More ink

So here as promised is my update on inkmaking from my dye stash this winter – and what a winter: over 100cm of snow so far. Nothing for it but to huddle over the dye pot and carry on making ink.

First, a little info on one of the modifiers ( or colour shifters) I used for varying the ink colours made so far with buckthorn, grape, walnut and roselle. One of the chief charms of these inks for me is the fact that they can vary in colour depending on the substrate’s pH and/or on the natural dye modifiers ( colour shifters) that the artist chooses to apply. Examples of common modifiers are vinegar ( or lemon juice), soda ash and iron.

The greens, yellows and the blue in the image above are painted on with the green buckthorn: pinks develop when acid is applied, in this instance, a lemon. Yellows appear with ammonia. The other ink colours mentioned above look like this (below) when acid is touched to them:

Above is the inked paper before the lemon was printed on it.The blues are grape, the browns are walnut and iron gall ink.

Next, I thought it was time for yellows and oranges to extend the ink palette so back I went to The Stash to check out the options among my native plant colours. It happened that some years ago I had picked up some Osage orange wood sawdust/shavings at a local shop. This plant is native to the southern states of the US but was introduced elsewhere as hedge material – it is thick and has wicked thorns, too. (Osage is often termed invasive now). The deep orangey-yellow heartwood can be used for dye. So though not a local native, it works as one for me, and also because its name makes a connection to the Osage First Nation and to my interest in First Nations dye traditions

After soaking the wood shavings in water for a few weeks (I forgot to write what kind of water I put in the jar – I think it was tap water with pH about 6.5), I cooked them with distilled water added in the slow cooker for several hours on and off; then I strained out the shavings, filtered the liquid and cooked it down to 25% of the original dye bath volume. At the last, I added a teaspoon or so of soda ash to bump up the yellows to orangey. The result is as shown below:

Osage orange ink, ink swatch, Osage shavings, filter paper

Upon this sunny elixir, I bestowed the name ” Osage Orange Tomcat” – you can guess why? But really, because I was inspired by the Paul Klee exhibit at the National Gallery in Ottawa. Klee did a wee painting of his orange tomcat that I love (Klee is my big fave and I love orange kitties, too)

Here are some more pics of the ink collection so far: the light yellow is what the Osage looks like when swatched before cooking.
Squint to see the labels! These are the inks as a collection
Various pinks from rosehips, sumac and roselle

Inks swatched out on various papers. The pH of the papers can alter the colours of the inks in a delightful way! Pink roselle turns blue on certain papers as does purple grape.
Inks on kozo paper which tends to keep the original colour and to mute it somewhat. (And the snow stays white no matter what) Colours L to R: Osage orange, Osage yellow, buckthorn green, rosehip red-brown, dead tulip pink, roselle pink, grape purple, walnut and grape grey, walnut brown, burnt dahlia and osage (what? ) and iron gall with sumac and walnut.
The filter papers from sumac berry

And to finish, a little book and some cards made with the inks:

Mulitflora ink on paper, handcarved stamps
Indigo ink and eco print on handembossed paper covers, coptic binding

That is probably enough for this post! I am finding this project very, shall we say, absorbing…Paradoxically, though my stash of dyes and dye plants is getting smaller, a different one is now taking its place…


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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

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:

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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…)

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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