post is an experiment using muscari or grape hyacinth, with other flowers growing in my garden. The plant materials were bundled in an old cotton sheet that were previously pre-mordant with alum and soy milk; and then put to boiled in simmering heat for about two hours. The bundle was taken out from the pot and left out to cool overnight, before I opened it the following day.

The most rewarding and exciting things I have learned in natural dyeing is that some dye source give amazing result. In this experiment, and quite by accident actually–a combination of brown, umber, and greens from the heather. Sadly, the clivia does not print, but merely stained light to faint hues of pink onto the fabric.

clivia, muscari, and scotch heather bundled in cotton, and boiled in simmering heat.

clivia, muscari, and scotch heather bundled in cotton, and boiled in simmering heat.

hues in pink, blues and greens

hues in pink, blues and greens

light to dark violet blue print from muscari; pinkish color came from clivia.

light to dark violet blue print from muscari; pinkish color came from clivia.

almost perfect

almost perfect

*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”.

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a small part in Kimberly’s book

 

a page about my work in Kimberly's book

a page about my work in Kimberly’s book

Last March, I received a request from Kimberly A. Irwin, a professor at Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta, Georgia. She was writing an instructional manual about surface design on fabric. She found my blog online about compost dyeing. She wrote and asked if she could include two images from my blog post, “Unwrapping a Gift from the Compost Pile”.  Her book covers over 70 techniques and ideas to create interesting design on fabric manipulation, and one of her topic focuses on ‘buried fabric’, or earth staining. I was thrilled and happy to be a small part of her amazing book. Thank you, Kimberly!

Click here to the blog post, and here to her book.

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eco stain with muscari

stains of blue and green from freshly picked muscari

stains of blue and green from freshly picked muscari

Hello, I am back from a month-long vacation visiting my families in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was great to see them doing well and spending time together was just wonderful. I had my fair share of “pigging out” on the local fare, shopping and sight seeing in Kuala Lumpur.

It’s always overwhelming when you come back from a long vacation, and have to synchronize with the time changes and return to the routine of your daily life. In any case, I am glad to be home safe.

Upon arrival home, I was happy to see that some of my bulbs had started to bloom in the garden bed. The rows of Muscari armeniacum, or grape hyacinths that I planted last fall have already bloomed with spikes of violet-blue flowers, which resembles bunches of grapes–they are a pretty sight to see.

Muscari armeniacum, commonly known as grape hyacinth, is an early spring perennial

Muscari armeniacum, commonly known as grape hyacinth, is an early spring perennial

tulip in the prettiest pink this spring

tulip in the prettiest pink this spring

For this post, instead of bundling the flower and steaming it-I’ve decided to use a wooden rolling pin to get the color compression of the flower. With a handful of freshly picked muscari and a piece of old table linen, I am ready for this fun experiment.

a handful of muscari for this experiment

a handful of muscari for this experiment

ready to roll

ready to roll

colors are showing even after a gentle compression

colors are showing even after a gentle compression

I am happy with the results from this test. I am wondering if it will eco print for me? More on my 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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blue, violet, and green

The butterfly pea flower or Bunga Telang (Malay) is a fast growing creeper plant that is widely grown in tropical countries, such as Malaysia and other parts of Asia. The scientific name for it is clitoria ternatea, as the shape of the flower resembles part of a female genital. The plant is a perennial and bears a striking deep blue flower year-round.

freshly picked flowers from my recent trip to Malaysia

freshly picked flowers from my recent trip to Malaysia

dried pea flowers

dried pea flowers

The pea flower is commonly used as a natural blue food dye in Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine, and also to make a delicious blue tea. The blue color can be obtained using both freshly picked or dried flowers. Some popular Nyonya rice and snack dishes that uses this flower as a coloring agent are pulit inti, and bah zhang (click on link to recipe on my cooking blog). Pulut inti is a Malaysian snack made with glutinous rice and topped with coconut, while the latter is a sticky rice dumpling with a sweet and savory filling.

Nyonya bah zhang, a savory glutinous rice dumpling. The rice was pre-soaked in the blue dye before cooking

Nyonya bah zhang, a savory glutinous rice dumpling. The rice was pre-soaked in the blue dye before cooking

On my recent trip to Malaysia, I brought home some dried flowers and seeds to  try to grow in our garden. Alas, only one plant survived and grew into a thin and leggy vine, bearing tiny blue flowers. Nevertheless, I was glad to see them popping up in the garden.

An interesting observation that I’ve made with tea from pea flower is the blue changed to violet when I’ve added an acid such as lemon juice to the tea. This tells me that it is sensitive to ph.  This really piques my interest, and I wondered how it would react to fabric?

In this post, I had fabric samples dipped into the blue dye to get different results. In another test, I pre-dyed a fabric swatch in yellow with turmeric and then into the blue dye. The color changed to apple green. For violet, vinegar was added to the blue dye. Below are results from these simple experiments.

blue color from steeping dried flowers in boiling water

instant results of blue on a strip of wool fabric

instant results of blue on a strip of wool fabric

wool fabric: medium blue, without mordant

wool/silk: from blue to violet, a result from a shift of pH in the blue dye

silk fabric: pre-dyed in turmeric and then into blue dye

apple green from yellow and blue dye

blue, violet, and greens

shades of blue in shibori (resist-dyeing) on silk fabric

*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, pecan

This will be my first post for year 2015. Wishing all my readers a peaceful and joyous New Year!

Over the Christmas holidays, I found a pecan tree on my walk home from the library. It was quite by accident actually, as the normal path that I normally took was blocked for road work. The owner of the house was cleaning in the front, and I ask if I could have some of the pecan leaves. He told me to take whatever I could carry. The tree was bare with a few brown leaves on naked branches. I managed to salvaged a few green ones on the ground. As I was walking away, the owner of the house called me back, and gave me a bag of roasted pecan. I was overwhelmed by his incredibly generous gesture. A blessed day indeed!

In this post, I cut up two pieces of raw silk fabrics, and I eco-printed one piece with the freshly picked pecan leaves. The leaves were lightly dipped in iron mordant before I arranged them on the fabric. Then the bundle was rolled up tightly, and boiled in simmering water. The second piece was Shibori tied dyed with walnut hull and husks dye bath to complement the first piece that was dyed with pecan leaves. After the pieces were rinsed and dried, both pieces were sewn together to make this lovely table runner.

freshly dyed raw silk with pecan. I adore the shape and color of the leaves

freshly dyed raw silk with pecan. I adore the shape and color of the leaves

color hues in greens, yellows and browns

color hues in greens, yellows and browns

I love the way that the iron mordant edges and accentuates the stem and around the pecan leaves.

I love the way that the iron mordant edges and accentuates the stem and around the pecan leaves.

shibori dyed in walnut on the back side of the table runner.

shibori dyed in walnut on the back side of the table runner.

a half bitten pecan nut by the squirrel.

a half bitten pecan nut by the squirrel.

A song from Abba

*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.”

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