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Colors from Nature: Eco-dyeing from the NC backroads.

A gorgeous day, car windows down and a back road in North Carolina. It really doesn’t get much better than that!   With my artist hubby Steve in the passenger seat, we explored yet another favorite back road. This time, we were searching for particular leaves, flowers and berries to collect for my eco-dyeing with silk scarves. Just as the roadsides are awash in June with wild Queen Anne’s lace and orange Tiger lilies, in September and October they are replaced with wild Helianthus or vivid yellow sunflowers and a multitude of plants as yet untouched by the color change .  Our mini farm has most of them  but we love the fun of looking!  The same roads change by the season and this month we were in search of Nature’s early fall bounty.

Pure Spring water

Our Quest took us into Virginia where we stopped to collect the pure spring waters of the once famous Buffalo Springs Resort. Known to the Indians, then gathering fame with the Colonialists, it reached its peak of fame in the late 1800’s as a curative water for whatever ails you! Now owned by the US Park Service, it’s vast array of buildings are gone, leaving nothing but a gazebo, the always available “Lithia” water and its ghosts of the past. A fascinating history of this place can be read here:

Collecting water from Buffalo Springs

We searched and collected just what we needed and were going to experiment with such as grasses, tobacco leaves and flowers, assorted leaves from oaks, maples and poplars as well as wild sumac. The leaves have not yet turned to their brilliant fall colors-that’s for another trip!

Collecting wildflowers

Hubby helping to gather a few flowers for dyeing

I’m getting ready for the 11 day North Carolina State Fair where I will be the silk artist in the Village of Yesteryear-a community of craftsmen and women.

Read more here: Eco-dyeing is a is time consuming labor of love! This year’s public at the NCSF will see my first series of eco-dyed scarves along with my hand painted and dyed silk designs. I love the subtle patterns left by nature. With the exception of the beautiful reds of the cochineal bug that has been cultivated in South America for centuries (and can be found here in NC), most of the natural colors are softer and less vivid. Eco-dyeing is best done when the artist can enjoy the process from its very beginning of gathering fallen leaves and berries to it’s very end with the slow unwrapping of the silks and the delight of surprise results of colors and patterns!

And finally, after I shared this post, we went to an estate sale of the contents of an old Victorian house and found not one, but two, intact gallons of Buffalo Springs water in the basement (with the 1902 work desk from the old dentist who occupied the home in the 1920’s) What a find for us! Enlarged so you can read the writing!

A turn of the century gallon of water from Buffalo Springs

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