About Blog Title...

As a child, it was one of my greatest delights to visit my grandparents in the spring when the whip-poor-wills began to call. Grandma and Grandpa lived in a remote valley of the Ozark Mountains where there were trees a plenty, and, seemingly, a whip-poor-will, or two, in each one.
My grandmother insisted that a whip-poor-will's call was not "whip-poor-will," but instead, "chip-butter-white-oak." I would listen really hard trying to hear it exactly as she said it was, but all I could hear was "whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will,..." But, I never let on to her.
I remember my grandpa watching and listening, with an amused look on his face, to one of these listening sessions. Shortly after that he began to call me, just for fun, "Chip Butter." It is a name I am proud to wear for I still love to hear that long, lonesome call on a warm summer's eve. And, sometimes, when I listen really, really hard, it seems I can hear quite clearly, "chip-butter-white-oak, chip-butter-white-oak..."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Plant Dyes...

What if zinnia blossoms from the garden (actually, these had been frozen for almost a year) were pressed onto pre-mordanted* cotton muslin, bound up tightly into a bundle, put into a pot containing black walnut dye, and cooked?

I think the photos above (untouched) taken of  this sample after it was pressed with a hot iron between layers of paper is quite beautiful, and colorful enough to cause even Georgia O'Keeffe to take a second look.

*Mordants or adjuncts are substances that act as a bridge, or bond, between the molecules of the fibre being dyed, and the substance that is being used to dye it.  Eco Colour ~ India Flint

Protein (animal) fibers, such as wool and silk, have a natural affinity for plant dyes because the molecules that make up proteins (and alkalis) have a positive bonding point available, whereas acids (in the plant dyes) have a negative.  Opposites attract, so when combined these are a match made in heaven and will form what is known as a 'polar bond.'

Although a stain from a plant dye can often be achieved on the surface of a cellulose-fibre textile (cotton, linen, etc.), it won't necessarily form a permanent bond with the cloth; like trying to push two magnet ends of like polarity together.  Therefore, to dye a cellulose fibre, a protein or an alkali (a mordant) of some sort must be present on the surface of the cloth for the plant dye to bond with.  Second Skin ~ India Flint


  1. This is very interesting. I imagine a person could spend years on fabrics, dying and all that goes into making fabric with color. Having the color to stay in the fabric is something I have tried just a little and only in the brown colors. The picture you showed with the bright colors is pretty. A big cloth dyed like you have would make a great wall hanging.

  2. I never thought of dying with zinnias, but why not?! I love dying things, from corn husks to goose eggs. I've used walnuts, false indigo and onion peels and of course, purchased dyes. Just this week I dyed sheeps wool and made felt with it. I think the muslin beneath, with the touches of blues from your salvia, will make a perfect outfit for one of your dolls

  3. I have done some natural dyeing in the past and would really like to go back to experimenting dyeing wool fabric with naturals.
    It would be great fun to have a garden just for dyeing!

  4. Mary, have you ever heard of "flower pounding"? The flower is laid on cloth and then pounded to transfer the color to the fabric. This was in one of my quilting magazines one time. I'll see if I can find it and tell you more. These prints are for your little books, aren't they? If so, having the color stay in the fabric wouldn't be a factor would it?

  5. All I know is that I will be very excited to see the results of your dyed fabric. I am sure you will make something unique and special.

  6. I'm always learn something from you. Stunning and beautiful colors.

  7. How interesting! So very pretty. I knew there were many natural materials to use for dyes and I would like to take a class to learn more.

  8. I am looking forward to seeing the results! I love playing with natural dyes!! The goldenrod and tansy are blooming here now :-)
    Many BLESSINGS and warmth, Linnie

  9. Now you're making me itch to mess with fiber arts. I can't do that--I have work to do--but one of these days! Love the art of those photos--yes, Georgia would have approved. :~)