Friday, 5 February 2010

A little blue?

I'm feeling a little blue today, knowing that I have to leave in the (early!) morning, to make that damned long journey to the city again. Another 8 hours on a stuffy coach. I'm thinking about what stitching to take along for the ride. I never like to have to leave my little home and the boys. This is a quick one. I hope to be back on Wednesday. We have guests booked all of next week!

I've been playing with the fruits of Conostegia subcrustulata (Melastomataceae) again. The last time I tried to solar dye with these, I used too few fruits and it just turned the small scrap of cloth a slightly tan color. So yesterday Nilo and I gathered more fruits for this small experiment. We have alot of these shrubs in the garden and the great thing is - assuming that this dye is ever going to work for me - that they fruit and flower constantly throughout the year. Discover more about this plant here

Thought you might like this image of buds and immature fruits of Conostegia subcrustulata and a visiting grasshopper. The image was taken by Reinaldo.

So... on with the show!

First I masked a small square of calico, leaving narrow spaces between each strip of tape.

Then I started to smush the berries with a wooden pestle directly onto the cloth.

Doesn't that look yummy! Actually, you can eat these berries, they're sweet and gritty because they have so many minute seeds (which you can see in the images).

This is how it looked when I had done that with all of the gaps.


A random berry smushing! Pour the berries onto the cloth, place a sheet of paper on top, and roll over it all with a rolling pin.

Hmmm... interesting! Love that vibrant blue where the light shines through. It reminds me of...

When I was a child I was fascinated by the color of the jars of Vick's Vapor Rub when held up to the light. It was the only bit of entertainment one got when sick. I have a love of Bristol Blue Glass, especially that which comes in the form of a bottle of Harveys Bristol Cream, which, sadly, I can no longer drink :( I went to the Bristol blue glass factory on a school trip once. It was very cool! My (other) home town is about 40 minutes drive from the city of Bristol.

Moving on...

Some very random strokes made with a paint brush, with concentrated berry smush juice,painted direct onto the cloth.

A close-up...

I especially like this section.

And here they all are, hanging out. I'm leaving them there... because, let's face it, it is never going to rain!

And here is a new solar dye experiement, this time using a much higher concentration of these fruits and a piece of rolled calico.

This morning it looks like this... I'm optimistic! I will leave it in the sun soaking for a week.

I had to put a rock on the top to hold the cloth under!

Coming soon!...

Reinaldo came back from the field with several of these yesterday... Genipa americana (Rubiaceae - that's the coffee family). But more about that later!

My posts seem to get longer and longer. Thanks for your attention span!


Jacky said...

What a stunning colour of blue!!! I am interested to see how the sun effects the colour. I am hoping it will stay as brilliant and vibrant as ever. Most envious you have these beautiful little berries at your disposal for dyeing all year lucky are you?
Enjoying your dyeing experiments.

Jacky xox

Red (aka Puddleduck!) said...

I too can't wait to see how the blue turns out! You have been busy...
I can't believe you have guests booked already!
I hope your trip goes well.

Catherine V. Bainbridge said...

Thanks both. I have a feeling that the sun will make this fade or at least get murky. Don't know how one might resolve that. I bet India Flint would! I would love to get her book.

We have guests throuout the year. January and February seeming the busiest. That said, most are students, so we don't make any money :) It's part of what we do, because we're actually botanists as well. These particular guests are a couple - an Entomologist and his ornotholgically-inclined wife - from the UK. This will be there second visit. They liked it so much the first time. They're great people.

Unknown said...

beautiful blue! Do you use something as a mordant to keep it from fading?

Catherine V. Bainbridge said...

No Karen, and that's the problem, right? I have a girlfriend in the states who is about to amil me some alum. This is Costa Rica! I can't even find any decent fabric printing inks! Any advice?

Sandra said...

OOOOOOOOOOOOOH what a beautiful blue!!!!!!!!! I love these blues, I think they're magnificent!I'm fond of blue.
It's great, experimenting, isn't it. Lot's of fun. I don't know what I'm going to do with the red cabbage fabric, I love the experiment, and later on I'll see what I will do with it. Think I'm in an experimenting fabric phase or something.
Since I have children I also don't like leaving home, always want to be back as soon as possible.
As for mordant.... I read somewhere that you could use urine...

Catherine V. Bainbridge said...

Hey Sandra, urine?... as a mordant? Well, I know that when I was studying Batik we used a chemical called Urea, and that helped to fix the (procion) dyes. But we were preparing the dyes with the urea as a solution, not preparing the cloth first. Anyway, it makes sense I guess. Luckily, urine is something that is readily available even in Costa Rica :)

Yes, I have kids too. One 7 year old and one nearly 20 year old. Both ends of the spectrum! My big boy is currently livng/studying just outside of Cardiff in Wales. I haven't seen him for nearly 2 years! Hopefully, he is visiting in April. YEAH! How old are yours?

Anonymous said...

the berry experiments are amazing... dont' worry about your posts being this long if they are full of images like these.

my boys are 13 and 15 and I can hardly stand the idea of them going away to college!

Bristol Blue Glass said...

This is a very interesting post.

What I really love about cobalt blue is the blacks that fade into the dark blue. That's what makes it so much more beautiful for me.
I love the organic way you have achieved this vibrant colour.

We use cobalt to colour our lead Crystal at our Bristol Blue Glass factory in Fishponds, Bristol. Yes, there are two companies in Bristol Making this beautiful colour in glass. From my stand point its great to see blue in something other than glass.

Thank you very much for sharing your work.

Francis Burroughes

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