July Greetings

Hello again to all my olde readers and to the many new readers who have surprised me by their interest in my take on eco dyeing and on other topics.

My absence from the blogosphere has been due to the death of my Beloved ( from cancer) in March 2016. I have just needed the intervening time to set my little barque aright, as you might expect.  (” O Lord, the ocean is so large and my boat is so small.” )

So here I am, dipping my oar in again, if I may extend the sailing metaphor. What I note in my absence is the huge interest in tutorials and in suggestions for plants that work for eco dyeing. I will be adding to these two subpages in due time. My blog and website are in need of an overhaul so the updates will happen as a we go along with that project.

My garden is an especial refuge and strength these days, as well as my chief source of plants for printing. Starting out in spring (so long coming ), the front garden looked the way I had been feeling for much of the year: the wrecked fence,  broken pathway and desolate flower beds…but a little evergreen here and there…

IMG_4374But soon my old dye friends began  showing up again:

Bloodroot: white blossoms, red dye from the root.

IMG_6346Then the serviceberry (amelanchier laevis) – -another native plant, like the bloodroot, and with printable leaves all season.

IMG_6398.JPGHurry along now to the blues of pansies and irises whose spent blooms, awaiting dye duty, are residing in the freezer: the frozen petals give even more juicy blues than when fresh ( a strategy shared by India Flint ).


BTW – I have a colour obsession with the blue-chartreuse combo as well as any blue-orange pairing: Ecco! Daylily with blue-painted garden loom; my Beloved’s woven pop-can art – a Jaffa orange; grandson Dylan’s flower vase; Shlomo’s wood garden sculpture with orange clay pots by the Sheddio door.


A lusher garden now in July, with eco-dye promises from bioregional plants monarda didyma ( scarlet Bee Balm, a hybrid via a native ), coreopsis ( red and orange), cotinus ( a range of surprise shades..) – and lots more.



And what have I been up to, art wise?

This is just a wee intro to my update on that topic for this post. Some bookmarks made for the Al Mutanabbi project and promoted at the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists’ Guild – members are dropping bookmarks around rhe community, guerrilla-style…Here are my bookmarks:


I have been doing experiments with indigo in a painting:


Took a bookbinding course with master binder Dan Mazza of London, Ontario: Dan’s models here, mine in the next post:


And last but most fun: a pair of Minnie Mouse shoes I was tempted by but resisted (Chicken? You are right)

and Dylan’s bear – how can you not smile?


More art (mine, Dylan’s and Shlomo’s) and dye plants next time.

Thank you for joining the blog, new readers. And thank you, old blog friends, for your interest. And above all for your many beautiful and consoling thoughts, messages and prayers this last year.



About wendyfe

I am an artist working in mixed media textiles and Artists' Books with a focus on vintage cloth reworked with stitching, natural dyeing, eco printing and rust printing . My work can be seen at www.wendyfeldberg.ca.
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71 Responses to July Greetings

  1. Margo Duke says:

    Oh Wendy I’m so sorry for you loss; I do understand that it takes time to heal.
    So happy that you are making your way back and doing what you enjoy. I do understand how soothing your gorgeous garden must be for your soul. Thank you for sharing your printing/dying experiences – I missed you!

    • wendyfe says:

      Thank you, Margo. Indeed, making the choice to do creative work is healing,even if not always easy to carry out. One step at a time, one decision at a time

  2. Louisa says:

    Sorry to hear of your sad loss, Wendy. Your garden is lovely though and I’m happy to see you posting again.

  3. Laila Alice Nielsen says:

    Nice to hear from you again. Thank you. And thank you for the lovely pictures. Sorry to hear of your sad loss. Greetings from Copenhagen

    • wendyfe says:

      Hello from Ottawa, Laila, and thank you for the kind words. My grandson and his mama were in Copenhagen on a Lego trip last year and then a little trip around Denmark. It was healing for them.

  4. Dianne Ayers says:

    Lovely to see your voice once more…Dixx

  5. Now is that coincidenceor what? Yesterday I was thinking about you and your blog and that I’d heard nothing for a while. I’m very sorry to hear about your beloved. A difficult time for you. However, like your garden you are starting to bloom again. What a beautiful garden you have! Here in south west France I cannot grow some of the plants you have. Pansies and irises do well and orange coreopsis ( haven’t seen red variety here). I’m mainly interested in using plants for printing and maybe painting.

