Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Public Gardens, Summer Shadows, Dye Experiments

A visit to Volunteer Park, a beautiful Frederick Law Olmsted park yesterday, in late summer, had me noticing the beauty we don't usually consider -- textures, and the way shadows flow over them.  These  make inspiration for dye works.

More on this glorious public park later, but just a short sentence to tell you it reminds me of the great gardens of Beijing, and offers much that they do, and it features the Seattle Asian Arts Museum, also a beautiful conservatory now in its 100th year.

The views there are exquisite, near in minute detail, farther and through lacy branches of a rare blue sky.  It is restorative to walk slowly and contemplate, to have a good long think about what is beautiful and necessary.

Here are some of the results of my puttering with natural dyes, showing soft hues of alkanet, madder, walnut and osage orange.

The yellow is osage, the blues and lavenders are alkanet, the pink is madder, the tan is black walnut bark.

The center swatch here was great fun -- it started with a compost dye of pansy blossoms over a walnut base, which gave me enticing splotches of greens, yellows, surprising reds, purples and blues.  They would have been much more obvious if I could have waited longer (1 week only -- longer would have been much brighter).  I then covered the swatch with a paste resist, crackled it and painted over with India ink.  What fun -- and in the sticky, hot days of late summer, dye work and splashing water seems just right.

You can make a paste resist of equal parts water and flour, spread it on the cloth and let it dry completely, then crackle it to let the next color seep through.  Next time I'll make a paste dye with gum tragacanth and walnut.  I think the ink was a bit too heavy and it obscured those subtle pansy blotches.

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