so proper dyeing then, using tara powder and alum premordanting on two previously home-dyed shirts, a vest and two virgin pieces of fabric: an oblong strip of cotton and a lacey handkerchief; all have been pre-mordanted as per instrucions found on the internet; my dyeing expeditions are becoming ever more knowledgable, although they remain rather haphazard at the best of times. To my amazement (and annoyment) I find contradictory advice on the use of the tara powder, one source whilst describing the possibilities of the powder also informs me she doesn't like to use it herself. I stick to what I am able to comprehend and end up using the following recipe:

from the Fibre Garden

Tara Powder. This is the ground seed pods* of the tropical plant Caesalpinia spinosa which are naturally high in tannins, up to 50% by dry weight. It's used as a mordant and also to make the "logwood black" dye colour.
Traditionally used mainly on cellulose fibres, as part of a premordant in combination with alum.
TO USE: weight out 15% to weight of fibre EACH of Tara powder and alum. Dissolve alum in hot water and add with water to mordant pot. Add fibre and simmer at 180-200°F for 1 hour. Remove fibre, rinse and spin out excess water. In another pot of water, add the Tara powder (put it into a nylon stocking) and simmer at 180-200°F for one hour: this can be done while the alum pot is simmering. Remove stocking, and place the fibre in the Tara solution then simmer for an hour.** Let cool, then remove fibre, spin out then wash and rinse. Fibre is now ready for dyeing and may be used fresh or dried for later.
Both spent mordant solutions may be safely disposed of down the drain (except for septic systems), or poured around garden plants that prefer acidic soil conditions.  ha I like this very much, sounds kind of perma-culturistic, not wasting what I have, although I would be introducing an alien element to the garden. As we have so much clay I'm guessing it is basically alkaline and could do with a bit of acidity.

*reading this I ask self why I didn't do more research before I went and ordered the Tara powder which has come all the way from Peru! as I think I could also have used locally sourced acorns, rich in tannin as well (is it equally high in tannins though??) grinding them and thus making my own tannin-rich solution 
** I did not simmer the tara pot on the stove, thought that too wasteful, just left it on the deck in the sun, warm enough I felt
 the woad seedlings have sprouted and grown so fast, within a week the surface has become green and I realise I must do something about them soon, as the actual plants will be huge and the pot will be overcrowded. So I have courageously moved half the seedlings into tiny pots that can be planted straight into the earth, once I'm satisfied they are strong enough to cope with snails and other garden wildlife.

as we have been enjoying some very hot and humid weather, resulting in sweaty, smelly bodies as we go about our gardening activities and whilst we could go swimming in the river which is within easy walking distance, a cool-down in our own back-yard would be most agreeable and on a whim I decided what we needed was an outdoor shower, and so it happened. 

 I absolutly adore how the handkerchief turned out, I'm not usually a lace lover, but the lightness of the piece delights me, I have nothing to add except a fitting frame; I have placed it between two perfectly sized glass panes and wil ask friend W. to make a narrow frame, much like a leaded glass window.

the other strip has some beautiful imprints, I see three dogs, one looking straight at us, the larger black one looking to our right and a tail with the rest of the dog 'hidden'
Perhaps you see even more; below the reverse, I prefer top version as the dogs are more doglike to me. The vest is still hanging out to dry. Both shirts are undergoing more dye dips....


i LOVE everything here...the lace...which i don't much like either, but
THIS way....yes! and the woad
the SHOWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All....I WISH i could come over and walk around.....
Saskia said…
oh my, that would be GRAND!

in the interest of full disclosure: I am at home suffering (yes suffering and not in the office working) from menstrual cramps like never 53 and having skipped several menses I had hoped they would by now be a thing of the past
Debbie said…
Lovely colour in the top in the bottom photo and that is a lovely piece of lace. I don't use mordants so most of my dyeing will probably fade over time. I sometimes put bark and oak leaves in the mix for adding tannin, you can also use rhubarb leaves, bearing in mind that they poisonous, but I haven't tried that yet myself.

sorry to hear you suffering the menopause can be a real bitch.
Mo Crow said…
Wwhat a beatiful pe
ce of needle lace, it looks hand stitched?
Mo Crow said…
oops Ariel just walked across the keyboard, that should read piece of lace!
Saskia said…
thanks Debbie, I have no idea if the pre-mordanting will prevent fading....I don't mind the fading, I'm more interested in getting good colours to begin with!! I still have so much to learn, need to get in tough with locals who are in-the-know.

Haha, active cat!
I haven't a clue whether the lace is handstitched or not Mo, how can I tell?? I am guessing it's all cotton as the dye took.
Judy Martin said…
Good luck with your woad seedlings.

I have madder and japanese indigo seedlings coming up in two separate large containers - I am thinking of just leaving them there until they really do get strong.

Be well xo
Saskia said…
they are such tender things, after my first disastrous year here (due to complete ignorance) I have always been wary of planting them 'out there'

am doing much better thx
Mo Crow said…
Hi Saskia, the way to tell if lace is hand rather than machine stitched is in the feel of the knots, in hand stitched work the knots add an irregularity to the texture



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