More walnuts



Last time I reported on making walnut colour extract on its way to becoming ink. The walnuts have been fermenting since late summer 2015. They started out in big jars (128 fl oz), a couple of dozen green-hulled walnuts in each jar with water to cover, left to solar-soak outside until frost, then transported inside to dark studio cupboards.

Most recipes I have looked at suggest removing the green hull and using that part. I thought that maybe some extra tannins might enter the dye if I left the nutmeats inside their shells and cooked them along with the green bits. After cooking ( and before being donated to the critters outside) I find they  look a quite lovely deep brown:

 

Walnut does quite well as a dye without cooking. I found it enough to simply soak a discoloured vintage white wool coat in a bucket of fermenting walnuts. After a couple of weeks soaking and a rinse in plain water, this was the colour:

You can see that different shades of white wool had been used to crochet this thrift-shop find. I could also have soaked the coat a second and third time for deeper shades. Wool dyes beautifully in walnut- here are some more examples from a few pre-ink years ago:

Eco printed wool pre-felt, native plants.

Lambs-wool cardy dyed with walnuts, iron nails and eucalyptus (I  forget which kind)

Little strips of blanket trimmings bundled with various eucalyptus and immersed in a walnut dye bath – also from past dye pots.

Linen and cotton dye well also, as does paper. Here are some samples of eco dye prints made in October 2013 while Shlomo and I were in residence at Arte Studio Ginestrelle near Assisi in Umbria. The walnut there ( photo below) is the Juglans regia – ours in Ottawa is Juglans nigra.

Notice the distinct pinky lavender colour that comes out with the yellow pigment in the eco print.

 

The photo above shows one of my Artist Books with linen covers eco dyed in walnut; the pages are about other  plants of the Subasio Regional Park where the art residence was located. The title of the little book is “Pianticelli del Subasio”.

And now here is a little surprise – walnuts combined with wild grapes to make a colour extract. I found a reference to this combination in a book about First Nations quill dyeing traditions. The recommendation was to combine walnuts with ” a lot of wild grape” and cook that until the liquid went black. I stopped the cooking way before the liquid turned black and got this grey-blue-greenish colour you see on tag of the left hand bottle of ink. ( More on grapes next time) 

And to finish in a sweet walnut note from the kitchen: here is what we had for breakfast one day at the art residence: walnut-parmesan scones ( I do not have the recipe so must go back there and pick it up…)

Until next time.

Welcome to new readers and thank you to those who have been following along this inky passage this fall. I do have lots of ink-fixings in my stash yet to be explored so we are not done yet.

Happy Chanuka for tomorrow, too!

This year, I made some chanakiot for the grandkids  – The candle ” flames” are cut-outs with velcro attached so the kids can “light” their candles each night ( and open a little loot bag, too! )

Even if we do not celebrate Chanuka, we  can still be the light!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Walnuts Continued



It’s finally time to get to that benignly-neglected walnut stash that has been fermenting in a dark cupboard in my studio since the summer of 2015.

At Canadian Thanksgiving in early October, I posted a few photos here of a quick dye/ink made with a few freshly foraged green walnuts that obliged by producing the above-pictured measure of dye.

I learned from my research, however, that the best walnut colours in terms of fastness  can be had from walnuts that have soaked for a year, water-covered, in wooden casks. Now my green walnuts had been soaking for three years in big glass jars, so neither extra tannins ( from the wood) nor oxygen (which is believed to optimize the dye characteristics) entered the glass jar as happens with wood casks.  One might expect bad smells and molds after all that time, too, but there were none of either. My three-year walnut liquid had simply  become a thick dark brown potage smelling slightly of the fall forest. I wonder if fermentation prevents the mold that walnut ink is reputed to harbour? Time will tell.

To make this batch of  walnut colour, I put half a potful of the mushy brown ferment (along with the still-hard nuts in their shells) in the slow cooker, covered the sludge with water and heated this for an hour or so at  80 – 90 C. After straining and filtering the liquid, I cooked it down by half until it was sort of a bit syrupy. The dye looks like this on watercolour paper:

The dye liquid, cooked down, was then put into wee bottles ( with some gum arabic added to ink it up) and  finished with walnut-dyed tags and labels:

Off to the craft fair next weekend in Chelsea, Quebec! And taking some buckthorn ink along, too:

Next ink colour to try is wild grape, waiting its turn in the stash, Might even have some ready to go with the walnut and buckthorn for next weekend! Naturally, the ink so-obtained can work as paint, also;  you can even add some other binder – an acrylic glazing liquid might be nice.

A la prochaine, mes amis/amies

Making paint and ink with fall buckthorn berries

A few posts back, I shared with readers my stack of current books. One of them is by Jason Logan and is about making ink from plants he forages in the city, notably Toronto, NYC and Brooklyn. I find his book a truly charming intro to the world of foraging plants for pigments, well researched, beautifully written, and most of all, recipe-rich with luscious photographs of very arty ink marks. You know I love it! And he has great entries on his Instagram, too. ( Jason Logan’s book : Make Ink: A Forager’s Guide to Natural Inkmaking)

In the past, I have posted here about making paint and/or ink with blue iris and walnut; more recently, coreopsis was the subject. This time, I am reporting on buckthorn berries, a traditional source of green dye and paint. Artists of the Renaissance and later used buckthorn berries as a source of “sap green” as well as for various yellows or yellow-greens. The colours obtained depended on berry ripeness, plant variety and methods used for the colour extraction – all fascinating topics widely written up. (If these interest you, check out some of the references this blog, works by Dominique Cardon and Jenny Dean being great resources. You might also check a most informative blog on making artist paints: http://www.sunsikell.wordpress.com. Each of these provides trustworthy info on the pigment properties of and colour extraction methods for various varieties of buckthorn)

The buckthorn familiar to me in the Ottawa area is Rhamnus cathartica, and it is not an MVP in the plant world hereabouts! In fact, an Ottawa buckthorn SWAT team of vigilantes meets regularly to search and destroy this invasive non-native. But in spite of my preference for working with native plants, I am pretty excited and not too politically correct to find some pleasant use for the berries of the otherwise-despised buckthorn.

In fact, I found a whole hedge of the buckthorn bushes laden with juicy blue-black berries in late September ( the birds eat the berries only when nothing better is available, I have learned. ) So I helped myself to about two cupfuls with the intention of making ink and/or paint, having been inspired and instructed by Jason’s book.

First task was to extract the colour from the berries. Now I have to admit that at this point, I did not follow the instructions in Jason’s book. His practice is to just squash the fresh berries and use the juice uncooked. I decided to go with traditional dye extraction practice for this first attempt; this involved crushing the berries, covering them with water, cooking them at a simmer in the slow cooker until the water took on a dark purple-blue colour and then straining them in a jellymaking bag:

Notice how the jelly bag begins to turn green, even when purple juice has not done draining into the pot! ( Probably because of the soap residue in the jelly bag)

Now the fun begins. Indeed, to obtain green is the first colour goal, so a portion of the purple liquid is poured into a glass jar ( about a cupful) and a scant teaspoon of alum acetate is added. A good stir and a shake – et voila! Green! But not as a result of adding lye crystals, as Jason uses: first, because I had no lye on hand and anyway, older recipes often recommended alum ( though potassium aluminum sulphate). Thus, first pic shows the basic purple juice extraction, then the green with the alum added:

Then some trials on paper with these two colours ( FYI: the first pic shows how the purple stains changed colour in the empty cooking pot when I rinsed it with plain tap water – triggering a pH change and thus a colour move from blue to green) . The papers were painted with the purple and the green pigments.

With the addition of other modifiers besides alum, other colours besides greens developed. Ammonia gave brownish-yellow, soda ash gave yellows, lemon juice and white vinegar gave pink, without alum. Here are some of the samples:

To help preserve the natural paints/inks from developing molds, a number of agents can be tried. I used whole cloves ( Jason’s recommendation) in some containers and tea tree oil ( a well known anti-fungal) in others. But any mold that might develop can simply be removed and discarded. Depends how you feel about the mold.

Next time, I plan to report on the performance of additives like gum arabic that Jason recommends for ease of ink/paint flow for markmaking.

Meantime, I have buckthorn berries fermenting ( see Cardon for info on this) and plan to use those berries fresh, not cooked, to see how the colours develop in comparison to the colours obtained from the cooked ones. BTW, after cooking, you can put the mashed berry residue back into the pot, cover with water and cook again for a second extraction. And you can freeze the berries, too.

PS on ART FOR AID

For folks who have been following my art kit project to benefit Art For Aid: the good news is that a shipment of mylar blankets has left for the north, eagerly awaited by First Nations families as winter sets in. My art kits have started to arrive – one donor in NSW, Australia has even received hers BEFORE the kit mailed on the same day last week to Victoria, British Columbia! Generous folks have even donated over and above what I was able to supply in kits to match donation, though I was able to send them a just one wee kit. These little ones were in small stash I had set aside in case of SNAFUs….And no-one at all has asked for a refund, even if they were they unable to get a kit in a size that matched their donation when the supply ran out

I am extremely gratified and touched to find myself in the company of people like all these donors. Some compassionate and generous people even offered to make an extra donation as compensation for those who might have asked for a refund. I have experienced in this project the hope created by people who light candles instead of cursing the darkness.

A la prochaine, dear reader

Wendy

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Yes, dear Readers, I am still blogging, despite the long hiatus in posts. Welcome to all who have subscribed in the last year and to readers who just pop by for a look now and then. Thank you for your comments and your encouragement to keep on making art! I have much to be grateful for this year despite the obstacles. Today I want to tell you about that.

But not too much text from me just now – let us begin with a picture! Ottawa was hit by some destructive weather two weeks ago; my area was fortunate in that we only lost power for a few days. Others lost their homes. Miraculously, only a few  people were injured, thank God not more; alas,  one poor sheep died, along with a chicken. Many trees were uprooted, though.

Here is what it looked like in my living room a few hours after the power went out:

1E496542-83AF-4851-94D6-CEFE16C93025

The skinny candles are burning on candlesticks made by Shlomo. Thank you, Shlomo!  Thanks to a charged-up iPad, I was able to read my iBooks until a kind neighbour-friend juiced it up again next day in a part of town unaffected by the power outage. TG! This fine neighbour has a gas stove that remained operational and allowed her to bring me coffee in the morning. A place must surely now be reserved in Heaven for her.

2018 has been a slow year for my art owing to injury to my art arm, the right. But it has come around finally, thanks to physio and cortisone shots…I am trying to get back in the studio more. Yet more to be grateful for.

On the Family Front: a wonderful suprise. My son and his Beloved of 12 years decided to get married officially. Attended by our families (including their own two kids), we had a wedding!

I love the photo of the ladies with The Bride in their beautiful wedding clothes and delighted smiles. My Hannah and Sarah are R and L of the bride. And check out 2 year old Ezra with his little cousin negotiating the consumption of his chips…you would think he was proposing…but my fave is the one with the little cousins and the Bride and Groom making silly faces. O, it was a happy day!

I made small artworks for the table: little paste-painted place cards in the form of a single-signature book, pamphlet sewn, for each guest; the  cards were housed  in keepsake slipcases covered in eco dyed silk printed with iris blooms ( a stash treasure). Guests were invited to write their good wishes and of course, the kids got to draw and colour.

BF55BA04-D661-4C09-AB5F-3D031D23303C

On the art show side of things: I am delighted to have some of my FRESCO wall art pieces on show at the new Ottawa Art Gallery- a fabulous new City of Ottawa venue for local and other artists. FRESCO is a series of eco dyed works ( indigo and rust) invoking the experience of finding beauty in decay and decomposition. Here is an example of a collection of smaller works in the series:

98B76EE8-05B7-4FF0-9A7B-D55AECE69EC5

Now a few pics of the garden, my refuge as well as my source of plants for pigments: it is fall now and time to collect and freeze the dye plants.

My fall dye work is starting: it is black walnut time! This year, I plan to make ink again ( in the past, I have made ink from blue iris, walnut and coreopsis) but will try some new plants. Meanwhile:

E5B8C5D7-EA2B-4CD7-AF0D-E1C7580074DE

 

AA5B7720-A3AC-4B7C-B58A-D9D056628ADE

Four cups of water, cooked in the slow cooker on low overnight. Cooks down to one cup, which will be strained in cheesecloth then cooked down some more. Then add a wee spoon of gum arabic – et voila, ink! Or let the the strained and cooked-down dye evaporate, then store the powder. The squirrels and I thank the Creator for the bounty of walnuts!

Finally for this LONG post, I leave you with some of the books  have been reading this year – all at once, of  course. They lie all over the house at the ready ( note the visual pun…)

559422EC-8172-42FD-80D0-526E345EBE43

And a selfie – I have let my hair go as nature would have it ( much cheaper and less annoying than visiting the hairdresser)

Happy Thanksgiving to all and thank you for following. Next time, maybe I will have remembered better how to navigate the wordpress editor!

I have an renewal of my blog and website happening on the back burner so hope that will be done in the next few months – and at the same time, I am destashing My Stuff- and the studio Sacred Stash is not exempt this time around. Will report on how  the Stash can fuel creativity.

Meantime I have found excellent info and so far respectful sharing on a FB page Printing With Botanicals ( I think that is the title of the group). They are up on the latest Tricks and Tips for eco prints- check them out!

Blessings on your work and play, dear Readers. Click on the pics to see close-ups

Wendy

D8B908E9-D773-40BC-A830-9EE3D58971C2The fall garden 

 

 

 

 

November Studio

It is the last day of November and the day of Saint Andrew, patron of Scotland ( Greece, too) and all Scots, even those like me from Orkney! Time to report on the month's art activities, though I will not be done writing before midnight Ottawa time; still, somewhere to the west of me it will still be Saint Andrew's Day.

But first, a goodbye to the colours of autumn in The Kaleyard, last seen in the early weeks of a milder-than-expected eleventh month:

Sumac and amelanchier:

Potted amaranth and kale:

A late assortment of fall colours, some from October:

The last one is the perennial geranium, a sturdy plant, green under the snow and trusty provider of colour in the eco print pot.

Here are some papers printed this month with geranium ( and cotinus)

A smaller geranium, greened by iron/rust in the dye pot:

…and cotinus: the little flecks of pink are lovely and most likely to show up at this time of the seasons.

Cotinus: Charcoaled by iron/rust neighbours in the bundle:

Geranium, two varieties, blackened and greened with iron/rust but still holding on to yellows:

As you might notice in the work of eco printers, yellow is a frequent colour. Some despair is possible.

But take heart, Dear Dyer. A solution is available from colour theory. ( As well as from some post- print tinkering- though not discussed here today – like touching up the colour with other dyes, paints or modifiers like iron liquor or copper liquor or ammonia. And no, post-print touching-up is not a ticketable offence according to me. You are the artist, and you get to do what you like with your art, especially in the establishing of your own purposes and the safe and rationale means of achieving them. )

Thus: To get the most of my yellows from season to season ( when they change value and even hue) I like to pair them with some strongly contrasting colours that can act as foils. In these prints, the contrasts come via rusty prints and cotinus; both leaves are tannin- rich that give deep charcoal or black in the environment of iron, and also some greens. Yellow and black are pretty powerful together.

And next, some more rust prints on paper, this time with indigo and tannins from tea: also powerful contrasts.

 

Winter wools are on my list of textiles for dyeing, and this year I am trying for that famous and popular ( but non-native hereabouts) eye-popping eucalyptus red introduced to us by our DownUnder Diva of Dyes, India Flint. I have a lot of dried euca around the studio saved from supermarket bouquets and welcome those Green Immigrants to the dye plant stash. Bundled with Prunus virginiana and immersed in a walnut dye bath ( Juglans nigra) prepared in a crockpot with the heat set to “low” and left overnight, some of my wool fragements look like this:

Don't the colours look familiar?

The prunus gave the teal greens and even purple, while the euca gave ranges of reds and orange with a tad of yellow. Of course, the walnuts give rich brown on wool ( though much paler on linen) So here, we get the power of analagous colours in teams beside colour complements in the red and green.

 

My most recent project this month was with Dylan, my wee grandson, aged six. We have done lots of painting and stamping and so forth on big sheets of paper, using a very basic palette of cadmium yellow medium, cobalt blue and some kind of red (we lost control of the inventory – most likely the red was cad. red) plus a nice metallic gold. Those paintings mount up – kids are decisive and prolific painters and do not hang about obsessing over the next brushstroke as we adults might tend to do. i heartily recommend a session with a six year old to get you out of your Art Rut. Just try keep up with that kid! But what to do with all our paintings as they piled up?

I hit on a plan to keep the works but to make them easier to store and fun, too. We will make books and boxes, said I!

So we have been making books and boxes from each single sheet painting, working with origami-type folds and no glue. This is an ongoing project, so today I am sharing just a few. The first is a wee box made in the style of the compartments in the Chinese Thread And Needle Case that I completed earlier this year.

For this one, Dylan and I stamped the paper with wooden Oshiwa blocks ( also reported on my blog in the past) and carved Indian textile blocks:

Others we made from painted papers:

 

And a larger box from some of my above-described geranium-cotinus prints:

 

 

If you want to try these boxes yourself, keep the ratio of the paper three times the size of the finished box; thus, the 'Geranium' box started with an 18″ square piece of paper and folded down to six inches and a tad as a box.

Here are some pics of a box under construction, to refresh your memory for the folding sequences: as you can see, you need to fold the large square of paper into a nice grid. The centred square (fold) is the bottom of the box when all the folds are in place. Two boxes fit on top of each other to make one box with a lid.

 

 

Next time, some more art from the studio with my young apprentice, who, bye the bye, was able to anticipate the next fold in his box as we went along…so you can do it, too! And it's a good time of the year to make gift boxes!

i shall likely post again about the art- from-grandkids' paintings sooner than I might otherwise do – I am grounded this week after a wee bit of surgery to my foot! But the mind keeps travelling, Dear Reader…and the hands can still move.

The blessings of Saint Andrew's Day on ya'all!

 

Wendy

 

More ecoprints on paper from plants of the Subasio

At Arte Studio Ginestrelle, my studio set up for printing on paper was dependent on found materials, whatever could be repurposed for steaming papers and textiles. I used wire-mesh screen material scrunched up in a pot or a lasagna pan with a few inches of water below and a large terracotta tile for a lid. A Gypsy Campfire was not an option because we were located in the Regional Park of the Subasio and thus subject to strict forest fire controls. My heat source was propane, the same as we used in the house for cooking (when not using the wood stove). It was a simple and effective set up in an outside barn studio. With a daily temperature of around 75 degrees, that was no hardship!

A pot with wire screen bent to fit (and it makes interesting grid prints, too)

 

Iron bits to make rust prints; abundantly available around this former three storey farm house ( built to house a family of ten) :

 

…The bundles of textile or paper were for reasons of practicality on the small side. This textile bundle had been simmered in some of the plentiful walnuts strewn under the trees on the property. I usually stacked my paper bundles six sheets of papers high, weighing the stack down with a rock on top of a tile. I bundled paper and textile in thick white linen thread and used it later to sew my Artist Books, after it had taken on pigments:

 

I used a lot of different locally available papers, some unavailable to me here in Ottawa. To my surprise, the quality Fabriano paper known worldwide was just not available in Assisi or Perugia nearby, nor in Florence – the latter because the art supply shop was closed when we visited it. (Businesses often close from 1 – 3 pm in the afternoon as well as on Saturday and Sunday). I used thicker papers ( over 300 gms) to enclose my bundles; from these I obtained prints from pigments leaking through the stack. (Fabriano is about two hours drive from Assisi towards the Adriatic at Ancona. )

Here are some samples of my papers that were printed in the first week or so of my residency when I intentionally printed only one kind of plant on each page or between two pages. This was to enable me to judge the colours I could obtain without the colour mixing that occurs when you bundle several plants together.

Post ecoprinting, I often treat paper and textiles surfaces as paintings, taking the colours and forms in directions I choose as counterpoint to the spontanaity in colour and form that is the result of an eco print.

After printing this first set of papers, I enriched their colours in various ways: by using iron as a modifier and painting on iron liquor: by resteaming the papers with other leaves or by using the same type of leaves again and steaming them longer or under more pressure; and by applying natural dye colour (e.g., madder) as powder sprinkled on or as liquid, painted on.

These papers are in their early stages of development in the layering. Later, along with the eco printed textiles, they will be layered with embroidery and taken along other colour roads.

 

The grid prints are from the screen mesh and from a metal rack during the first printing. For layered colours, I made second and third printings. Rust and madder were painted on to give more colour post-printing; squishing blue coloured berries on top of the print introduced some complementary blue shades beside the yellows and oranges.

 

 

I enjoyed the “distressed” effects on some of the thinner papers caused by the high heat in the steambath and the fact that the paper sometimes tore or developed holes. The distressed surfaces and broken colours recalled for me fresco surfaces that have faded or flaked off over the centuries. These papers will form the content of more work on that “distressed fresco” theme now that I am back in my home studio.

Meantime, here are some more examples of “Little Plants of the Subasio” gathered together as pages of botanical scrolls, or destined to be:

Italian Maple (Acer opalus):

 

Rusted pages with Rosa canina (Wild/Dog Rose) and a “ginestrelle” seed pod:

 

 

Rust print:

 

 

Italian Maple with Oak (Quercus robur) modified with iron to give black:

 

 

Blackberry smooshed on maple:

 

 

Maple with iron:

 

 

Dogwood with iron:

 

 

Paper stack barrier sheet: with leaked colour from maple and madder.

 

 

Walnut (Jugland regia) with Dogwood berries and iron:

 

 

Walnut leaf and fern with iron:

 

 

Not sure- maybe maple…Did not take good notes on that one! The blue is Dogwood berries.

 

 

Sicilian Sumac (Rhus coraria)

 

 

Fern, Blackberry and iron:

 

 

Maple, iron and Blackberry:

 

 

Fern, maple and iron:

 

 

Collection: Maple, oak and vine leaves; blackened with iron liquor painted on, post printing.

 

 

Next time: More pages for “Little Plants of the Subasio: October Scrolls” Artist Books

 

More October Ecoprints from the Subasio

“Inspired by the broken colours and forms of the still-radiant ancient frescos on the walls of churches and streets in Assisi and neighbouring medieval hill-towns, I created a series of Artist Books and textile frescos whose content refers to the natural environment of the Subasio as well as to its powerful spiritual and Dantean heritage. My intention was to research the bioregional plants of the Subasio near the Arte Studionestrelle at Santa Maria di Lignano and to discover natural pigments which I could use to dye and print locally-made paper and vintage linen. I was interested in a contemporary application of the traditional knowledge about natural dyes associated historically with this region of Italy where much of that older wisdom seems to have disappeared. My question was: Could some version of that knowledge be restored? The October native vegetation growing high up the mountain provided a rich palette from leaves, bark, berries and late blooms that worked together in successive layers of dye and print. My work on this beautiful mountain recalls to me the Fioretti (Little Flowers) of Saint Francis of Assisi whose love for the Umbrian landscape brought him and others closer to God. And although I was here too late in the season to use the traditional ginestrelle blooms in my prints, I was able to obtain much colour from their seed pods! ” (Shlomo Feldberg constructed covers and boxes for Wendy's Artist Books during his residency in addition to completing his own mixed media work.)

The statement above about my work during my residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle appears in the catalogue for the show of contemporary art at the public art gallery of Assisi. The show takes place the last week of November. As well as the inspiration I found so abundantly in and around Mount Subasio, I am pleased to share with you some of the Artist Books and textiles created during my October 2013 residency and featured in the annual exhibit by many of the Artists In Residence. I have also brought home with me many eco printed papers and textiles that will form much of my work later in the winter.

First pic: Umbrian handwoven linen, highly textured and serviceable cloth; an Assisi-fleamarket find, vintage but never used.

It took me many prep and printing sessions with mordants and local plants to express the Giotto/Cimabue/Pintoricchio fresco colours I had in mind. Even then, I used madder dye powder for the reds since Rubia tinctorum does not grow at almost 1000 metres above sea level where the Studio is located.

The abundance of yellows in the earlyOctober leaves was a challenge. During my first week of printings, shades of yellow or brown was all I could manage to obtain using a basic alum acetate mordant. Hmm. I knew I would print the papers and cloth several times again for more colour and form.

As the October days passed, the fall colours began to change and pigments both increased and decreased in the leaves. I searched for sources of blue and found them in Dogwood berries (Cornus sanguinea), Sloes (Prunus espinosa – tiny plums) and Cotinus coggygria (more blue after the middle of October). Purple showed in the bark of walnut twigs (Juglans regia) as well as late blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) and sloes; greens from Dogwood leaves (and berries, too); moss greens from Rosa canina (Dog Rose). The yellows were varied: Golden-apricot from Olive leaves; deep golden from Walnut; yellow-chartreuse from Sumac. The “ginestrelle” or Dyer's Broom (Cytisus scoparius in these parts) had only seed pods for printing tannin browns in October, its brilliant yellow blooms long gone.

Here, blue, green and teal from Dogwood berries and leaves:

 

And the enticing golden yellows from European Walnut on old cotton sheets:

 

A small display of yellows with iron (flowers by Shlomo)

 

Dogwood greens, walnut yellows and deep browns; pinks and purple-pink from walnut twig bark.

 

Rusted silk chiffon with BlackBerry and Dogwood berries:

 

 
Dogwood and walnut with the last sunflower:
 
 
Walnut with Dogwood, Elder and iron:
 

 

Artist Books : “Subasio Scrolls”

With the Subasio Scroll Collection I am continuing to develop an earlier goal: to use the accordion book form as a botanical scroll. This collection of three books is entilted “Little Plants of the Subasio: October Scroll” (1, 2, 3). A fourth book is coptic-bound and contains my handwritten copies of sayings from Dante and Francis of Assisi. The book is also entitled “Little Plants of the Subasio”.

Each page of each book, back and front, is printed with leaves, bark and/or berries and fruits of the area around Arte Studio Ginestrelle, which is llocated nearly at the top of this part of the Subasio. The range of available plants changes with the altitude (here, between 800 and 1000m.) So while madder might be found on the bottom layer of the vegetation belt, only a relative (Galium lucidum, but not a red one! ) was found at the mid-to-high level where the Studio is.

 

My aim was to use only what I could forage within that vegetation layer on the mountain and therefore not to import plants from other areas. I did succeed in that aim, except for my use of powdered madder…one cannot express the spirit of Giotto's frescos without red! All the other plant colours came from the vegetation right at hand.

(Aside: I was unable to find any really good locally-made paper for my books , despite the fact that the Fabriano art paper factory is within a few hours drive of Assisi and the other hill towns. The art supply shop in Florence was closed on Saturdays, the day we went there. One bookbinder we met in Florence says he sends for his supplies to Talas in Brooklyn!!! Or to Paris or Germany. Wow. )

 

Some of my main pigment sources were: Juglans regia, Cornus sanguinea, Rubus fruticosus, Prunus espinosa, Robinia pseudoacacia (invasive, introduced), Carpino nero, Quercus robur, “Rutacae” – species unknown except for the family relationship), Sambucus negra, Rosa canina, Acer opalus, plus Olive and Grape.

 

My “Subasio October Scrolls” collection of Artist Books consists so far of three accordion-spined and one coptic-bound book. ( Covers and Book Box were made by Shlomo Feldberg using my printed textiles and papers.) These Artist Books remain in Assisi for exhibition. Others will be added to the collection in time as I continue to work with the many papers and textiles I made there and brought home.

 

Below: Walnut leaf print on the box: walnut dyed linen thread for the book stitiching

 
 

Completed scrolls atop the reference books I used to help me identify the native and local plants. I had hope they could tell me which might be for use as sources of pigment. None of these books discussed the traditional dye uses of the plants, even when they gave extensive info about medicinal use. This confirmed my supposition that natural dye knowledge about the area was limited or non-existent.

 

 

A wild fennel and rust page in one of my books:

 

Walnut leaf page:

 

An arrray of pages in a scroll book:

 

The spine of a book with plant labels in English, Latin and Italian:

 

 

Robinia pseudoacacia:

 

 

Carpino nero (Black Hornbeam):

 

 

The little coptic-bound book of sayings from Dante and Francis of Assisi; on ecoprinted pages:

 

 

Dante, Canto IX. Mount Subasio and some prayer-poems by Francis of Assisi.

 
Title page:
 

 

 

Book box and book covers:

 

 

 
 

I leave you today with a promise to post more pics and info when (a) I have sorted and retrieved some lost photos (FB crashed iPhoto and ate my camera upload…lost a LOT of pics!!!) and (b) after we have moved to our new house next week.

(This is not our new house)

Those colours! The ducal palace at Gubbio, the town where Francis tamed the wolf:

 

Here is more inspiration from tne colours and forms of Umbria:

The view from our bedroom:

 

Look up for inspiration:

 

Look down…

 

Even the distressed surfaces inspire: in fact, these above all…

 

 

I hope I leave you looking for more like Brother Cat Cimabue (L) and Brother Cat Negrito (R)- the Studio's Resident Royalty, assigned to outdoor duties but skilled in finding “work” inside
 

 

More pics next time! Leaf prints for book pages, inspiration photos…and photos of the Studio and environs.

Best to you, dear Reader.