Dying Silks Under the Black Walnut Tree

Lisette Root 2012

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Two weeks or so ago I decided to do a project I had dreamed about through the long winter, dyeing silk ribbons under the walnut tree! So, I started gathering up my supplies, and looked forward to a day of dyeing silks. I used fiber reactive instant dyes, which I highly recommend, because it is truly instant gratification. Well, it wasn't too long before I realized that this was going to be really fun, but then the project took on a life of its own! I dyed nearly every bit of white silk ribbon to my name, and I didn't want the fun to end. I used all the silk ribbons I had from my thrift store finds, beautiful blouses I had made into ribbons, and so I had a wonderful time over-dyeing! After I dyed all the ribbons I could find, I still had some dyes left, and then I remembered I had a box of white wool roving tucked away, which I had purchased to us as doll hair. Well, it was irresistible, I had to dye it all, except for one little handful which I kept white.

I had a wonderful time dyeing the wool roving, and I want to do more of that! I discovered that the wool takes a while to dry, overnight actually, outside under the walnut tree. So, naturally, after I dyed the wool, I had to play with all the beautiful colors. I have needle felting tools, and I decided to drag them out and play with my newly dyed pretties. I thought I would try something I had been thinking about, making a little "fairy bag" which is a sweet little purse. I needed to try a few things before I started, and I had to test out an idea using flocked velvet as the base of the purse; it turned out so pretty! I needle felted the colorful wool into (on to) the flocked velvet, and it was magical! I have so many ideas to play with in the future using this technique. I decided to try something using glitter and tulle; I sprinkled on the glitter right onto the needle felting, and then I laid a piece of tulle over the whole front. I took small pieces of wool roving and felted right over the tulle, and it looks quite pretty. It gave me more ideas for the future.

So, after needle felting the front and back purse fabric, I had a lovely background to play with, and to use some of those newly dyed silk ribbons on. On the front of the purse I created a simple flower composition, pink silk roses and yellow fuchsia blossoms, and a soft feather accent. After I was happy with the composition, I created a yellow satin interior for the purse, fashioned a strap of silk, and hand sewed the ribbon inside the bag. It is a nice little bag, and I think all the little girls in my life will be receiving one for Christmas! Actually, I think it could be fun to design Halloween goodie bags for the little tricksters, and Christmas stockings too. I had so much fun, and truly learned so much! I do hope you will give dyeing a try, you will most likely enjoy it every bit as much as I did. If you have not tried needle felting yet, give it a try; there are endless ways to play with fibers!

I used "Colorhue" Dye Samplers which I purchased from www.silkthings.com, and you can check out the dyes at www.colorhuedyes.com as well. I also purchased pure white silk ribbons from the same source.

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