Posts Tagged ‘urban dye garden’

This spring I started to convert one of my community garden plots in Kitsilano into an urban dye garden… my hope is that after a few years every plant in this plot will provide me with reliable colours. My dye instructor at Capilano University (Anthea) kindly let me take a few little seedlings of weld from the dye garden we started at school last year – as well as giving me some woad, wild indigo and weld seeds.

Weld – mature because it was a seedling from last year’s Capilano University garden. I have some 1st year seedlings coming up from the seeds I planted.

I’m so grateful to Anthea because for some reason our Canadian seed company Richter’s does not sell dye seeds anymore – not sure why? Anybody know?

Woad – Year 1! See the little slug holes! All this rain has encouraged the little buggers.

Except for the wild indigo – everything is doing great! I also planted marigold seeds that a fellow community gardener had saved from last year… along with carrot seeds. I think all this rain we have been having has made the woad extremely happy – I guess this makes sense as woad was historically a crop grown in England.

I can’t wait to try the woad with the weld for dyeing to see what kind of green I can get – and to see what shade of blue comes from this first planting of woad in my urban plot.

I already have some plants that come back from before that I can use for dyeing like hollyhocks ( bi-annual plant) …and peonies.

Hollyhock leaf with visitor – I have 3 different hollyhocks in the garden this year – should be interesting.

My neighbour’s raspberry canes are taking over part of my plot – so although I was grumbling about them taking up too much space – I’m looking forward to using the berries for dyeing. I have gobbled up a few of them already – so yummy – I will have to think of my dye possibilities and not eat all of them when the sun finally comes out and they all start bursting with delicious redness. I think I’ll clear out some of the canes in the fall and plant some more dahlias which give a range of golden yellow to orange depending on what mordant is used – space is at a premium in my wee community garden plot. I’m so greedy – I do have two community plots!! I also lifted a few of the gorgeous dark purple iris plants in my other garden-  so I will have a reliable source for this powerful dye plant in my dedicated dye plot.

Black iris – this gives great colour

Here is the silk scarf that I dyed with the iris blossom – eco wrap with rebar technique.

85% rayon15% silk scarf – wrapped with iris + last year’s lichen dye bath

Beloved trug – handmade in Sussex in the traditional way – that I collect my blossoms and edibles in from my garden.

Pounded allium (early spring) + wrapped purple sage with rust rebar

I’m pretty excited by the sage as it was one of the first botanical that I used when I started the textile arts program at Cap. I used the leaves as my ‘found object’ hblock print and I spent hours and hours in the school studio trying to finish my project carefully applying pigment on the leaves (countless) and braying them to get the print. I thought the overall design was not successful – but it gave me a taste of using natural plant materials as a source for a design. This piece was wrapped with the rusted rebar and I was amazed at how clear the results were. The allium image was from a previous layer on the mordanted linen – where I pounded the allium that is an early to mid-spring wonder. When I unwrapped the bundle – I rinsed it and it held the print. I’m curing it and will heat press it and them probably overdye with my frozen stash of blossoms. I kind of like the brown tones though as they are.

Sword Fern patina…

I tried a wrap with another piece of mordanted linen (btw – used tara root for the mordant) using the brown offcuts from the sword fern I was editing in the garden. It left a pretty sweet print although I wish I had bound it a little tighter. Again, I used last year’s lichen dye bath to moisten the bundle.

100% silk sucked up the peony & iris blossoms

II will post some wearable fashion shots in a later post as this is more about process – but the peony blossoms + iris + pansy blossoms + lichen dye batch – was accepted readily by the 100% silk scarf I bound them in.

In my next Urban Dye Garden V2 installment I’ll be posting the other plants that are coming along… not ready to harvest yet… marigolds, black eyed susan (not enough sun for them to grow right now), carrots, hollyhocks, etc.


Read Full Post »