I’d been thinking about using plants from my environment to dye fabrics. Literally a few days later, this large dyer’s polypore was there, steps from my door, a gift from the woods. It was a sign! As a mushroom gatherer, I’m fascinated by theses intense little plants that I find scattered in the woods. I’d read that one could get a range of colours from them I’m resolved to learn more. My first excursion into natural dyes was with turmeric root.
Dyer’s polypore is a shelf fungus that feels velvety to the touch. It’s often found growing on a root near the base of evergreens. This one’s a beauty. It was a bit of pity to cut it, but it will be transmuted to make more beauty, so it seems a fair exchange. Depending on the mordant added, it can yield from creamy yellow through olive and khaki.
After slicing it up and simmering it in water for several hours, I left it to soak for several days. I washed Dorr wool, silk and some beige linen that had been soaked in a solution of alum as a mordant to hold the colour. I set the simmered the dye pot on the stove, along with the fabrics for a couple of hours. A range of really lovely soft buttery yellows emerged. It tuns out dyer’s polypore is a good mordant in itself. So once the dye was spent, I stewed up the remains with some sumac leaves to make a pot of mordant for more linen wool and silk. Here are some of the lovely yellows from this gift of the woods.
It is Sunday and everything is moist and soft in the drizzle and rain of the past few days. I wake early and sit in the stillness to stitch. Simple stitching is restful, contemplative. Later, I’m keen to walk in …Continue reading →
We’ve had a most glorious, golden autumn weather here that’s gone on and on. These photographs are of our daily walk along wooded paths and the Maggie-Maggie Brook. They were taken about a month ago, so there’s still quite a …Continue reading →
The stony spine of the river is exposed. The Maggie-Maggie is a torrent gushing through Mahone Bay in the spring and fall. In summer it is a lazy stream. But this is the worst drought since they started keeping records …Continue reading →
The San left their mark in these fascinating, vulnerable paintings. Priceless treasures, they are our earliest human art and speak of a cohesive culture connected to nature. Many of the paintings are fading due to lichens, weathering time and sometimes senseless vandalism. I found it profoundly moving.
Whalebone vertebrae, many hundreds of years old. I found this at Red Bay Labrador at the earliest known Basque Settlement in North America. the Basque hunted whale and returned to Spain with the oil. There are 9 holes drilled in the centre of the vertebrae, perhaps made by researchers looking at the DNA of the whale, I don’t know.
I photographed this detail from a piece of handwoven raffia cloth in a shop in South Africa. Decorated with beads and cowrie shells. Some of the squares are dyed with indigo. It has a kind of pom-pom edging.
Cabbage field, Second Peninsula, Nova Scotia. This farm at the very end of the Peninsula is a sweet spot. I took this photo many summers ago when I spotted this field of crinkly cabbages, so like crushed velvet.
Homo Naledi is the most ancient human species ever discovered in Africa. The scientific buzz from the discovery is shaking up our knowledge of the origins of humankind.What good fortune that we decided to visit this very area on our tour next year! On-site archaeologists will guide our field trip to a dig close to the Naledi discovery.
I often visit this pine tree grove on my daily walks. There is an open meadow in the middle and the still strength of tree verticals are so restful. The strong verticals are obvious, but my eye is drawn to the soft horizontal lines in the pine needles and moss.