Indigo blues et amaranth reds in August

A busy month so far! Art, gardens, travels, guests…

Brooklyn and Manhattan in late July, early August were HOT! Ottawa, too.

But refuge was close: The Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and in particular, the native plants garden, were ripe with goldenrod and black-eyed susan:


We were there In Brooklyn for these two beauties, giving the little mama a break and a bit of time for a nap – Mr. Zev is no sleeper! So a walk every day with the Grandies in the botanical garden was heaven for all concerned. Don't you love the tie Zev is wearing on top of his onesie? Smiles to light up your heart!


Earlier in the summer, we paid a visit to the grave of one of my dear friends at Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario. The beautiful chapel there is alive with icons, painted by a member of the community. I am making a little book in memory of Martha and her garden.


Not long after, West, our grandson's kitty stayed over for a few days. Here you see West taking his ease after his brave but fruitless night-long vigil at the mousehole in our kitchen floor. Dylan's mama found West (he was nine months old ) at the animal shelter and just had to take him home. West had arrived injured when about six weeks old, and most adopters were afraid to take him on – but not Dylan's mama. Looking pretty comfy, isn't he?


The August garden is full and lucious with colour still but, dear Reader, my “kaleyard” this year needs to be renamed the “amaranth yard”! This year, I planted the black 'Lacinato' kale in a pot along with what I thought were two dwarf red amaranth ( I got the seeds from a hippy seed seller and I forget the name of the variety) but which have turned out to be extremely ambitious and quite bumptious imposters, size-wise; they are reaching ever-skyward and thus dwarfing the usually-giant kale! OOOPs! And it is here to stay. The amaranth will self seed copiously around the whole neighbourhood- its tiny seed becomes windborne quite easily. I am growing it mainly for dye; even if it is not the famous Hopi red amaranth, it may yield some dye anyway…I did have a red amaranth (variety unkown) for many years in my other garden and it gave me a lasting pink.

Some other dye sources: this year, blue cornflower and yellow calendula. Monarda didyma “Cambridge Scarlet” , Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb' and 'Route 66', chartreuse smokebush and yellow black-eyed susan:





Studio time this month has been taken up with prep for the annual West End Studio Tour. Indigo and rust will be featuring large on the displays. This year, I will show rust, indigo and tannin monotypes on paper and cloth wall pieces: eco dyed and printed silk scarves, artist books and small art cards. A selection follows:

Rusted paper and cloth with indigo and tannins ( plants, too):

Indigo, rust and tannin on paper. One of six larger works.

Laying out the monotype print:


A stack of printed cloth and papers:

I made some cast paper dyed with indigo and painted with acrylics for my books:



Eco dyed scarves:


An older rusted linen work, embroidered and two-sided:

Some scarf prints:

Some eco prints on paper and cloth:

Off the country again tomorrow to meet up with the other grandchildren and to usher out August.

I am taking my wildfower books, my sewing kit and my hapazome hammers. Flower pounding! Kids LOVE it! Can you guess the plants Dylan and I pounded?




About wendyfe

I am a fibre artist working in mixed media textiles with a focus on vintage cloth reworked with stitching, natural dyeing, eco printing and rust printing . My work can be seen at
This entry was posted in Brooklyn, dye garden, eco prints on paper, handmade paper, hapazome, Indigo dyeing, kaleyard, NYC, Rust dyeing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Indigo blues et amaranth reds in August

  1. Ginny Huber says:

    Hello Wendy: Always a delight to see your late night exuberantly alive posts! What better than a collection of gorgeous photos that include a beautiful baby, a cat plants, prints and lots of enthusiasm and inspiration-from Brooklyn to the “kaleyard”. I planted some red Hopi Dy amaranth but didn’t get much-growing or dyeing..Lovely to see all your projects..

  2. What a wonderful collection of work, your garden seems to have settled in well. I am hoping to plant flowers specifically for dyeing with next year.

  3. Marion Rhyne says:

    Marion asks: I enjoy your work and am inspired by it. Perhaps some day you could show how to dye on home made paper.

    • wendyfe says:

      Thanks, Marion!
      Try this for indigo: One tablespoon on pre-reduced indigo in four cups of water. Dissolve the indigo; a metallic ‘crust’ will form on top of the water. This is good.
      You can dip your brush in this crustiness and/or the dye bath and paint your design. OR Dip your whole paper in the dye bath. Try dribbling with a turkey baster or painting with a brush. Try folding the paper to give shapes, then dip. Leave the paper in the bath a minute or two to get deeper colour by soaking
      Dip again for more colour. Rinse in water between dips to promote oxidation. Hang to dry. Dip or brush on again. OR make a paste with gum tragacanth and indigo and stamp on to paper. Anything you want!

  4. Margaret Marcy says:

    I am inspired by you work! Thank you for all wonderful pictures.
    I started eco printing a year ago and have started a fashion collection w/ ecoprinted silk dressed, my webiste is
    Do you do any workshops? I would love to meet you and increase my knowledge in eco printing.

  5. Those rust dyeing photos are lovely, have recently been experimenting with rust dyeing and mine didn’t come out nearly as beautiful as yours, what rusty objects are you using? I want to know what i am missing and how i can improve. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Rust is the start of the project i am doing for my final year of fashion design and your work is a real inspiration. đŸ™‚

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