Sunday, 11 December 2011

Dying with Cedar Bark and Alder cones on Silk

Left: Alder iron mordant overdyed with a single indigo dip. Middle: Alder cones with Copper mordant. Right: Cedar bark with copper mordant.

The mountain's decidious trees are vibrant copper and the veins of muted lumberjack green colored cedar trees that climb the gullies and hide the family graveyards were the inspiration for Tuesday's dyed silk.

The students who come regularly on Tuesday travel up to several hours to come to the house to study. I try to fit in some extra activity each week to make the trip worth it. It might be picking mushrooms or citrus or watercress from near the house for lunch. Often it is a walk to get dying materials. Something seasonal. This time we stripped off some cedar bark and used that as a dye. While boiling the bark we added some strong acidic agent to get a low pH. You can use vinegar but need about 50 times the amount. Once the dye bath was ready we raised the pH back to almost 6 with slaked lime.

Yashbushi / Alder cones The trees grow up the mountain in front of the house. (A hard climb.) I found a jackpot forest of alder trees on the slopes of Mt Fuji. My friend Mark and I gathered a good size bucket of these cones there once.(A good one hour drive.)

On the walk to get the cedar bark Kawamoto san saw some vines for making baskets just out of reach over a 15 meter drop off. So I ended up with three students suspending me off the edge by the top of my jeans. It was Ok. I was just wearing regular grey long johns.
Guillaume (back row) is the French Woofer helping me with farm and carpentry work recently.


  1. Seems to me a beautiful area, no wonder you decided to make it your home. I am fascinated by your dyeing.

  2. suffering from a serious case of want- do- try- it- here. those skeins are gorgeous!