September Goodbyes

Not goodbye to my blog this September but certainly goodbye to the studio and garden at 20W. The Blue Heron came to say farewell:


Spent all of August and September so far sorting, packing, recycling, chucking out:



Of course, I saved a stack or two of this summer's printed textiles for blog pics. July was basically my last month working in the studio, racing to finish eco printing wools for an article in the British “Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers” (; making sure to use up all the iris leaves in my garden to make paper and the frozen irisvblooms to print book pages and cloth; finally, printing up silk that had been soaking for weeks in alum water.

First, the wool ( a recap of last blog post):


Wools eco printed with iron, maples, sumac, coreopsis and prunus cistena. Now for the silks:



Prunus cistena and coreopsis, above.



Rose, marigold, iron, sumac, prunus c.:



Coreopsis verticillata, rhus typhina, “Purple Passion” apple slices:



Rugosa rose, prunus cistena, iron, sumac:



Tagetes, iron, prunus:



Rhus typhina, Coreopsis v., Rosa rugosa:



Tagetes, Prunus cistena, Eucalyptus globulus:



As above, with “Purple Passion” apple slices.



The Story Table.

Witness to the spinning and weaving of many life-tales ( and plenty of unravelling, too) this (five-dollar) school library table was rescued and gifted to us 40 years ago…Oh, it has seen and heard many a story…For the new house, it will get a face lift but it will always remain our communion table:


Here we all are, as we are on Labour Day 2013, saying goodbye after a final meal as a family in our home of 35 years and celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary.

Clockwise from the tallest: Shlomo, Shannon, Sarah, Scott, Hannah, Matthew and Wendy. Seated ( L to R) : Nemo the Lab, Dylan, Noah, Layla.


Next up? Making art in Umbria, Italy!

Off to spend the month of October experimenting with the dye properties of plants in Umbria along with bookbinding traditions there as well as papermaking…Will be posting from Mount Subasio near Assisi.




Coreopsis eco prints in review

The stunning reds in eco prints of Coreopsis verticillata are available most of the growing season in Zone 4 USDA where my garden is located; and even in winter, dried C. verticillata plants give vestiges of colour. We have 119 frost free days in Ottawa, from late May to sometime in September. The C. lanceolata and C. tinctoria are not reliably hardy in my garden – I think there are some cold zones that go below Zone 4 averages. Thus, C. verticillata is my reliable source of colour.

First, a reminder of a solar dye extraction: the coreopsis in alum and water (left) and plain water (right), just a few moments after being submerged in the jars of water. (The coreopsis have been in jars fo two weeks now and the colours of both are deepening. But that coreopsis story will be for another post! ) What is remarkable about the alum jar is that the coreopsis had been used already in an eco print on paper, yet it continued to give colour of this intensity – with alum acetate as mordant. The “plain water” jar contains fresh leaves which had not been processed.

Here are the somewhat frost- tender coreopsis:

And here is the hardier C. verticillata: I think the variety is “Zagreb”, since it is on the short side, i.e., about 18″

Late last summer, I made eco prints on paper with C. verticillata and plants that give contrasting colours. I love the “orange/blue” opposition and all versions of it, as here, with Purple Sandcherry (Prunus cistena) that gives a teal blue-green in the late summer:

Notice that the stalks and leaves (“Threadleaf” coreopsis) print browny-orange as well as red; and a kind of khaki, below:


When winter came alone, I had no more coreopsis left in my garden! But a neighbour who cuts down all her foliage in fall gave me her clippings of a much taller C. verticillata, “Golden Showers”, I am guessing, since it was well over two feet tall. I dried this coreopsis: the little flowers retained colour, as the image shows:

In January 2013, I made eco prints of them with dried tagetes. The coreopsis blooms gave orange patches and the stalks and leaves, dried, gave brown marks, like random straight stitchea(The tagetes gave greens and yellows, too)


I kept the bundle of dried plants in a large vase:

Spring 2013. Coreopsis, along with many other plants printed on water colour paper:

coreopsis is on the lower right of the pile of printed papers:

On the upper corners of the tulip prints:

Strong contrasts with the teals and golds of “Royalty” crabapple prints:

A few stalks of Coreopsis verticillata in an arrangement with maple seeds, spent tulip petals, dandelion and sprays of Red Currant. You can see why the plant is named “Threadleaf Coreopsis” in English. The Greek meaning is “tick” plant because the seeds look like those nasty bugs – hence another common name, “Tickseed”

Again, to repeat the pages of a ” Blizzard” book a la Hedi Kyle, printed with three kinds of coreopsis: verticillata, lanceolata and tinctoria: I will leave you to guess which is which and try for yourself the joys of working with this plant!



FInally, the linen printed with sumac and C. verticillata.

Modified with an iron dip:

No iron dip:

Next up:

In praise of dandelions! Their first wave has passed, but more will be coming we know!

Last weekend I attended a Dandelion Festival in Kemptville, Ontario. Learned how to make root beer with dandelions! Ate dandelion pesto on chicken with dandelion cupcake for dessert. Report coming.



More May Art

Today some more views of prints starring Coreopsis verticillata. This coreopsis is a native of North America. The Cherokee apparently knew of its red dye. Other forms of coreopsis, like “tinctoria” give deep yellows, and “lanceolata” blooms give yellowy- orange. I am trying each of these, and the whole plant not just the bloom.

Here Is what she looks like in bloom:

Meet C. verticillata's cousins, C. lanceolata and C. tinctoria (in front of Husband's Maypoles…(Did you know that medieval herb gardens often used brightly-coloured, striped wood to delineate square planting beds? I had that in mind when I, errrr, “commissioned” this sculpture from my resident Garden Art Sculptor) The coreopsis bloom with the red striped face is tinctoria.

I tried all three kinds in a wee “Blizzard” book (thank you, Hedi Kyle, for showing us that freely), inserting entire stems with blooms into the book pages and then steaming as usual. (C. Verticillata has no blooms yet). With these results. Coreo v. = all red; Coreo l. = orange-ellow and deep red-brown blooms, brown stems; Coreo t. = yellow blooms, brownish stems. Grey-blue from…???



A spent marigold joined the party, with large golden prints on the point of the left triangle fold: a bit of sumac, too. Going Native, you see.


The C. lanceolata gave the deep blackish marks here.

In the steamer: I wrapped the Blizzard Book in paper to avoid the bamboo strips printing on the book.

I have to say, they look edible…like exotic pastries…

Now a selection of printed papers (Strathmore Wet Media, 90 lb, mordanted with alum acetate in an overnight soak) First, some sprays of pink crabapple blooms with red leaves and stalks (Malus “Royalty”) that printed beautiful yellows and blues with teal. The white space does wonders for the composition.

Acer saccharum seeds with spent tulip petals and anthers: Nice to play with the colours and the placement of elements. Baroque curliqueues.

More tuiip petals: pink, yellow and red ones with black patches and anthers.

Maple seeds alone:

Elm leaves:

More red “Royalty”: Amazing teal blue-greens!

Ms. Isabella Preston's legacy blue lilacs: yellow leaf prints, turquoise blooms, a bit of iron.

A LOT iron, dipped post-printing. Coreopsis v. with Prestonia lilacs. Accordion folded paper, opened out. The colours settled so well in the folds.

More iron dipped colours: turquoise lilacs turn blue-grey.

A paper liner from under bundles in the steamer:

Tulips a-rioting

A stack of riotous prints:

White lilac with Purple Sandcherry and red “Royalty” crabapple. And a slice of rusty metal.

To finish: some more Embroidery Retrospectives. These embroideries were inspired by our Boreal spring growth and rushing snow-melt waters

“Beyond” – on painted silk.

“Summer Willows”. On painted silk organza.


Until next time and the last of my May posts for this year.

The crabapple and has now dropped all its blooms, and the tulips are nearly all gone. So no more eco prints from the garden using these lovelies.

The lilacs and the Prunus cistena will be with us for maybe another week, soon making way for iris, peony, poppies, cranesbills and the first of the roses.

But faithful coreopsis will be sticking around all season – no spring ephemeral is she.

Next post: A review of coreopsis in my dye studio