Friday, May 25, 2012

Playing with Natural Dyes



I have to admit, I've always been fascinated by the old ways of doing things...spinning, weaving, milk paint, decorating with natural elements, making bread, you get the idea.  I certainly appreciate the fact that I live in the modern world where I can get what I need when I need it with a minimum amount of effort on my part because I'm lazy like that, but I do think it is a shame that our society has lost so much in the way of knowledge of how to do things simply and without a plethora of resources.  We've lost a lot of self-reliance; I venture a guess that most people, finding themselves faced with a major catastrophe, would be hard pressed to feed themselves, much less adorn themselves and make their environment pretty (WHAT?  No Home Goods?  NOOOOOOOO!!!!!).  OK, I suppose in the wake of catastrophe, we might not be worrying about prettying things up, but once the dust settled, you know you'd want to.  Don't misunderstand me, I think about stuff a lot.  THINK.  Usually, that's as far as it goes.  Then, after I think my deep thoughts about sustainability and self-reliance, I hop on the internet, place my order with Dominoes, pour a glass of wine, and wait for someone to bring me food.  The closest I've gotten to growing my own food was to ask my husband (who does actually grow veggies and stuff) to bring in some arugala for the salad. You do know that if you make a salad to go with the delivered pizza, it becomes a healthy nutritious well-balanced meal-just sayin'.  But I digress...

Back to the topic of natural dyes: Mr. FL, in addition to veggies grows lots of beautiful flowers, among them, rather stunning Bearded Iris.  I'd seen on Pinterest a while back a pin about using avocado skins to dye with, supposedly turning fabric and lace a light pink,  and so we'd been having a discussion about that when he says, "I wonder if you could dye with these?"  He handed me a bunch of spent Iris blooms from one of our really dark purple plants.  I decided we should find out right then and there. I gathered up a variety of cotton and linen laces, a doily, and a piece of torn natural muslin and dyed them. Instructions can be found further down the post. I was overjoyed at the results. The color is a bit more accurate on the first two photos, but as you can see, it turned out a very nice lavender purple.  The content of the fabric you are dying affects how the pieces take the dye, just like with any other dye, so you can get lots of variation from piece to piece even if you dye everything at the same time. Makes it rather interesting I think. Is it color-fast?  I don't know.  The water ran clear pretty quick after I took them out of the dye pot and rinsed them, but since I plan on using these things for art journals and things that won't be washed, I've not taken that next step in the research.  Perhaps another day for that, oui? 


There are several books out that discuss all of the myriad of plant materials (and even bugs) that have been used for centuries to dye fiber.  I don't have one, but perhaps I should add one to my library-like I need one more "thing" to get into...sigh.  Many plant materials make a very different color to dye with than they actually are.  Like the avocado skins (more on that later in the post).

Anyway, this is a crappy picture of the Iris I used.  It is called Superstition.  If you've ever grown Iris, you know that the petals are very wet so I had an inkling that the juice from them might make a good dye having had spent heads land on  my white counter and make a nice deep stain.  The flowers are much lovelier than my photo, but you get the idea.


Here's what my hand looked like when I went out to the garden and removed additional spent heads from the plant.  Kind of like blueberry stains.  You can see the spent heads underneath-not so pretty.


There's probably loads of versions of how to dye with natural materials available, but this is what I did.

I used 6 or 8 flowers heads.  I pulled out a stainless steel pot, added some water-maybe 2 cups-ish, and about a half a cup of white vinegar and boiled it.  I then added the Iris blossoms after cutting the green stem pieces off, and boiled them for about a half an hour.  I strained the blooms out and returned the liquid to the pot. Then, I put in my WET laces and fabric and simmered them in the pot for about 30 minutes. If you want less color, do less time, more color, do more time. It will dry a little lighter than the way it looks when you first pull it out of the pot, but not too much. Rinse it in cold water until the water runs clear and then hang or lay out to dry.  It will retain a slight vinegary smell which will dissipate, but if you want to take it to the next level and try washing it, that will of course, go away. Make sure you wash it by itself just in case the color "goes away" too-you wouldn't want to send your hubs off to work in a purple tie dyed dress shirt, right?   After my fabrics dried, I ironed them since a lot of things can be "heat set" by using the higher settings on the iron.  Not sure if this was necessary, but I did it anyway.  The above process obviously didn't yield a bunch of dye, but since I was just experimenting, I didn't need a lot.

After having the success with the Iris blooms, I decided to pull out those avocado skins I'd been saving in the freezer and do the same thing with them.  In my case, I found that simmering the fabric for 30 minutes produced a very pale tan color, not too exciting.  I returned them to the simmering pot, got it boiling for just a bit, then covered the pot with a lid and turned the heat off.  I left them in the pot all day and was very pleased with the results-definitely a pinkish cast to them, not quite as pink as the pins I'd seen, but very pleasing. Who'd a thunk it? Dark green avocado skins dye stuff pinky tan.  Like I said before, some things are kind of weird and interesting like that.




I had to go to my real job after shooting the above photos, but check back tomorrow for an update to this post to see what happened when I threw the spent petals from these vibrant roses in my little dye pot...I was quite pleased...If you should want to try this, do use a stainless steel pot so nothing leaches in to or out of the pot and if you are really going to get into the dying process, you should probably go to a thrift store and purchase a designated dye pot that you don't use for your food.

I should take an additional moment to mention my friend Debra over at Common Ground.  She featured me and my little blog today on her Vintage Inspiration Friday post and I was just gobsmacked!  What a sweetheart she is and I was just on cloud 9 all day after reading it.  Do stop over and visit her and her wonderful linky party which she faithfully hosts every week in addition to a great Monday Marketplace linky party where you can showcase your wares from your personal Etsy shops, websites, etc.  It is truly a wonderful group of participants each and every week for both of those parties.  Then, there's Debra's great style in her own home which she blogs about and I drool over...  Thank you, Debra for supporting me with your kind words and friendship over the last few years.  Love ya girl!



As promised, here is how my vat of rose petals dyed the laces and a little scrap piece of cream colored silk...


I was very happy with the results.  I really didn't have high hopes, but it turned out very nifty.


Since you were kind enough to hang in there this long, I will leave you with some of my favorite old roses from our garden.  Enjoy your long weekend!




Until next time,


Linking up with:
Time Travel Thursday
Creative Things Thursday
Vintage Inspiration Friday
Feathered Nest Friday
Shabbylicious Friday
Simple and Sweet Friday 
Pink Saturday

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

This Week's Tresors and a Couple of Quick Projects


Gee, I feel like I've not been doing much but show and tell of my shopping pursuits lately.  While that may be true, I do want to show you what I found last weekend.  The photo above shows the sugar dish of the sugar and creamer I found.  It is so pretty and would you believe I found it at a yard sale?  For $1 for both pieces?  I didn't need it, but how could I refuse?  I rarely find anything like that for that kind of price.  I fell in love with those roses~ YUM!


The other pieces I got at a new European market that they are trying to get started here in my town.  It was cool and I found a few goodies.


How cool is this doorknob?  Yes, Michelle, I will be making an inspiration holder with it. 


I simply cannot seem to resist pretty vintage millinery pieces...


or pretty lace.


Isn't this just the sweetest little pincushion?


J'adore the pretty pins that will be added to my "stash" for when I begin rocking the jewelry maker thing.  Whenever that might be... My girlfriend had the two pins on the cards in her booth.  Isn't it cute how she dolled up the cards they are on?


I was utterly enchanted by this little shelf and she's already gotten a makeover with my first attempt at Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint.  I'll show you that later.


An exquisite antique silk glove box. 


A set of Victorian curtain rods.  I'm going to try to put them in my studio.  If they don't work, they may end up in my Etsy shop. I've always wanted some of these and the chippy white with the gold peeking through just called my name.

I was really in love with that little shelf, so I couldn't wait to do it up the way I wanted it with the ASCP sample pots I bought.  You'd think that with all of the hype online about the chalk paint that I would have known exactly what to do, but as usual, I just kind of did my own thing and flew by the seat of my pants.  All in all, I like the way it turned out.  I hadn't planned on it being quite so distressed looking, but obviously, that's what spoke to me because that is how I did it!  Here is before once again...


And here is after...


I just love all the little details of this shelf, don't you?  I find it's form very pleasing to my eyes.


I did another mini-redo this week.  I'm not sure it is really blogworthy, but I will show you anyway.  I have these old sconces in my bathroom which I love.  I added the little shades many years ago and spruced them up with the green trim.

The shades had started to yellow and were looking a little shabby, not so chic, so when I saw this awesome button trim at Hobby Lobby, I knew what I wanted to do.  Honestly, had some new white linen shades just fallen into my lap, I probably would have purchased them and started fresh, but I wasn't much in the mood for hunting for these little guys, so I got out my trusty craft paint in a soft white and some additive that you use to make craft paint fluid enough to paint on fabric.  Delta makes it I think, and it is quite handy to have on hand.  I painted the shades so they were once again white, left the green trim where it was because I still like it, and glued on the new trim to the underside of the shade.  It adds a touch of whimsy so I'm happy. 



 It still looks like it could maybe use a little something else, but since these are the primary source of light on either side of the sink, I decided to leave well enough alone, at least for now.  I didn't want to interfere with their light casting abilities.  Maybe a tone on tone all over stencil would work?  For today, I'm calling it good enough.  It probably isn't my most exciting project, but it is done, which is more than I can say for most of the ideas that have been rattling around in my head but haven't yet been tackled.

Hope you all have a good weekend tackling some of your own spring projects.

Until next time,


Linking up with:
Vintage Inspiration Friday
Time Travel Thursday

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Looking forward to the weekend


Just a quick post after a super fast photo session with my pretty little flowers from the garden this afternoon.  I love pansies and lily of the valley and, of course, old bottles are always a favorite.   Hope you all have a great weekend and I'll see you next week!


Until next time,

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May Showers Also Bring May Flowers...


Hello Bloggie Friends,

Not much to talk about this week.  I just spent a little time playing around with the camera as I clipped some blooms from our snowball bush.  I just love it when it blooms.  The Lily of the Valley is blooming too!  I need to snap some photos of it also-unfortunately, they don't last very long but the fragrance is so pretty, it makes me happy just to go out in the backyard. 


Some of the blooms fell off as I was handling the stems and I thought they were kind of neat, so I played around with them, arranging them on a couple of my favorite books. 



OK, here is the obligatory spring flower bouquet in the aqua Mason jar.  I know it's been done a zillion times, but I haven't done it before now, so bear with me.



 So, I also played around in the photo editing programs the other day and made a new blog header.  I love my old one, but I thought it might be fun to change it up a little for a while.  What do you think? 

Until next time,



Linking up with:
White Wednesday
Knick of Time Tuesday
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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Treasures from the Junkin' Junket


Hello Friends,

As promised, I have some pictures of some of the pretties I found while out "junkin".  OK, I wish I could say I got these at junk prices, but truthfully, most everything is from antique malls and shows, so no real bargains to be had, but it is fun stuff anyway.

These old Victorian picture albums always intrigue me, but they are usually in rough shape.  Not this beauty though.  The cover is perfect save a little wear on the corners.  And it is such a pretty design. The fabric is velvet and the picture in the center is on celluloid.  I don't know for sure how I want to use it, but I'll let you know if and when something brilliant comes to me.


The clasps are usually broken, but this one is in perfect shape and is so pretty, don't you think?


These little bobbins just intrigued me with their color and their obvious connection to sewing.  I grew up doing needlework with my mom and she always sewed all of our clothes and hers as well.  Every seam was perfect, every pattern lined up exactly.  My mom was an amazing seamstress, so anything  sewing related always kind of draws me in.


This bottle is very cool.  It is an old toilet water bottle.  It still has it's top although I think part of it may be missing.


The best part is it is from Paris.  Very cool, oui?


The little cafe au lait bowl was an Etsy find that arrived from France this week.  It is OLD and soooooo pretty with its little purple flowers.  It looks great on the French booklet I found at an antique mall.


These nifty pieces of celluloid are headed to my art stash.  They are Japanese and I am guessing they are maybe from a factory that never finished making them into their final product?  I've only seen this type of work in vintage jewelry, like pendants and bangles.


This is a bangle that I have in my own jewelry box that is made from this type of 3 dimensional celluloid.  It is so romantic and lovely.  I only wear it now and again for fear I will break it, but I love it anyway.


I found these little tiny cups at the thrift store.  They are very old English paste porcelain.  I can't tell you how to distinguish this type of porcelain, I can only tell you that once you get a feel for how it looks and feels, you will be able to recognize it too.  A lot of the old transferware pieces that I love were made this way.


After my lace organizing task, you'd think I'd have realized I have enough old lace, but I just can't resist it when I see it for a reasonable price.  Same with vintage millinery flowers.  I don't care if they're shabby, they will look great on an art journal or on something else.  Love the little appliques, pincushion, and glass buttons, too.


OK, as popular as religious items are now, thanks to the Jeanne d'Arc French Nordic phenomenon, how cool is it that I found an original 100 year old Madonna plaque???  The plaque is made with some type of plaster and the image almost looks like it is printed on metal.  It has a date of 1902 on it.  I'm thinking of replicating this one of these days.  I'll let you know if I have some luck with it.


And while we're on the subject of the Virgin Mary, look who whispered in my ear that she would very much like to live at my home?


She is chalkware, so she's chippy and her paint colors are muted, and she basically stole my heart.  I may sell her one day, but not today.  For now, she will bring peace and tranquility to my abode.


This tiny cast iron urn turned my head.  I think it may have a future in a vignette under a cloche; what do you think?


So, that is the majority of my tresors acquired over the last couple of weeks.  There are a few more, but this post is long enough as it is, so maybe another time.  Hope you all are finding your own treasures and inspiration as well as enjoying the beautiful spring weather.  Do tell, what's inspiring you today?

Until next time,

Linking up with:
What's It Wednesday
Vintage Inspiration Friday
Feathered Nest Friday
French Obsession Party
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