Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Last chance to enter submissions for the 'Festival of The Trees' May edition

Image borrowed from Flickr.
Please click on the image to visit the photographer.

Submissions for the May edition of 'Festival of The Trees' were due today but I am happy to accept any submissions before 1st May. The theme is Maypole and Beltane but any tree inspired post will be considered.

All are welcome xJ

Friday, 16 April 2010

Erosion Bundle (Part II)

My erosion bundle has rested in this hedge since I collected it from my dad's garden a couple of days ago.

You can imagine my disappointment when I found it, seemingly unchanged, tucked into the heart of this bay tree. It serves me right for not trusting myself to keep it suspended from a tree in my own garden. The temptation to peek or meddle would have been too much for me.

The gentleman's napkin that wrapped my little bundle, revealed things that I forgotten all about. Pine cones, heather, ears of barley, all damp from the rain.

Natural paper, and beech leaves, they seem so right together don't they?

A mixture of natural fibres. Wool of natural colour, or dyed with natural dyes. A small selection of pre-dyed wool that was given to me as a gift.

The heather has changed a lot. softer, less vivid in hue, mingled with alpaca wool.

A felted heart resting on some green cotton nuno gauze. I'm looking forward to playing with these.

And at the centre, another bundle with an acorn cup peaking out.

I enjoyed unrolling this nuno silk so much. Magical oak leaves...

Leaving their enchanting prints.

A label for the first felt kit I ever bought. A reminder of the artist who introduced me to felt, and made the shroud that I buried my baby girl in a year ago today.

Its funny how things turn out. I look back now, and find myself a changed person with new outlooks and skills. I marvel at some of my inspirational blogging friends that have also endured a lot. Who smile, create beauty, and share kind words.

You have all been a blessing in my life and today, I am feeling fine, optimistic.

I see so much potential for this bundle, and am thrilled with my silk prints.

Have a wonderful week end xJ

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The First Rule of Flower Club

Is never talk about Flower Club...

Its a messy job, but I'll give it a go.

I've wanted to do this since I saw Sharon of Wildflower House writing about it last August. Sharon has done a much neater job than me, but it is so much fun. I have a feeling I will be doing this again very soon.

I love some of the gentler patterns. Makes me think it is time I learned how to use my sewing machine.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Spring Dye Baths

We have been having some wonderful Spring days this past week. I have managed to tidy up my garden. I have a had a slow cooker gently simmering away on the patio for 3 whole days and have so many plans for more dye baths and dye pot experiments.

This is a picture of my St Johns Wort dye bath which was taken a couple of days ago. It looks very different now but I am going to keep it going for as long as the weather permits. I cocked it up a bit. I misread the instructions, mistaking the part that said soak the St Johns Wort (entire plant) in alcohol for soaking the wool in alcohol. When I realised I began topping the water level up with the alcohol/water solution each morning and i can now see that the red is drawing to the bark. I think had i have soaked the St John's Wort in alcohol overnight, then boiled the plant pieces to extract the colour I would have had a speedier, more successful result, however, St Johns Wort is noxious and I only have a tiny kitchen so using the slow cooker in the garden was the only sensible option available to me. There are gradual changes happening so I think it is worth persevering with.

India Flint writes in her book that she only uses the flowers of St Johns Wort, where Pioneer Thinking website says to use the whole plant so it will be interesting to try both methods, I will have to wait to try a flower bath. India also writes that a deep red can be achieved but if alum is added to the brew then the dye will turn green. I am keen to give this a try too.

Here are two colours achieved using onion skins for the dye. I did not pre-soak the fool in any fixatives. The pale yellow to the left is dyed without a mordant. The orange shade to the right is using the same ingredients for the dye bath with the addition of a chrome plated tin added to the bottom of the pan. Its really interesting for me to see just how much difference a flattened piece of metal can make to the colour.

Here you can see some excess water from the onion skin dye pot being stored in a recycled bottle, and also in a glass jar to solar dye a piece of silk. My next plan is to save up more onion skins then solar dye a bundle. In the jug, you can see Lilac twigs soaking in a solution of alcohol and water.

I did two dye pots yesterday, Lilac twigs, and half a butternut squash.

