poetry and prose about place

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.



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!



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



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 …



detail of the machine embroidery on my cotton shirt


Copyright  2014   Jane Tims  

Written by jane tims

February 21, 2014 at 7:49 am

10 Responses

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  1. I’m intrigued! I hope the finished product is one you can wear!


    Top Of The Slush Pile

    February 21, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    • Hi. I was thinking about that this morning. I have never been a fashionista, so I can hear the comments now! However, I intend to be seen regularly in my lovely pink and maroon blouse with the smell of apple cider wafting about! Jane


      jane tims

      February 22, 2014 at 11:22 am

      • I have just had a thought …. I will be able to wear it at my poetry reading! Jane


        jane tims

        February 22, 2014 at 11:23 am

  2. Wow! I’d love to try this myself. But, I shall wait eagerly for your results. Good luck!



    February 21, 2014 at 11:48 am

    • Hi. If it works out, I’ll be reporting, for better or worse. Then you can stuff some of your weeds in a jar and see what you come up with!!! Jane


      jane tims

      February 22, 2014 at 11:19 am

      • Awesome, thanks!



        February 24, 2014 at 2:19 am

  3. Time and patience, I can just imagine… My sister and I tried tie dying tee shirts in the 70s, and then she went on to master the art of batiking, creating beautiful pieces with wax and dye.. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the patience (or the talent) to follow her lead. I’m looking forward to seeing what you will create and I hope I never hear of a smelly house for sale in rural New Brunswick! 🙂


    Barbara Rodgers

    February 21, 2014 at 10:18 am

    • Hi Barbara. Batik sounds wonderful. I am very attracted to the fabrics I see in the stores. I’d like to do a batik quilt sometimes. As for the smelly house, so far, so good. Jane


      jane tims

      February 22, 2014 at 11:18 am

  4. Happy Birthday today and good luck with the experiment.


    Carol Steel

    February 21, 2014 at 9:15 am

    • Hi. Thanks! Experiment is a good word for it but I have a few poems in draft. They are not as easy as ‘picking berries’ poems for sure. Jane


      jane tims

      February 22, 2014 at 11:16 am

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