textiles · exploration · misadventure


Eucalyptus Strangers

Stoneman Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus leaf on wool, wrapped and steamed, left alone with great difficulty for two weeks.

Stoneman Eucalyptus Detail

title="Stoneman Eucalyptus Detail"

title="Stoneman Eucalyptus Detail"

for the blog (30)

When I was a kid, my dad and his best friend, our neighbor Dan Newton, Teri’s dad, hung a tire in the eucalyptus in our back yard. The entire neighborhood came to play on that tire. Sometimes there were kids playing on that tire that we didn’t even know. Strangers.

We played that tree nearly to death. We’d climb up to the roof of the fort next to it, and jump off the roof hanging onto that tire swing. We’d climb up the back of the fort, over the trash bins, to the first big notch of branches that we could reach, and jump off of that too. My sister Wendy even had the guts one time to jump off the roof of the garage. Not me. I’m a chicken liver.

We peeled the bark off that tree; we gouged its meat with hammers; we ripped branches right off and used them to build forts with lawn chairs and blankets on the deck. We piled up the leaves and flowers inside, and nested in them.

You have to steam these eucalyptus bundles for three hours to encourage the formation of the orange dye.

My house smelled like my childhood.

For days.

While I was making these, I could see Teri Newton leaping off the roof of the fort and shouting, “Geronimo!” I can hear the sound of her pants ripping half off her ass when they caught on that nail. I can hear how loud and long we laughed about it together.

While I was making these, I could see Wendy, feet first, hair last, leaping off the garage roof. I see it in slow motion. I see momentary panic, but then, even more, the joy and glee on her face. It is a thrill to watch my sister be so brave.

Not surprising I wanted to try to dye with this plant.

This was my first go at printing on wool, and it was drool city when I opened these up. Here are some long shots (they look nicer now that they’re washed and ironed, but it’s too dark for a good picture right now):

Eucalyptus Longshots

The left one is my first one. The dark bar across the middle appeared where the bundle rested on a metal steamer basket whilst steaming. It must have had some iron content, which turned part of the fabric blackish. I wish it wasn’t there, but truth is, I like it anyway.

On the right is my second go. I wrapped this one in plastic wrap to prevent the black mark, but it’s not as orange as the first one. I did lose track of my timing and open it too soon, which could be the cause, or it could have been the plastic wrap. I s’pose more experimentation is in order.

I’m really happy with these, and considering what I will make with them that will enhance their bond with my childhood… but their buddies? The cotton I did at the same time? Unmordanted, because eucalyptus is supposed to be self-mordanting? Silly me.