Thursday, August 27, 2009

Natural dying in Window Rock, Arizona

We're back from our vacation and there are so many things to share I don't know where to begin, so I'll start with my dye workshop and collecting the plants for the class. We began our class Thursday night at the Quality Inn in Window Rock, Arizona under their shade house. Mary, (the coordinator) began the session with a "Cochineal Cook off". Although the Navajo really aren't known for their use of the cochineal (insect) in their dying, it is well known for its use in many other parts of south west, Mexico and all the way down through South America. Mary first crushed the bugs and put them in a pot of hot water, then prepared the dye the way it is done in Mexico, with a handful of cream of tarter and a couple of big splashes of lime juice. We let it simmer about an hour then added the wool yarn and my wool fabric. (my fabric was premordanted with alum and most of the yarns were not).

Here you can see the variety of colors we achieved with the different wools. My fabric turned a bright magenta shade while some of the other yarns have an orange shading. What a variety from one dye pot.

The next morning we were up early and met with Rose Dedman (Navajo) our teacher who took us to her "secret" spot to dig for canyaigre (wild carrot). You have to locate it in the early spring because when it's time to harvest the roots it has died back to look like this and it is not easy to spot in the fields.
Here is Rose showing my son how to dig for the roots, they look like sweet potatoes and are any where from a one foot to two feet under ground. Their not easy to get to.

After you find the tubers you finish by digging and pulling them with your hands.

This a nice bunch of fresh tubers, when you dig you find old dried out tubers and new ones. Both are used for dying giving different results. In my next posting I'll show you both colors.

This bush is cliff rose, the other girl in the picture is Rebecca, she is writing a book on natural dying. She worked very hard at collecting all the correct information and her photographer Page took a lot of wonderful pictures. It should be a great book when it comes out. I'll let you know when it does. Anyway, back to cliff rose, you clip off about 3 to 4 inches of the ends of the bush, it leaves your hands feeling like their full of sticky pitch but it washes off very easily. (Rose, Rebecca, my husband and I

We picked a lot of Rabbit Brush.

And a lot of Sage, it's every where you look and smells wonderful. (my husband, Mary and I)

In this "secret" field of sage under some of the plants you find ground lichen.
See you next week for the color results of all these wonderful plants!

1 comment:

Deb H said...

Oh man, I wish I could've gone with you! It looks like so much FUN!!!

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo