cheering color

One of the few things still blooming in the garden are the marigolds, which I do love.  Something about their peculiar scent, but also the color.  I am not a yellow person per se, though all of my preferred colors are yellow-based and yellow is the first toner color to run out on my printer…

But this morning I began ruthlessly harvesting all the bright yellow blooms as I am going to try natural dyeing once again.  I have been using a few more dye processes in my weaving lately, and had thought it would be nice to use natural dyes from my land rather than acid dyes from a bottle.  What tipped the scales for me was Dominique Cardon‘s lecture last week at the Textile Society of America conference.  Her talk was titled Natural Dyes: Our Global Heritage of Colors (she gave a site seminar and a natural dye workshop as well, neither of which I was able to attend) and she spoke compellingly of the role of natural dyes both as traditional pollutants and as a way to bring textiles in to a new greener industrial process.   Of course just because a dye is plant based, does not mean it is safe to ingest; the effluent from dyeing has long been a serious environmental problem, largely because of the metal salts used as mordants.  As industry looks toward reinvesting in the old technologies and finds mordants that are safer (alum, for one that I know about) the question also comes out about overuse of plant materials– for example, brazilwood which is now very scarce.  The answer has been to example industrial processes involving agricultural products and lumber by products to find new dyestuffs that  are actually by products of other industries.  All fascinating.

So I have denuded the plants of their brilliant plumage — they may yet bloom once more after this heavy deadheading — and now am spreading the blossoms out to dry on a screen in the warm October sunshine.  I would much prefer to throw them in a pot and boil them up now — I like this process as it is another form of cooking, after all — but I have a heavy workload in the studio right now that can’t be derailed by a new investigation.  So I hope that the yellow from dried blossoms will be as good as from fresh.