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Archive for the 'Natural Dyestuffs' Category

Whole Lotta Natural Beauty

Monday, October 1st, 2012
By Twistie

The instant I saw this piece, I needed to know more. I wanted to know more about the artist, the technique, the materials, the inspiration. I wanted to see more of the work.

The artist is Lotta Helleberg. She was born in Sweden and relocated to Virginia in the 80’s. She now lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, making art and loving nature.

The art and the nature go hand in hand at all times. Whether she’s creating wall hangings, pillows, handmade artist’s books, table runners, or sachets filled with organic lavender, Helleberg’s work combines a spare elegance with a profound respect for nature. The result, as you can see, is tremendously beautiful.

The materials she works in most include: antique/vintage linen fabric, natural dyes created from local plants, recycled/handmade paper, and silk. Her dye processes are eco-friendly, and many of the motifs are created with the help of local flora.

If you’re in the Virginia area, you’ll be able to see Helleberg’s work up close and personal from October 12 – December 5 at Over the Moon Bookstore in Crozet, VA and in the Artisans Studio Tour in Charlottesville, VA on November 10&11. Helleberg is studio #8.

Or, if you’re up in the Ontario, Canada area (As opposed to Ontario, California), Helleberg’s work will be on display at the Joshua Creek Heritage Art Center in Oakville, Ontario from November 2 – 18 as part of the show De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things).

As for the rest of us, well, we’ll just have to get by on browsing her website and her online store.

You know, I really could use a spiffy new purse….

The Past Was Colorful, Really

Friday, April 13th, 2012
By Twistie

I always find it kind of amusing that films set in the far, far past tend to show people dressed mostly in shades of brown and ecru with little touches of muddy green or dull ochre here and there. Oh, and the more poor people, the less color in general.

But the fact is that some surprising colors – and surprisingly bright shades of them! – can be produced via natural dyestuffs that would have been found growing by the side of the road.

For instance, I once chatted with a woman who dyed her own thread and wove her own fabric. She only used natural dyestuffs. I admired a scarf that included a rather delicious salmon pink stripe. What created that color? Mushrooms!

I still don’t know what kind of mushrooms they were. I didn’t think to ask and I’ve never met up with her again. All the same, there’s a variety of mushroom in the world that produces a clear, bright salmon pink when dying wool. Somehow, that makes me happy.

Depending on circumstances, using Queen Anne’s Lace as a dye might leave you with purple, green, or yellow. Oh, and dandelion roots can produce red dye.

Curious to know more? I found this handy chart of natural dyestuffs and what colors they produce over at Pioneer Thinking. You’ll also find some good basic information to get you started dyeing for yourself. Oh, and there are pages of tips from readers.

Berry, Berry Good

Monday, January 16th, 2012
By Twistie

I don’t know about all of you, but I can always use a good tea towel. I like to have a good supply on hand, too, because I use the suckers. My kitchen isn’t just decorative, after all. So I like to have pretty things in it that I can also use.

That’s why I love this pretty screen printed hemp and organic cotton tea towel by jennarosehandmade over at Etsy. It’s  bright, cheery and useful all at once for just $15.00.

Mmm… berries. I like.

Herbal History at Plimoth Plantation

Friday, July 1st, 2011
By Twistie

There are hundreds of uses in craft for herbs. From pretty dried sprigs for your wreath to fragrant additions to your potpourri to colors for inks and dyes, herbs are wildly useful to the handmade lifestyle.

The folks at Plimoth Plantation understand this. That’s why they’re holding a series of workshops with renowned English herbalist Tina Stapely from July 14 – 19.

Whether your interest is in historical cookery, planning and growing your herb garden, medicinal uses, or, yes, dyestuffs and inks, there’s a hands on workshop for you.

I know if this was happening on my coast, I’d be there! Let’s see… cooking or dyes and inks….


Planting and Dying

Friday, March 18th, 2011
By Twistie

Ah, marigolds. So pretty. Pretty easy to grow, too. But they have another advantage for crafters: they make very pretty dyes. Using the flowers, you can make a range of yellows.

If you have a garden and a kitchen, you can create your own dyes from natural products to prettify your hand spun threads and yarns or your hand woven fabrics. And marigolds are far from the only plants you can use to dye things pretty colors.

Snapdragons and lilacs can be used to make green dyes. Virginia creeper and weeping willow will produce shades in the pink to salmon range. Choose indigo or woad for blues. Madder and rose hips can make red dyes, as can the lowly dandelion. Hey! That means even those of us who have terminal black thumb (the polar opposite of green thumb) can still make dyes from our own gardens!

Want to know more? You might start with these two articles I found:

This one is from Pioneer Thinking,

And this one is from Sheepy Hollow Farm Life.

Now… I wonder if I could get a couple daffodils to grow without keeling over too quickly.

Or maybe I’ll just play with the bumper crop of dandelions I already have!

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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