textiles · exploration · misadventure



out the windowI’m housesitting for a friend in Oakland, and it’s heavenly. Each time I do this, I look forward to the luxuries of her home:

Dahlias the size of dinner plates.

Dahlias the size of dinner plates.

Did you know dahlias can be used for dye?

Did you know dahlias can be used for dye?

The sweetest of peas.

The sweetest of peas.

This handsome guy for a companion. He wouldn’t look at me.

This handsome guy for a companion. He wouldn’t look at me.

When I’m here, I always go to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, a king among Stores of Weird Stuff everywhere:
depot (2)

depot (3)

They’re a fantastic art resource for teachers, who specifically get an extra discount. But also for those of us who appreciate digging through the odd to find the spectacular.

They have fabric remnants, oil cloth, yarn, corks, milk cartons, toilet paper tubes, paper supplies, scissors, fabric paints, oil paints, acrylic paints, furniture finishing supplies, sizing, linseed oil, staplers, books, games, toys, and knitting, sewing, embroidery, crochet, and rug-making supplies; all KIND of useful and interesting stuff.

I always find treasure here. Once I showed up after someone cleaned out her dye stores, another time following a major bead destash.

This time, I had spectacular timing for a collection of beautiful old cotton and silk threads that kind of made me lose my mind. I collected all I could find from the thread bin, thinking I’d ask how much they were and cull accordingly. When I was quoted $2 for the lot, well. You know.

Here’s the gang.
threads (2)

threads (3)

I particularly like this icey palette:
threads (1)

And the violets and lavenders are so lovely:
threads (4)
I’ve been reading Clarabella; Claire Wellesley’Smith’s slow stitching and naturally dyed threads are so compelling that I have planned to try some stitching. Finding these beautiful old treasures at the Depot pushed me into overdrive. I should hope so. This is a TON of thread.

I don’t know anything about old threads. I’m not much of a sewist, but I think there’s a ‘yet’ after ‘sewist’. Perhaps what I call treasures are a dime a dozen at any textile flea market. But handling these dusty wooden spools with their peeling, old-school labels and rich, sometimes delicate shades is satisfying to my textile lust. Even the word ‘spool’ is somehow satisfying. Who knew?

Wellesley-Smith writes about textiles as connection to our history and tradition, and finding these spools has made me curious about the entities that created them. I have never heard of them: Monarch, Belding Corticelli, Coates & Clark, Conso, J&P, Star, Clark’s.

Urban Ore, San Pablo Flea Market, and Ohmega Salvage tomorrow. I’m looking particularly for old pots and metals: copper, brass, tin, and iron, to act as mordants for natural dyeing.

Do you do thrift stores and salvage yards? Do you find treasures?
(I’m having computer problems, and am reposting some of my favorite older posts whilst waiting for repairs. This one seems particularly appropriate, as I housesat for this same friend in Oakland again last week, and naturally visited San Pablo Flea Market, Urban Ore, and the Depot for Creative Reuse again. Found LOTS of treasures and am busy playing and taking pictures, so I’ll be back with new material asap!)