Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Stonehenge in Michigan, yes we have one! Last week at herb society we had our annual summer picnic at a local garden, but none of the other gardens ever included Stonehenge. This home was owned by a wonderful couple who transformed a horse ranch into many tranquil meditation gardens. As we came into the driveway there was Stonehenge, looking like the real thing. The owners had it built approximately 1/3 the size of the real one using styrofoam and wire, then had it faux painted.

I think you can get some idea of the size by the trees lining it.

In there front yard they had this wonderful sculpture with a fountain in the middle. I don't remember the name of the artist who designed it.

In their Peace Orchard they had this rain tree, water slowly drips out of the bottom of the leaves.

They also created a labyrinth to stroll through and meditate.

I loved this sculpture on their garage roof.

And what was once a horse pasture now has a waterfall and stream running through with beach sand along the rocks.

Lily pads and water grasses growing throughout. In the back right corner is a gazebo tucked into a wild flower field.

A native medicine wheel garden.

Back to my own humble backyard and my dye planter, the eucalyptus is ready to pick and use in the dye pot.

I thought I'd try printing some wool and silk scarves with the leaves. I wrapped them up tightly and tied them with string. Then I took some wool yarn, (thought I might be able to print the yarn to match the scarf to use as an edging), I wrapped it around the eucalyptus stem with leaves layered around the yarn.

I placed the fabric and yarn in my dye pot, water in the bottom. With the lid on top I steamed the fabrics for a good hour. Left it over night to cool (without taking off the lid). The next day I put them in ziplock bags and left them in the sun for a week to process.

I also layered wool yarn in a jar, first layer was with cochineal bugs, the next layer was osage orange bark, ending with madder root, and a rock on top to hold it all down under the hot water. I placed this out in the sun for a good week also.

This is my solar dyed wool scarf (layered with the cochineal, osage orange, and madder root) with the solar dyed wool yarn. I think I will needle felt some swirly patterns with the yarn into the scarf and blanket stitch the edge with it also.

This is some of my solar dyed fabrics (I forgot to photograph the scarves, next week). The yarn turned out pretty good, it picked up a lot of the red and gold from the eucalyptus leaves. I have two more larger batches sitting in the sun processing. The indigo was not solar dyed, it just looked good with the fabrics, I can see a large sun pieced out of the three fabrics with the blue as the background, then quilted with the wool yarn.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


A beautiful Dale Chihuly glass exhibit is on display at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture park in Grand Rapids, Mi. Yesterday I packed a picnic lunch and my husband and I spent the day there. The glass work and gardens are so beautiful it takes your breath away. I don't know much about the different glass artists but I do "know" Chihuly. Once you know his work its easy recognise, it's very organic and is like no other glass. These are just a few of his beautiful pieces. The first one you see coming into the gardens is this large piece with the glass house in the background.

A close up.

Inside the glass house was a large collection of of pieces, some in the Ikebana style (Japanese flower arrangement).

Outside the glass house this large piece titiled "Rose Quartz".

This blue piece is tucked in among the blue sage plants.

This group would look great in my garden.

This piece "Summer Sun" is on the edge of a wild flower field.

Close up.

Set along a creek "Neodymium Reeds and Blue Herons".

This is a pond with the white glass pieces laying along the banks. This was my least favorite piece and my husband loved it.

You see more of this type of his sculptures on permenent displey at differnt buildings.
These were just a few of the many pieces on display until Sept. 30 plus the gardens have many sculptures on permanent display from world famous artists.
If you are able to, take time to visit the exhibit. For more information

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Solar dying II

As most places around the country (except Alaska) we have had a hot, hot summer. It's been great for solar dying. These are the two jars I showed in my last post, the one on the right is layered annatto and osage orange and the one on the left is layered with cochineal, osage orange and then madder root on top. I left them around 10 days in the hot sun. A little too long because I have some white spots on top of the wool that I think is mold. I seem to able to pull it off.

This is how they looked after I washed them, a rich and beautiful color. You can see the cochineal at the bottom, some spots very dark, then the osage orange gold swirled in, and on top a rustier red.

The annatto and osage orange weren't quite as dramatic, but very rich colors swirled around.

The colors match my marigolds.

Next I thought I'd try red onion skins. So I layered the wool with the skins.

This is what it looked like after a week in the hot sun.

And this is it rinsed out, where the leaves touched the fabric it was a gray blue with a dull tan around it. Not as pretty as it sounds. So I rinsed it in ammonia.

Now it's bright gold with weird green spots. It will probably end up in another dye bath the end of summer.

I laid theses black-eye-Susan's on my pew in the dye studio while I was getting ready to hang them for drying, when I turned around to get them they were so beautiful I snapped a pictures.

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo