textiles · exploration · misadventure

Ready, Set


bike at building resourcesI’ve been gathering materials for weeks. A swift bike ride to Building Resources, yet one more salvage yard, yielded the final pieces needed to begin: a little more copper scrap to add to that my mother gave me (thanks, MOM!) and a few pieces of iron to add to my rusty pan.

Building Resources is like Urban Ore, smaller, but closer nearby. Same kind of thing, doors, windows, lighting and fixtures, bathtubs, toilets…
PicMonkey CollagePicMonkey Collage 2

copper scrap
…and scrap metal.
I knew who I needed to talk to in order to find the copper: Archie.
ArchieThis is Archie. He’s been working at Building Resources for at least eight years, almost as long as I’ve been going there. I thought he’d be the *dude to talk to, and he was. He found me my copper (two old doorplates, not pictured here) introduced me to the dude below, left, and I was on my way home to start the plan.

Pretty much the only fish of size left, after the raccoons moved in.

Pretty much the only fish of size left, after the raccoons moved in.

The plan is many layered. The plan is long. An exercise in perseverance, for sure.

When I got home, I filled the brass pot, a stainless steel pot, and the rusty pan with water and a dash of vinegar. I added the copper to the stainless pot, the rusty iron to the iron pan. I filled a jar with water, alum, and cream of tartar according to a recipe in a dye book.

What this means is that I have four separate mordants to experiment with. Using the same dye stock, a mordant can change the final color of the dyed textile, and will also make it light- and wash-fast.

095Next, I created eighteen yarn samples from of my own handspun. This is wool from white Cormo, a breed of sheep known for its buttery softness and fine crimp.

After a few hours soaking in plain water, the yarn went into the pots and jar to soak for a few days. In the meantime, I’ll prepare the Bougainvillea dye from the plants that grow luxuriously on both my front and back porch.

At top, copper mordant.
Right: iron mordant.
Bottom: brass mordant
Left: the start of some bougainvillea dye

Next up: preparation of bougainvillea and rosemary dyes. Yarn into dye!

*On the word dude: I grew up in a small, Southern California beach town. We summered at the beach, all day long, and ‘surfer’ was a way of life, not a brand. The diction stuck, and there’s nothing I can do about it, so you are going to see ‘dude’ here from time to time. It just feels right.

11 thoughts on “Ready, Set

  1. Such creativity and artistry! I’m truly impressed with all you do. What will you be making the homespun yarn into? Just curious… 🙂


  2. Awesome post. I am enjoying this journey of yours.


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  4. Dude! I’m so into the mordants! The yarn they make is amazingly beautiful. CAN’T WAIT for the bougenvilla yarn. Dude, I can’t spell that word! It would go nicely with my bison fur, hee hee hee.


    • Hey, sis! The mordants are cool, right?! Matty and I are at Jim’s house on the Lost Coast, near the road in that the locals call the “Wildcat”. It’s beautiful here. My agenda today is to dig up the invasive dockweed in Jim’s garden. It’s a dye plant. Huzzah!


      • Awesome, kill two birds with one stone! I’m home from Belize, wish I was still there. Can’t wait to share pics!


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