nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for February 2014

harvesting colour – gathering more materials

with 6 comments

As I get ready for my first experiences with dyeing, I have thought about the materials I will be using.  I don’t want to get too complicated and sabotage my real aim, the poetry I will write.  I will try to keep it simple and generate lots of fuel for my writing.

Textile fibre:  As I explained in my previous post on ‘harvesting colour’, I will use both plant (three old cotton shirts) and animal fibres (unspun wool and silk fabric).

Source water:  I will be using our well water – slightly acidic and high in several minerals.  Our water is so acid, it reacts with the copper piping in our house to stain all the drains in our house a copper sulphate blue. I know that the acidity of the source water influences the colour outcome.   For some of the plant dyes I will use (for example madder), I will want to adjust the water acidity to get a full range of possible colours.

water crisis 2013

during our problems with our pump and well in 2013, we missed our tasty well water

~

Utensils:  Last fall I bought myself a large stainless steel pot for my dyeing projects since I know it is important to keep my dying utensils separate from our cookware.  I also have my Mother-in-law’s copper teapot if I want to add some ‘copper kettle’ to my dye projects (copper is a mordant, an addition that helps keep textiles colourfast).

~

copper kettle

my mother-in-law’s copper kettle – since my husband doubts it is solid copper, I may have to add some copper pennies to get the mordant effect of copper

~

Plant material:  Even in winter, I have access to many plant materials for dying.  I have various flower petals and other plant material from my various botanizing adventures.  The drying line in my kitchen has a bouquet of tansy gathered last fall and a net bag of onion peelings I have collected since Christmas.  I have acorns collected last fall and, outside, access to the bark of various trees, including birch (I am anxious to try this since I understand birch bark can dye in hues of red).   In my freezer, I have frozen berries, including a tub of red currents picked by my Mom over ten years ago – I plan to use her berries to dye material for my weaving, after I have gained a little experience.  As for in-season plants, I know my husband is looking forward to being dragged all over the countryside in search of various kinds of plants (he was a very helpful participant in my ‘growing and gathering’ project.

~

oak leaves with a cluster of acorns

oak leaves with a cluster of acorns

~

For next Friday’s ‘harvesting colour’ post, I’ll talk a little about mordants and colour modifiers and I think I’ll post my first poem in the series!

~

Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

February 28, 2014 at 6:43 am

yet another Cornwall gate

with 7 comments

As you may have seen on my ‘accomplishments’ page, I have sold the painting ‘rainbow gate in Falmouth’. It was on display as part of an art auction at Isaac’s Way Restaurant in Fredericton.

~

The art at auction at Isaac’s Way helps local children’s charities, in this case providing opportunities for summer theatre. Once I have sold a painting, I can replace the painting with another and now ‘gate in Ponsanooth’ is up for auction!  You can see the painting at  https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/another-cornwall-gate/ .

~

I am continuing to paint in my Cornwall gates series.  This past weekend, I painted another gate from Ponsanooth entitled ‘enter’.  Gates are meaningful to me, as metaphors for change and as representative of possibility.  And the various building materials, stone, cement, wood and metal, are very enjoyable to paint …

~

February 22, 2014  'enter'  Jane Tims

February 22, 2014 ‘enter’ Jane Tims

~

Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

February 26, 2014 at 7:08 am

industry and old barns (day 15 and 16)

with 6 comments

One of the best things about ‘biking’ a new section of road every time I exercise is – I never know what theme is going to suggest itself …

~

15-16

~

8-15  February 12, 2014   30 minutes  (Jacquet River to Culligan)

8-16   February 16, 2014   35 minutes (Culligan to Belledune)

~

This session of virtual touring took me to Belledune.  The area is quite industrialized, since it is the site of the Xstrata Zinc Canada Brunswick Smelter  …

~

smelter

~

and the location of the Belledune Thermal Generating Station …

~

power plant

~

The smelter is a primary lead smelter and refinery.  Its air emissions are controlled by various process-specific pollution control equipment including a scrubber and baghouse facilities.

The 450 MW (megawatt) generator burns coal and has a ‘scrubber’ to help remove sulphur dioxide emissions. At the present time, there are only two thermal generating stations still operating in New Brunswick. Most of the rest of our power comes from hydroelectric and nuclear stations; we also have some wind power.

I studied the air emissions of both the thermal generating station and the smelter at Belledune.

~

At first glance, this industrial activity in a mostly rural area may seem out-of-place.  However, the smelter and generating station use the Port of Belledune.  This is a world-class deep water port in the Baie-des-Chaleurs with year-round cargo handling ability.   The port, one of Atlantic Canada’s most successful, offers a gateway to North America.

