Yvonne Stowell, artist and owner of FiberWorks Studio and Gallery, is a beloved and valued member of our fibre arts community, inspiring and mentoring us. She hosts exhibitions, workshops and spin-ins in the yurts of her Studio and Gallery.
This summer the deck outside the yurts was brightened by planters filled with colourful dye plants. Yvonne had a large planter filled with Japanese indigo, a dye plant which our Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild has been experimenting with for the past two years.
Yvonne gathered 900 g of fresh leaves, rolled them and cut them with scissors into pieces as small as possible.
These were covered with 12 litres of cold water and 165 ml of industrial 10% vinegar (15 ml per litre). She let them soak for ½ hour and then used a handheld blender to chop the leaves vigorously for several minutes until the solution became bright green. She strained this liquid through a mesh bag into the dye pot and then made a second water/vinegar solution using the same leaves and 4 litres water and 60 ml vinegar. She used the blender on this mixture, strained the liquid through the mesh bag into the dye pot and then squeezed out any remaining liquid from the bag of leaves into the dye pot.
Yvonne then added 1000 g of wetted out fibre. This included a shawl knitted from Olivia’s fleece, alpaca and silk rovings. These were soaked overnight in the dye bath.
The photo shows the variation of the dye on different fibres. Some alum mordanted fibres that were put into the exhaust dye bath turned a soft yellow green (centre).
Yvonne also grew red, orange and yellow dyer’s marigolds,
and dyer’s snapdragon.
Yvonne gathered 4 ounces of yellow, orange and red marigolds, marguerites and fuchsia snapdragons, using only the flower heads. The fibre dyed was alum mordanted alpaca and silk. She used a process similar to the Japanese indigo – cold water, vinegar and the handheld blender.
Yvonne Stowell and Heather Apple, photos Yvonne