Blooms, Books and Bylines

Gardening season is finally upon us here in the Frozen North, still only barely unfrozen

I am spending most of my daylight hours sorting my new garden and contemplating my options for a redesign that features native plants suitable for eco dyeing and printing. I am actively researching so more plant info will be coming soon!

Meantime, here is what I have been up to since last blog entry: eco printing in the microwave, book binding, writing articles for magazines and painting. And a little Studio Dec.

I have installed a new feature in my new, pared-down studio space: artworks display shelving made from a recycled kitchen cupboard. So instead of hiding my artworks under the bed, I can place them where I see them each time I enter the studio. I will try to change the display monthly.


The box and the book (top right) are by my Shlomo who also belongs to CBBAG, the Canadian Book Artists and Book Binders Guild. He also printed the maple leaf which I cut out, holes and all. The little blue HotWheels was snuck in by Dylan, our grandson for he considers no surface well dressed unless HotWheeled (or Lego'd). Completing the vignette is a dish of vintage glass African trade beads beside an Indian printing block from Rajastan where Hannah (the Bride of two years ago) was on a work assigment earlier this year. The rest are my efforts in various media, both current and older.

For example, on display (middle shelf) is my first eco print of this season. For this first print. I tried a method other than long steaming in a pot on the stove. For plant colour, I used Icicle Pansies from pots in the garden and red geraniums from pots in the house. I deadheaded the plants, rinsed the blooms, put them (wet) between sheets of watercolour paper, zapped the package in the micro for ten seconds inside a plastic bag (the watercolour paper was first quickly dipped in alum acetate water), then I pressed the little stack overnight under weights. BTW, see my Reference page for info about eco dyeing in the microwave, in particular, in an article by Karen Leigh Casselman, teacher to India Flint, and Canadian Diva of Dyes.

A wonderful range of blues and greens appeared from the pansies with deep magenta and rich lilac from the bright red geraniums (pelargoniums):



These colours recall the blue iris prints I made last June. Note how a face colour (e.g. blue) present in the plant can separate into constituent colours as a result of the eco print process.


This purple from the pelargonium is abundant and compelling even without the other colours leaking through from the pansies:


The eco printed work below was done last summer, 2013. Coreopsis verticillata- and sumac-printed papers were used to cover a box made for a box exchange at our last CBBAG meeting. I enjoyed making the closures! Linen thread, crocheted to make a loop, and printed watercolour paper, rolled, to make a bead.







Bookbinding workshops again this spring! The April workshop was about Secret Belgian binding. We used the papers our instructor provided – some were lovely, handmarbled sheets. Yellow is so Spring!





Finally for this post are three references to articles I have written since January about eco printing and Artist Books.

You can read my article about eco printing with native plants in the winter issue of the Turkey Red Journal, another article on more or less the same topic in The Journal For Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (U.K.) in the summer 2014 issue, and a third article (on Artists' Books) in the summer issue of Fiber Art Now magazine (U.S.) (See below for the web links). The Turkey Red Journal is free for readers and available online. The other two are paper publications and are on sale as subscriptions and/or on newstands. Fiber Art Now pays a modest stipend for articles published while the other two magazines rely on volunteers.

And here is a little painting distraction that I permitted myself this winter. I glued watercolour papers to the inside covers of the binder that houses copies of articles I have written for various publications. I then painted the papers with my personal logo, a figleaf. (The Bible refers to Adam and Eve sewing clothes for themselves out of figleaves when they lost Paradise. Threadwork and plants are thus mythically and perhaps spiritually connected)

Inside front cover:

Inside back cover:


Article references:


Until next time! I will report on the CBBAG show of Artist Books at the City of Ottawa Archives (April, May and June) Several of my Artist Books are in the show, including those made in Italy at the Arte Studio Ginestrelle residency last October.



18 thoughts on “Blooms, Books and Bylines

  1. A lovely set of bound books sitting on shelf is indeed a joy to see. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful insights and creativity.

  2. Alas, Julie! I cannot tell a lie. I did not marble those papers. Our instructor provided the papers which came without names of the artists whom had made them. Which is too bad because they are worthy of signature. For sure marbling is on my list of things to try this year.

  3. That box is fabulous! You’ve inspirered me to buy and sow seeds of Coreopsis verticillata this year, seeing so many lovely prints you’ve made with them 🙂

    1. Delight awaits you, Ms Indigo Carole!

      The pansies give great colour limp, dried, fresh or frozen. Iris, the same though they seem not to dry but rather to go to mush that drips blue. The coreopsis is a native North American that adapts well to UK gardens, I hear. It was a First Nations dye plant. And the the Weave Spin Dye mag is high quality stuff.


  4. All of your work is stunning, Wendy! And I loved your article in the Turkey Red Journal. I’ll be looking for the UK Journal in my weaver’s guild library too when it comes out.

    I’ve been looking for Coreopsis verticillata here in Vancouver but haven’t had any luck yet. All I could find is the “Moonbeam” variety which isn’t very hardy so I passed. Of course I always grow C tinctoria every year and I did start some C grandiflora but only got one seedling to come up. I haven’t given up yet though!

  5. Amazing the Coreopsis verticillata is not hardy in Vancouver, Louisa! I imagine it might better in a drier, well-drained situation than the lush gardens of Vancouver might offer more of than Ottawa. The rain may be the issue, not the temperature. It grows rather grassy-like, in separate stalks, not a root-massm, so you can pull the stalks apart at the root area. It did very well in my old garden up against and between rock edgings at the front of the borders. Why not try the “Moonbeam” in a pot with some pebbles around the stalk, and where you can let her dry out a bit and not bury her roots?

  6. Wendy thank you so much for being so generous with your sharing of process and dye plants. You are by far my most valued natural/Eco dye artist. I can’t wait for the day that you write a book or give a workshop that. I can attend. Thank you for your article in Turkey Red too. I have read it many times already. blessings to you and your garden this summer, and again, my heartfelt thanks.

  7. Thank you, Morgen! I wish you more learning joys this summer as you journey along with other dyers! It is a perfect way to work with art and nature


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