~

In the midst of all this industrial activity, in my search for paintings to represent my ‘travels’, I chose images of the rural landscape …

~

an old barn with red doors …

~

img002_crop

February 21, 2014 ‘barn along the bay’ Jane Tims

~

and a barn near a huge Mountain Ash, its red berries magnificent …

~

February 22, 2014  'red berries - Mountain Ash'  Jane Tims

February 22, 2014 ‘red berries – Mountain Ash’ Jane Tims

~

Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

harvesting colour – onion skins in a pickle jar

with 10 comments

According to India Flint (Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles, Interweave Press, 2010) the principal ingredient in any natural dyeing project is time (and patience).  Now, while I am still getting organized, I have decided to begin with a simple project that can take all the time it needs.

I have chosen a cotton shirt for this project.  I wore it for a couple of years and loved its iridescent buttons, rows of ruffles and embroidered details.  Then it became stained and I put it away.

~

IMG862_crop

my 100% cotton shirt

~

Today, I scattered the onion skins I have saved across its surface – some from Yellow Onions and some from Red Onions.  As I worked, I sprayed apple cider vinegar to wet the fabric.  Then I rolled it up tightly and poked it into a big pickle jar.  For at least a month, I will leave the jar to sit on my window sill and cook in the sun.  If it starts to grow mold, I am going to stuff it in the freezer.  The biggest challenge was getting all that material to fit in the jar!

~

003_crop

materials for my onion skin dyeing project – the platter is so you cannot see my messy kitchen …

~

011_crop

all I can say is ‘yum’ …

~

If you hear of a smelly house for sale in rural New Brunswick, you will know something went terribly wrong.  I will show you the results, as well as the poem this generates, in about a month’s time …

~

IMG863_crop

detail of the machine embroidery on my cotton shirt

~

Copyright  2014   Jane Tims  

Written by jane tims

February 21, 2014 at 7:49 am

islands and gorges (day 13 and 14)

with 6 comments

My virtual bike ride continues with a ride from Blackland to Belledune …

~

13-14

distance travelled (map from Google Earth)

~

8-13  February 5, 2014   20 minutes  3.0 km (Blackland to Sea Side)

8-14   February 8, 2014   35 minutes  7.0 km (Sea Side to west of Belledune)

~

As I have said, I have often visited the area I am ‘biking’ through as part of my past work.  In the 1970s and 1980s, we visited many sites in the area to measure the levels of air pollutants in local lichens.  We collected lichens of the genus Cladina (reindeer lichens) since they absorb all of their nutrition from the air and air pollutants accumulate in their tissues …

~

DSCF2040

species of the lichen ‘Cladina’ grow in tufts on high elevation, rocky areas and in low-lying bogs

~

One of our sampling locations was Heron Island, an island 3.5 km long, lying just off the coast …

~

satellite image of Heron Island (map from Google Earth)

satellite image of Heron Island (map from Google Earth)

~

I have been on the island several times … it was a good place to collect lichens since there are not many local emissions to contaminate the sample (no cars, dusty roads, and so on).

~

The island is a landscape of low-lying salt marsh and beach as well as forested and grown-over old-field areas.  On the boat on the way to the island, I remember watching scallop fishermen working on their barges in the shallow waters.  Although people have lived on the island as recently as 1940, the island is now protected and co-managed by the provincial government and First Nations peoples who have traditionally used the island as a summer residence.

~

Today’s painting is of a rather stormy day along the bay shore just east of Heron Island …

~

February 11, 2014  'Baie des Chaleurs'   Jane Tims

February 11, 2014 ‘Baie des Chaleurs’ Jane Tims

~
Also in the area where I was ‘biking’ is the very hilly landscape of the Jacquet River.  The high elevation plateau has been deeply eroded by the Jacquet River – the river and its tributaries flow through deep gorges.  The 26,000 hectare ‘Jacquet River Gorge’ is one of New Brunswick’s Protected Natural Areas.  Reaching the locations of our lichen collections took us deep into the area and I remember how steep the hills (and the roads) were as we went to our collection sites.

~

February 17, 2014  'lower Jacquet River'  Jane Tims

February 17, 2014 ‘lower Jacquet River’ Jane Tims

~

Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

harvesting colour – the formula for colour

with 4 comments

My first effort towards my project is to understand what materials I will need.  From my early reading, I have learned the end colour for any project using natural dyes is much more than just adding plant material to water.  A final colour is the result of so many factors.