    My love to you and a big thank you for this mail and blog. A lovely start to my day

    • wendyfe says:

      Many warm thanks to you, Rosalind, for your kind words.
      The coreopsis plant will give a red or orangey-red dye, no matter the colour of the bloom. The whole plant of Coreopsis verticillata gives red, green leaves, stems and all. I have tried the red and yellow striped C. verticillata Route 66 but they do not last in our tough climate, so I,stick to the yellow-flowered variety. I find that the C.lanceolata also dies out fast. Best of luck with the eco dye adventure!


  6. Kit Tyrrell says:

    Welcome back, you have been sadly missed. There are no words to comfort such a loss, but there is hope in the garden.

  7. Lorraine McNeair says:

    This is my first foray into your world, and I am so pleased that I entered your realm. I can sympathise with you on your loss, as I lost my husband on the 10th May this year. It is so hard. He also had cancer. Your garden is lovely. Love your indigo pieces of art. I am a painter, and love the idea of using natural dyes in my work if I can. Best wishes from Tasmania.

    • wendyfe says:

      Thank you, Lorraine. I am so sorry for your loss – and thank you for sharing that; indeed, it is hard. Thank God for our urge to create, our attraction to beauty. And above all, that we can share the healing. Blessings on your painter’s tears.


  8. wendyfe says:

    Blessings on your kindness to me, Kit Tyrell. The books you so graciously sent me have been, by extension, most appreciated among the bookbinders and bookartists here. The Chinese needlcase has fascinated folk – as a result, they have shared their experiments with the structure after seeing what I was able to produce with your gift. I was not quite ready to do another Show and Tell last year but maybe in future. Many, many thanks.

  9. Catherine Clarke says:

    Oh my.
    I’m a new follower of your posts. I offer you my sincere condolences and honour the time you’ve taken to mourn the loss of your loved one.

    • wendyfe says:

      Thank you, Catherine. It was hard for me to plan the words to tell my readers why I have been absent for over a year when I see the huge interest in the topic. But the data base of plants I have set up seems to look after itself and does not miss me, I see! It does needs more entries, though. In the end, I stopped trying to choose the right words and I simply did what I àlways do when I write or make art: I just started. It is as Monet advised re painting; Only start.

      Thank you for your lovely words


  10. melody says:

    Thank you, Wendy, for this post, for your words and images of art and of your garden; there is much healing you’ve shared with us here and it was good to see it this morning.
    I am pretty new to your blog, too, but found many wonderful things to read and enjoy in your work when I first came across it some months ago.
    I’m very sorry for the loss of your beloved and understand how important taking time to grieve is. Many healing blessings surround you.

  11. Such losses are so hard . . . but there in your grieving you bring some summertime to my winter! Thank you for allowing me to sit in your garden . . . it’s cold and rainy here.

    Love the shoes. Go back and buy them if they are comfortable . . . wear them as you do the housework!

    • wendyfe says:

      Thank you so much.
      Have yet to dare re the shoes…though might find polka dots on something less entertaining but more useful

    • wendyfe says:

      Thank you Late Start lady. FYI: Instead of buying those Minnie Mouse dotted temptations at $300, I painted my El Nats silver for $2…and still feel like a million $! Your encouragement led me down that road!

  12. Diane Keelan says:

    I am sorry for your loss ,creativity can be a great therapy.I want you t o know what an amazing contribution you have made for eco dyers ,creating a most wonderful resource with excellent research it is read worldwide.It is and invaluable reference and so many people will await your next update ,so good to hear from you again..we have missed you!

  13. I missed you and am so very happy to see you back writing, sharing and celebrating your garden flowers again. Your dear husband…words come with sorrow, for the space created by his passing. You inspired me to work in my gardens, and experiment with my iris. Thank you for the inspiration. It has been a gift for me. I hope that your daughter is well, and that your healing continues. Looking forward to your new works! Sincerely Lisa Camp in Michigan

  14. barleybooks says:

    Sending love and sympathy from Somerset UK. I admire your courage, your creativity, your enquiring mind. Dylan’s happy bear is a tonic! Good to have you back in my inbox!
    Please may I copy your beautiful bookmark photo to https://markerofwitness.wordpress.com/

  15. wendyfe says:

    Hello again and thank you, Ama. Indeed you may copy the bookmark pics and distribute at will. I hope to report again on the “guerrilla drop” events in our chapter of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists’ Guild ( the Ottawa Valley). I have used some bookbinder treats to make some of the bookmarks – paste papers and paper folding. Just lacking a stamp with our CBBAG logo – need to get that stamp before I make my drop!
    Thinking fondly of Bristol


  16. arlee says:

    Wendy, i’ve missed you very much, but am glad you took the time to yourself–too many of us feel we have to fill the days and the blogs, but absence here is thereness inside.

    Looking forward to sharing notes again.

  17. gingergirl1 says:

    Find peace in that beautiful garden. Extending sympathy for your loss.

  18. gingergirl1 says:

    BTW- Love that bear!

  19. catherinewitherell says:

    I’m so glad you are back again. This blog was an inspiration to me, I don’t think I ever commented before but enjoyed nonetheless. You have my greatest sympathy and I hope that your creativity is a balm and will give you a place to be your joyful self and a comforting place of expression like it always has been.

  20. Flextiles says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss Wendy. Like your lovely garden, may you bloom again one day, and find some solace in your creativity.


  21. Welcome back; such lovely garden photographs of renewal. I trust you will go forward in strength. It is mid winter here, so I am looking forward to spring. I did start a mango skin ‘solar ‘dye the other day – on the top of the hot water cylinder, but have not been able to do much of my own work this past year. Lovely artworks too!

  22. Wendy Joyce says:

    Hi Wendy, I’m a newbie to all things Eco printing and to your blog and I have to say it is the best site I have found for practical information and is a fantastic inspiration – so it is wonderful that you are back. Love your garden pictures, my garden is my therapy and I’m sure yours will be for you.

  23. Judy lemezis says:

    I know you only through the beauty you create and share with the world. I am so sorry for your loss, and feel the beauty in how you love in that too. There is a larger circle around us all although it doesn’t always feel that way. May the beauty of the circle and the earth help sooth your spirit. Judy

  24. vdbolyard says:

    oh, wendy, i am so sorry. and i am glad to hear of your reaching out to this blogging community.

  25. Liz A says:

    Such mixed feelings … sadness for your loss, gratitude for your return here. I bid you peace.

    • wendyfe says:

      Thank you, Liz. Peace is possible in a caring community such as this one, where we are in many ways but warmly connected nevertheless. I thank you for your part in it.

  26. Hello Wendy, I am so glad to see you back again. I feared from your silence that the worst had happened and I know you just have to let the grief process take its time until you feel ready to face life again. I have used the information on your website so much and loved your work, so look forward to seeing more of it. The indigo painting looks really interesting. Your garden looks so beautiful, I needed mine when in recovery from cancer and find it so inspirational. Best wishes and greetings from Gloucestershire in full bloom, Cherry

    • wendyfe says:

      Thank you, Cherry. I hope your healing continues and abounds. ARt and gardens are wonderful therapy, as is sharing these delights with like-minded Companions on The Journey. Safe and rich travels to you

  27. Cindy Capra says:

    My condolences, Wendy. Your garden is certainly a metaphor for life – what looks like despair can turn to beautiful life once again with care and love.
    I just discovered your blog – Wow! I have dabbled (lightly) with eco dying and am amazed at what you can achieve. I do have a question to ask you. I’ve looked everywhere on the internet and cannot find what I seek. I am trying to replicate a dying project I saw years ago. An ostrich egg was dyed used flowers and leaves. I know the egg was layered with plant materials and then wrapped with strips of fabric for the dying process. That’s all I know. Do you have any idea how this could have been done? The finished egg was covered with color from the plants. Reminded me of an English garden. ANy insight you can give me would me greatly appreciated. Living in Alaska, my choices of plant materials is probably different from other areas and with fall upon us my selection will be limited but I want to try. Thank you so much,

    • wendyfe says:

      Hi Cindy

      Yes the egg dyeing is really well known as a folk craft. Many cultures have done it and for centuries, and not only with ostrich eggs! Often as an Easter craft. Any egg will work. Do a good search on the internet for egg dyeing.

