This time of the year, December to March/April, has become our season for natural dyeing using our NZ native botanicals.
It's warm, the days are long & summer in to autumn is when the plants we use seem to be at their best.
Birds (& most insects too I think) are past the busy time of their breeding season & if there is an abundance we feel it's ok for us to be gathering plant based resources*
The first two dye baths were made from leaves of Tānekaha & Hīnau.
We collected the fallen leaves from under the trees.
We dyed white cotton calico, muslin netting & muka in all the dye baths.
we also dyed a few odds & ends which I've mentioned separately in the relevant section.
This dyebath took quite some time before there seemed to be enough colour within it & finally after 5 days we obtained beautiful soft peachy colours from it.
We obtained brown, as expected from the Tānekaha & a dark grey/green black, as expected from the Hīnau.
Initially the colour from the Tōtara after being in the paru was a gorgeous soft grey however this has shifted to a gentle brown.
It’s an absolutely beautiful colour & I must admit it’s actually what I had anticipated we might obtain from Tōtara, simply because it’s a conifer.
It’ll be interesting to experiment with dried branches & leaves of Tōtara in the future.
It’s been a super abundant season & although we’ve had flocks of kererū coming & going, coming & going, there have still been many berries falling to the ground.
Once the berries are on the ground we noticed nothing eats them, in fact, nothing even touches them so we decided it would be ok to collect some & make a dye bath.
We have obtained 5 different colours on the cellulose fibres & a completely totally unexpected colour on a random piece of silk I put in late one night !
There are 2 pinks, 2 greys & a purple on the cottons, muka & linen thread and the silk is almost black.
Such an adventure & so much fun.
With time we’ll be able to see whether the colours we have obtained are colour & light fast.
What’s next ?
Tawa leaves next - I mean how could we not !
We collected enough dried fallen leaves a few months ago. So no reason not to.
We got some beautiful shades last year so it’ll be nice to see what we get this year.
Maybe we’ll follow that with Rewarewa … who knows
I’ll keep you posted for sure.
The Tawa are mature forest trees on the perimeter of our covenanted bush area.
The other trees we gather from are all part of a wetland restoration project we started about 16 years ago when we retired a hectare of badly degraded land & started planting native trees in to that area.
It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to watch the changes over the years, to know that we have helped to create this & in return are being given this abundant resource, simply by being patient & nurturing the area back to health.
**Here's a list of the trees we've gathered from this season
Tānekaha: Phyllocladus trichomanoides
Hīnau: Elaeocarpus dentatus
Tōtara: Podocarpus totara
Tawa: Beilschmiedia tawa
***Paru is iron rich mud which is used for iron tannate dyeing & traditionally, by Māori, used to dye muka