~

My simple formula for this complex symphony is:

final colour = source water + utensils + plant material (dyestuff) + mordent + colour modifier + textile fibre 

~

No doubt, I will discover I have omitted some important element.

~

In my next posts, I will consider each of these elements and talk about the specific items I intend to use.

~

For example, I will need some textile fibre to dye.  My intention is to dye small amounts of material for use in various weaving projects.  In my weaving, I use both thread and strips of textiles.

At this early stage, I have three materials I want to dye.  I have a small quantity of unspun fleece obtained a couple of years ago during our trip to Upper Canada Village in Ontario.  I also have three old cotton shirts – I loved to wear these before they became stained – perhaps I will wear them again, repurposed in rainbow colour!  And I have just purchased a meter of white silk (at $37 per meter, it is a splurge!).   I will have to do some preparatory cleaning to each of these materials before I use them in my dyeing projects.

~

062_crop

some materials for dyeing … a meter of silk, three shirts, and a bundle of unspun wool … the shirts have already seen their share of accidental dyeing !!!

~

Behind the scenes, I am finding poetic inspiration as I learn this craft of dyeing.  Eventually I will be brave enough to show my poems to you.

~

Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

February 17, 2014 at 6:59 am

harvesting colour – a reference library

with 2 comments

To begin my poetry project ‘harvesting colour’, I have created a small reference library.   I will keep my library by my desk in the loft I use as my studio.  I wrote most of the poems for my ‘growing and gathering’ manuscript there.

desk

on my desk

To decide what books to order, I followed some suggestions made by Pia, an experienced dyer (follow her dyeing adventures at Colour Cottage – www.colourcottage.wordpress.com).

~

I started with three books:

Rita Buchanan, 1999, A Dyer’s Garden (Dover Publications)

Jenny Dean, 2010, Wild Color: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes (Watson-Guptill Publications)

India Flint, 2010, Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles (Interweave Press)

~

I am sure I will be adding others as my project goes on, but for now these books have lots of great advice for a beginning dyer.  Along with these books, I have my entire library of illustrated botanical guides, including floras of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and North America to help me identify the plants I will need.

~

060_crop

my growing dyers library

~

Roaming through these books as an ‘armchair dyer’ reminds me of the thrill of looking over seed catalogues while the snows of winter are falling.

Although I have not read any of these books in their entirety, I will give you a brief description of each:

~

IMG860_crop

Rita Buchanan, 1999, A Dyer’s Garden (Dover Publications)

~

Rita Buchanan’s A Dyer’s Garden is a straightforward guide to using plants for various cottage craft purposes.  The guide includes information on using plants as dyes, as well as for stuffing, soap-making and a source of fragrance.  The chapter on dyes provides a step by step method, as well as an in-depth description of various plants useable for dyes.  I love the black and white line drawings for some of these plants.  The book includes practical information throughout on growing these plants and on the history of their use. 

~

IMG859_crop

Jenny Dean, 2010, Wild Color: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes (Watson-Guptill Publications)

~

Jenny Dean’s book, Wild Color, is a riot of colour.  Easy to flip through, it has detailed sections on various stages of the dyeing process.  A useful feature for me will be her illustrated guide to some common plants used as dyestuffs.  I particularly like her colour charts of results obtained with various dyestuff, mordants and modifiers.  She also includes some background material on the history of dyers and dyeing.

~

IMG861_crop

India Flint, 2010, Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles (Interweave Press)

~

Eco Colour by India Flint is a well-illustrated book, full of photos of the author’s work with plants and fabrics.  You can tell she has been there every step of the way – included in the photos are her handwritten notes.  She describes well the process of dyeing and provides practical information.  She also includes lots of examples of colour transfers (eco prints) – leaves are applied directly to the cloth to make colour prints.  The book includes an extensive list of plants sorted by the colours they produce.

~

I can hardly wait to thoroughly read these three books.  Besides looking for a step by step approach, I will be on the hunt for words from the dyer’s vocabulary to include in my poems.

~

Another resource I will use for my project will be the Internet.  I read the blogs of a few dyers regularly, to learn something from their experiences, to get their advice and to better know these people who turn their appreciation of colour in nature into capturing colour.  I’m sure you will enjoy these blogs about dyeing and fabrics as much as I do:

http://colourcottage.wordpress.com

http://whatzitknitz.wordpress.com/

http://wendiofthetreasure.com

~

Now that I have my reference library underway, I am gathering ideas about what I will need to begin my project.  My next post will show you some of the items I will be using.

~

Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

February 14, 2014 at 7:22 am

%d bloggers like this: