Monday, 11 April 2011

Anyone know what plant this is please?

This magnificent colour on a colour catcher, tied in a knot then dropped in a dye pot, came from this shrub below which grows in our local park. I took a fancy to it so snook round its back and liberated try and dye with.
Your quite right, yes I can almost hear India's words from her book, saying you must always identify it before you pick it.....
Anyway I was so thrilled with the colour it produced ( Im in a hard water area, but I used rainwater anyway..)I went back next day to liberate some more, to add to the dye stock...well, there are alot of these bushes...
But I have no idea what it is, so does anyone out there happen to recognise it please? Then I will go and buy one! A closer view is below.

 You can see the colour catcher absorbed the colour heavily but the shiborie-ish stitched silk noil on the left took it nicely too. On the right is linen and I used diluted Soy milk drink as a mordant although the pan was co mordant I suppose as well and it was steel.

My next surprise was from this vicious Mahonia, given to me by a lovely lady who answered my plea on our Freegle yahoo group for fallen eucalyptus bark. (Freecyle by any other name, not at all sure why in Hull it is called Freegle, very odd.)
She had cut it back and the trunks were a good 2" diameter and when cut the inside showed a vivid yellow!
This buttercup yellow pales after a while, oxydisation maybe?

Annie wondered if she could put the wood in the kiln with her clay pots and it make any colouration effect on the pots as they fired.
I have no idea, wonder if any one else has tried that?
I suggested she try in any case, but she kindly gave me some of the plant for me to try and dye with it in the meantime.

In Indias book she says the leaves are used, but OH BOY! Try slicing off the outer bark which is beautifully textured, and stewing that for an hour or two!
 I got a stunning vibrant green dye bath! The inner trunk is paler yellow but bleeds darker yellow when recut or wetted, so marks fabric thats wrapped round it fine. It does stain your fingers but happily washes off the hands. But the dye is pretty substantive losing only a little in washing the once.
Sadly the colours dont show well here but trust me, I got sage on builders scrim ( maybe the glue/size stuff in it had an effect there?), acid green on cotton, jonquil yellow on these old table cloths and bright yellows and dark golds on some natural wools I tied bundles up with.
Ive had 2 dye baths from each shrub and I havent touched the Mahonia leaves yet!

 The wierd bluey tinged piece far left here, may be a piece I dipped in vinegar, I think.. But its an unusual colour and Im quite chuffed with it..of course no hope of achieving it again Im sure lol

A closer view of that colouration here..

Above is the noil showing where Id shiboried and scrunched it. But the one on the right, was simply stitched diagonally across corner to corner, and the shade is from the unknown bush at top of this post....
But this bottom pic shows another one of the shiboried-ish noil pieces that was then slipped into the Mahonia bath, after the unknown bush had already stained it the burgundy/brown!
The three other pieces in this last piccy were from the blood red dye bath from a Verbena from a friends garden.........this is so much fun so how sad am I!!
Forgot Id taken this pic too..shows the layers of bark Im stripping off for the dye bath and the sharp bright yellow beneath.


  1. Just thought I would pop over and see what you were up to. Then looked up India Flint and spent the rest of my allotted internet time over there - website and journal both amazing. Must get the book too - am assuming you would recommend it. :)
    Your dye results look fab by the way. Can't you just take a cutting of that shrub?

  2. It never occured to me to take a cutting!!!
    How daft am I then? lol
    Yes I do recommend India Flints book Eco Dyeing, full of great information about indigenous use of natural dye products from many areas of the world, past and present day. Also tips and shared results thats she has found and proven, or not, since eco dyeing is not always a precise art!

  3. Hey Liniecat- you are so busy, it is hard to keep up with all your works; this dying is so inspiring. And of course I adore how you go about foraging for stuff....

  4. I think I may have been a butterfly in a former life lol.......ask me how many UFOs I have !!!

  5. that certainly is a strong yellow, thanks for telling me about it.



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