Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Floral mark making

I have an ongoing project to see what dyed colour I can get out of my garden. I have shown dyed wool before with forsythia, chives, and I forget what else. Last summer I planted woad to get blue, but it didn't take. It is growing this summer, so blue is in our future.
Three years ago, I started squishing flowers and leaves between folds of fabric. The first year I had some lobelia and small pansies. There were also a few rose leaves on the ground at the neighbours. I placed them between some unbleached muslin cotton and used a marble rolling pin on a hard surface. 
At the time, a lot of people were, and still are, wrapping fabric around earthen elements. Mud, bark, leaves, rusting things, and stones are popular. Not having anything to hand except oak leaves and a smattering of flowers in the garden, I thought I'd try seeing what dye stuffs came out of squished plant life. Also, having no patience for the time it takes for fabric to take on the stains from wrapping and waiting, squishing seemed to suit my personality better.
I didn't have this brainstorm until the end of the summer, so I had missed most of my floral opportunities.
2nd year with rose petals and lobelia stems.
The second year I managed to remember a few times and added a beige and white cotton to the experiment and a pure white cotton.
2nd year with cut up rose petals, lobelia stems and this years cherry flowers just squished.
This spring, actually last week, I took all three fabrics out and cut some blooms from the forsythia, the flowering crab and two dying yellow tulips. I had a Lady's mantle leaf and some accidental grass strands.
2nd year with this year's forsythia blossoms and its leaves
I have tried to keep a vague colour scheme on each background; purples and red, purples and yellow and yellows.
The addition of the grass bits, scattered by holding the grass about 10" above the fabric and snapping them out from between my fingers led to some lovely marks.
I am very happy with the green bits.
Once everything was squished, I was struck by how lovely they turned out. I expected I'd be squishing all summer, but I think each fabric is done as far as this step is concerned. 

Forsythia, lobelia, something purple from last year and grass.
beige-ish background with lobelia, grass, roses from last year and pansies.

I particularly like the lobelia, cherry flower and grass combination.
I iron the cloths with a very hot iron. They all need damp stretching to get the fold lines out. I have pulled out some more white and muslin and am going to see what else I can squish this summer. I missed roses last summer, and I'd like to see if I can get hold of a variety of dahlia petals. I wonder if I can sneak some from the Public Gardens Dahlia display? I might have to creep in after midnight. I could rent a Cat Woman outfit and buy that thing-a-ma-bob for seeing in the dark. The things we do for our art.

I am happy to get any ideas you may have on how to approach stitching these cloths. 


  1. I love so much that you ''squish''!! Beautiful results....

  2. I love so much that you ''squish''!! Beautiful results....

  3. i have done lots of dyeing with flowers and leaves. my experience has been that a lot of the color washes out so if you are planning on damp stretching or making an item that will be laundered, it would be best to rinse the fabric first until no color runs. it is so pretty as is.

  4. the fabric is just gorgeous and I think would make a beautiful piece....will you add doodling to this along with embroidery or just a bit of embroidery? Either way you go it will be beautiful.

  5. I haven't any strong plans yet, but definitely some stitching.