Wednesday, March 31, 2010

dye book, 1984

eva, over at tinctory, got me thinking about dyebooks. my first dye book was a handmade blue jean paper sewn on linen tapes laced in a linen single sheet cover. 
i decided to use it since it was irreparably altered by an anonymous autumn festival goer who spilled coffee on my table while i slipped away.
here you can see the windows cut into the spine of the cover revealing the pink linen sewing over linen tapes made from an old cloth.
the coffee damage was extensive. i wrote about my making of the book with papermaker peggy prentice (one of the original twins of twinrocker).
i love lichens, they keep their secrets. one of them is incredible pigment. umbilicaria dye, month long fermentation in ammonia and water. the folded page opens to reveal information about the yarn and dyeing particulars.
this is one strong dyestuff! my friends butch and pat bramhall made me some earrings out of silver and dyed porcupine quills. here: quills, cotton and linen cloth, silk thread, wool, mohair.
on cotton paper, birch bark, and woven raw silk from henry's attic.
an odd little weaving playing with wool, silk and birch bark.
my experience in natural dyeing lead to oceans of yellows and sad orange woolens, even from grapes. rita buchanan changed my understanding of dyeing in one important way: do not over cook or boil dyebaths, especially the red pigments, which become fugitive when heated above (oh dear, well below boiling, anyway).
more yellows from bloodroot. however, on handspun silk top it is exquisite.
over the years the soft pink has faded, even out of direct sunlight. probably because i boiled the tiny red dots instead of processing at low heat.
another vat dye: copper penny dye on my ewe lily's lincoln x fleece. and raffia.
these are the yellows i got so tired of. calendula. should have been stronger.
they are once again lovely on lily's fleece.
and at the end of the book, some fiber treasures: silk handspun, my first spun paper for shifu, a lock of hannah's hair, and spider's nest silk found by ian.

when i look through this book i remember the blank feeling i got from my friend dreamer  telling me someone had spilled coffee on my table. the blue jean and linen papers have held up well for 25 or so years, despite the accident. and this book has gifts from both of my (then quite young) children.


aimee said...

LOVE this. b/c i have a similar process of keeping records--not always as extensive as yours, but still that feeling is familiar. and, yes, ENDLESS yellows!! i feel you on that.

Virginia said...

I *almost* like the coffee stains. Is this one of the experiences that taught you not to get "precious" about things? The finished product here is precious - coffee stains and all.

Dianne said...

This dye book is exquisite... even with the coffee stains. You do such lovely work.

Jeana Marie said...

It is so beautiful Velma!

jude said...

you are so careful in your record keeping. the coffee is a reminder of something.

Joei Rhode Island said...

oooooo...this is truely wonderful. And you have such a delightful record of your experiments. The coffee is dye, too.

Sweetpea said...

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful WONDERFUL record of your earlier time with dyes...I could look at this post over & over and learn something each time.

Velma said...

praise is unwarranted. this record is so haphazard and piecemeal, and no standardized processing notes...but thank you all the same.

Catherine Alice said...

What an exquisite record. I love how the mundane things we do for ourselves can become the most beautiful of treasures.

iNdi@ said...

thank you for sharing this exquisite treasure

Deb G said...

Some beautiful samples! I'm even more inspired to gather together my samples a bit better.

And...I was just shaking my head last night because the wool I dyed in onion skins was the same yellow as the eucalyptus I tried recently.

Eva said...

Wonderful! Can't even tell you how much I like this :) (sorry if that annoys you but including the coffee stains) Thank you for the peek inside your book.

Velma said...

the coffee spill was just a blow, and maybe good, because instead of selling it i have it still. it is a nice little book!

neki desu said...

back from my break and your book leaves me speechless.

Julia Moore said...

I love your dyer's book. I am also exploring dyeing with lichens...where did you find your lichens that give the red color? I can't find anything in my region that gives red! (I live In Washington State.) P.S. If you had not said that coffee was spilled on the cover, I never would have known, I like the marks it left, at least in the photo it looks planned and beautiful.

Velma said...

this lichen, umbilicaria mammulata, grows near the adirondack forest preserve on rock outcrops, particularly on south facing slopes. please gather with permission and great moderation.

Judy Martin said...

Wow, Velma.
I am speechless about this beautiful and informative art piece.

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