The wool to the left is from the butternut squash seeds and husks and the wool to the right is from the Lilac twigs. For both dye pots, I prepared the wool in vinegar prior to dyeing and used chrome in dye pot. This picture does not really show how pretty these shades are. I am very pleased with them.

I am now saving up spent daffodils to use in a dye pot and am eagerly awaiting the lilac blooms which are said to give a green dye. We usually have blooms on our lilac tree by now but we are only just starting to see the leaves appear.

Until then you can read my guest blogger post at Luchair, and I am still taking submissions for the May Day edition of The Festival of The Trees.

I wish you all a wonderful week x

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Eco Dyes and Egg Decorations

This week end I have really been doing the Easter thing for my little girl. We hid chocolate all around the house for her to find. We then went on an Easter Egg hunt at the Botanical Gardens, did face painting and made an Easter Bonnet.

When we returned, my little girl helped me wrap eggs in flowers, herbs and onion skins to Dye Latvian style as explained by India Flint in her book Eco Colour.

An egg about to be wrapped in skins, petals, leaves and silk

My egg bundles simmering away

Dyed hard boiled eggs rubbed with a little butter

I have also done a lot of natural dyeing this weekend. I brought a huge bag of seaweed back with me from Wales. I have been boiling and simmering wool in seaweed dye for 2 full days. The smell is not for the faint hearted :)

The first of the three pictures shows some merino after simmering for around 10 hours and then being left to rest in the excess dye solution overnight. The third picture shows the other half of the wool batch after a further 10 hours simmering. It is difficult to see in these pictures but the second batch is slightly darker by maybe 2-3 shades.

The iodine in the seaweed has produced a very nice pale amber colour.

I did not use any mordant as was unsure which one to use.

I think I will have to make some felt with this wool and experiment with starch. Traditionally, starch and iodine combined will produce a blue black colour but I don't know if this principle will still apply after the iodine has been through the dye pot process. I will have fun finding out though :)

We have had wonderful sunshine today. It has been very energising.

I hope you have all had a good week end xJ

Friday, 2 April 2010

Spring Projects

Thank you for all of your well wishes for my Nan. My Nan was discharged from hospital last Friday and seems to be doing very well at home now.

I returned from Wales to find a thank you present from Lisa Atchison of a Touch of Glass Designs. If you are not familiar with Lisa's work, please pay her a visit. Lisa has this magical ability to fashion leaves into the glass or to create a moonlit tree scape into her beads. Lisa's work is really enchanting.

I also found my copy of Susan Sanford's new book waiting for me when I returned. I love Susan's work and am looking forward to sitting down and reading through this book properly. You can preview Dreaming Alice by Susan Sanford by clicking HERE.

I didn't manage to create anything at all in March but have had a lot of fun making Easter cards and baskets, sleepy bunny's etc with my little girl. I have a lot of plans and projects planned for April and look forward to sharing a lot of new creations with you.

I have written an article for Elizabeth M Rimmer, a poet who kindly asked me to be a guest blogger for her Luchair project. You should be ale to read the article in the next few days. Elizabeth is a published poet who is deeply concerned about environmental issues. I feel honoured to have been invited to be part of this project which has a wealth of guests lined up including wildlife photographers and poet Juliet Wilson (Crafty Green Poet). Juliet is a published poet who was published in an anthology of poetry which included poetry from Carol Anne Duffy, the first female poet laureate. You can visit the Luchair website by clicking on the Luchair button on my sidebar or by visiting the Luchair Blog.

I will also be hosting the May edition of 'Festival of The Trees' which will be published on May the 1st. The May theme will be May Day. The Festival of the Trees is a nature blog which has a wealth of contributions from scientists but welcomes submissions from artists, poets, creative writers, jewelry makers textile and fibre artists. If you have anything tree themed i would be interested in receiving your contributions on or before 27th April 2010. Any questions please do not hesitate to drop me an email or leave a comment.

I would also like to thank Juliet of Crafty Green Poet and Fairwillow of Serendipity for my blog awards. Please accept my apologies on having had time to pass them on yet.

For those of you looking for fun Easter projects, Fairwillow has written a wonderful Blown Ostara Egg tutorial.

I look forward to visiting you all again over the next few days.