This weekend is full of holidays: today marks the summer Solstice (as well as Father’s Day, honoring dads and father figures; following yesterday’s Juneteenth, commemorating the emancipation of African Americans). On this longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, and we enjoy the shortest night. Also known as midsummer, or the beginning of summer depending on where you are, this holiday traditionally celebrates the height of the growing season. Crops are treated to the greatest amount of daylight, which plants harness using photosynthesis to convert into chemical energy in the form of carbohydrates. Plants, through this amazing process produce oxygen, supplying most of the energy necessary for life on Earth.
Fibershed, a growing global network of sustainable fiber farmers and producers, taught me through classes that, along with helping us breathe and feeding us, plants supply gorgeous natural coloring that’s perfect for all kinds of dye projects. Easily available and often free and waiting to be gathered, these are also free of the many toxins present in chemical dyes (although some plants should be used with caution) – which taint most of what we wear and touch, every day.
This weekend especially, I think of my father, who so loved nature and, like me, due to his shy and introverted nature felt most comfortable in the great outdoors. I think of him when I sow seeds in the garden, when hiking in the wilderness, and when creating gorgeous and unique fabrics to wear and use at home. Gratitude fills my heart for his love, for where we live, and the incredible bounty we share with nature.
(purple cabbage boiling in the dye pot)
(T-shirts dyed with purple cabbage; left was light blue, right was white)
(turmeric dye: turmeric mixed with water)
(oxalis [clover] dye heating in the sun)
(T-shirt dyed with oxalis)
(above: T-shirt and embroidered cloth dyed with oxalis)
(below: embroidered cloth dyed with maple leaves, with iron tincture added)