      For the plant dye version:,clean the egg, wrap your egg in a plant eg a small leaf and/or flower petals, wrap over the plants with a piece if nylon stocking or even a bandage ,tie closed, submerge in water and cook the egg unti you see the colours emerging. Some people -add vinegar but be aware that vinegar can change rhe colours of the plants. Try eucalyptus leaves or coreopsis – these give red. Use squished berries like dogwood to try for blue, Japanese maple for green – or surprises from any of these…be adventurous and do not obsess about getting the same colours you might see on other people’s experiments. Likely that will not succeed bc people rarely know how to report ALL the conditions needed for exAct replication. But do try the fok craft egg dyeing and use their instructions

    • wendyfe says:

      Try this: layer your plants around the egg, covering most of it; slip a piece of pantyhose over them to keep the plants firmly in place, drop the egg into cold water and bring to a boil then simmer.

  28. bixxynash says:

    Wendy…So sorry for your loss and understand that time is the greatest healer, as is art too. Have only just now discovered ecodyeing although have been printing in other methods for a while and am blown away at how much I am enjoying the alchemy…Chemistry just wasnt this interesting at school. Still struggling to get good prints on cloth but will be playing again today….enjoy the fruits of your garden and look forward to seeing more from you in the future. Will now sign on to your feed Bx

    • wendyfe says:

      Thank you, Ms. Bixxy. I am continually touched by the consolations offered to me by people I have not met in the flesh – though somehow in the spirit, we meet when we share compassion – as well as crazy interests! For good prints on cloth: the keys are: 1. Good prep ( scoured first to remove product build-up in vintage or new fabrics) 2. Appropriate premordanting ( alum acetate is a good all -rounder) 3. Consider whether cloth is protein ( silk, wool) or cellulose (cotton, linen, bamboo, hemp, etc) – this gives an advance idea of how well the plants might print – often more quickly on protein 4. Close contact between plant and cloth – very important! Weigh down, tie tightly, etc. 5. Plenty of time for hot steamwater processing – at least 45 mins and more time for resting ( though I rarely let the thing rest longer than the time it takes to cool enough to handle – but others swear by “resting time” 6. Effects of overlapping plant pigments in the bundle or stack 7. A second and/or third time in the pot with new plant material 8. Post-process tinkering: paint on iron oxide liquor ( from rusted bits in vinegar, vinegar, ammonia in various select spots with a view to causing colour shifts here and there due to pH adjustments.
      As you said, Ms Bixxy, it is alchemy and more fun than HS Chem. Consult a good dye chem ref like Cardon or dye practice ref like Dean – see my list of references.
      And enjoy


  29. alikya says:

    I am so glad to see that you are back and I am so sorry for your loss. Your post really touched my heart.
    Art, of any kind, is so healing and you do it so beautifully.

  30. So sorry to hear of your loss, time and the garden are great healers. Your garden is looking wonderful

  31. wendyfe says:

    Thank you and blessings, Debbie

  32. JB says:

    I just realized you are back blogging again. Hurrah!! I have let my eco printing go by the wayside due to a couple very disappointing tries, after many successful go rounds. So I am going to bite the bullet and get busy again. Love the gorgeous garden shots. Glad your heart is beginning to heal.

    • wendyfe says:

      Thank you so much for those warm thoughts, Ms JBOOKAZ!

      For your eco prints: Make sure you have close contact between materials and that you weigh stuff down very well. Scour the cloth to get rid of additives and ‘or build up of soaps etc. Mordant by soaking overnight in 5% alum acetate to weight of fibre. Do not rinse out the mordant. Choose plants that give good colour – check my plant list. Cook at least 45 mins. over steam. These are the basics for success

      And good luck

    • wendyfe says:

      Can’t see easily from the new and “improved” WP interface if I have replied already to this comment, JB.
      Just keep trying the basics and keep a checklist

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