I was privileged to spend a weekend recently with about 15 other women at a workshop on Dyeing with the plants that are all around us. I have been interested in dyeing for years, and have done a little yarn dyeing with Procion Dyes. When I found out about this workshop there was only one spot left. I guess it was meant to be mine, so I took it.
There is a story behind the way I discovered this workshop, which I will not go into here. Let’s just simply call it a “God Thing.” Sometimes you just have to be alert to what He is saying, and be obedient.
What fun! And what an interesting time it was. I learned the process of using plant products as dyes (other than onion skins and black walnuts, both of which I had tried) and what mordants to use to achieve certain colors.
We also learned leaf printing, which was FANTASTIC! The card I made for today uses a piece of the watercolor paper that I leaf printed in a Sumac dye bath, with iron as a mordant.
I liked the colors it made, a sort of very pale yellow with dark edges, which I interpreted as Early Espresso. There were gray undertones, which I decided were Gray Granite. The pale yellow became So Saffron, so those are the colors of my card.
The watercolor paper was layered with leaves. I used different ones, Birch, Oak, Maple, Ninebark and Wisteria, as well as a weed that had an interesting leaf and some ferns. These multiple layers were tied together and dropped into the dye bath.
Today’s card features a Birch branch with several leaves.
I began with an Early Espresso card base and matted a panel of So Saffron on that. I then trimmed the dyed watercolor paper to fit with the teeniest of margins. All of the layers are adhered with Liquid Glue, except for the front sentiment piece, which is attached with Stampin’ Dimensionals.
The sentiment is Early Espresso stamped on Gray Granite and cut with the framelits from the Blended Seasons Bundle. The sentiment is from Rooted in Nature. One of the leaf stamps in Rooted in Nature mimics the Birch leaves, so I stamped it in Gray Granite on So Saffron and cut it out with the coordinating framelit in the bundle.
On the inside I stamped the same leaf in Gray Granite ink on Gray Granite card stock. This became my mat for the sentiment panel, which is So Saffron. The leaves in the corners are stamped in Gray Granite and the sentiment is Early Espresso. This sentiment is from Healing Hugs.
To sort of give the inside the same organic sense of nature, I sponged around the edges of the So Saffron panel with a sponge Dauber and a bit of Early Espresso.
I really like the way this card turned out, and am excited to make more cards with some of the other leaf prints I did.
The Very Vanilla envelope simply has the same leaf pattern stamped in Gray Granite on both the front and the flap.
I hope you enjoy this card as much as I enjoyed making it. Even more did I enjoy the dyeing process. I just have to accumulate more big pots in which to do my dyeing, so I can fit in larger pieces.
In all, we did 10 or 11 dye baths using Oak, Hickory, red cabbage, Barberry, sumac, Red Maple, Lemongrass, goldenrod, poke berry and Marigold. We used different parts of the various plants, seeds, berries, leaves, bark, husks, etc, and different mordants produced different colors.
For example, my partner and I gathered Goldenrod flowers and leaves and put them in the pot with water. When the water boiled and turned color, we dipped out 3 samples to try with different mordants. The prettiest yellow resulted from the one with Alum as a mordant. The Copper lent a green color and the Iron made a dark greenish gray. All were lovely colors, but we decided to use the Alum for a lovely yellow.
I came home with not only my paper pieces, but several lengths of dyed and printed silk as well. And samples from each of the dye baths and the different mordants. This could easily become my new passion, but at the moment I have too many irons in the fire to spend any time doing it. There is always next year, and I will take the lessons learned in this process to another level, as well as doing some research and accumulating the necessary equipment.
There is a whole host of plants, or plant parts, that can be used for dyeing, from Avocado to Yarrow. Many of them are in ancient recipes for dyeing cloth, and I am quite interested in trying some to see what results.
For now, I will keep making cards. I purchased more watercolor paper yesterday, so perhaps I can do more leaf printing before all the leaves fall from the trees.
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Card Cuts: Early Espresso: card base 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″, scored at 4-1/4″: So Saffron: front mat 4-1/8″ x 5-3/8″, inside sentiment panel 3-1/4″ x 4-1/2″, leaf 2″ x 2″; Gray Granite: front sentiment 2-1/2″ x 3-1/2″, inside mat 4″ x 5-1/4″.