Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dyeing Silk Scarves with Elderberries

I have had so much fun over the last year dyeing fiber (mostly silk) with a variety of plants and other natural materials. Cochineal beetles come to mind. Anyway, my latest dyepot was with Elderberries, and it gave me the most wonderful soft taupe color. It's a lovely cross between gray, brown and purple. Here's a photo taken my my friend Maryanne. I love the dyepot process - I never know exactly what will come out. There are so many variables, including what the water might have in it! I only dyed scarves in the Elderberry pot & gave many of them away in a "swap" organized by Tina & Maryanne for The Essential Herbal. Sometimes, I dye other things, too, including rayon sun dresses & wrap around skirts. One of my favorites is silk camisoles. Here's a photo of scarves,camisoles & even a couple of parasols dyed with a variety of plants. That's my apprentice Jen on the left, my friend Linda from AvalonBlue in the center, & me on the right. What a day we had!

You can go to my web site to see what we have on hand now. There are quite a few silk scarves & I'm thinking that they would make excellent holiday gifts. These are lovely Habotai silk scarves, dyed using a variety of natural materials - onion skins, madder root, logwood, brazilwood, tansy, usnea, and of course elderberries.

As I said, I do love the dyeing process - it's always such a magical experience. I never know precisely how each scarf will turn out, and I always am awed by each one. The size of the scarves is approximately 8"x54", a perfect size for wearing around your neck. Another of the things that I love about natural dyes is the color - it's sometimes subltle, sometimes strong, but they all "go" together! You could wear any color scarf with almost any other color & it would complement it beautifully.
I also use one of these scarves to wrap each of my decks of tarot cards, too. In my experience, the silk helps to keep them "clear". I don't use runes myself, but if I did, I'd wrap them in silk before placing them in their bag, too.