I've been doing a little woodworking this week, mostly making brooch bases and necklaces. I'm digging into some of the chokecherry wood I cut last year and some of the cedar my friend Lynn sent me when she pruned her trees.
I love the colors in these woods but the chokecherry especially is prone to checking (cracking). Checking isn't usually a problem when making small pieces like I am, but when you have wood this pretty you don't want to lose a single piece of it. I cut most of my pieces running with the grain which helps, but sometimes I can't resist trying to get a slice showing off that center grain.
Above, you can see I'm holding a piece of chokecherry that's been sanded and oiled. It's so pretty! But, it cracked, as fruit wood is prone to. I had read that some wood turners boil their bowl blanks for an hour then dry it in a paper bag to reduce checking. I figured it was worth a try, and put a number of chunks of wood in my enamel pot and boiled them.
The boiling cherry and cedar wood lent a rather "mulchy" smell to my house, with rabbit cage undertones. As unappealing as that may sound, it's nothing compared to some of the aromas I've filled this house with while dyeing.
After they were done boiling, I removed the wood pieces and was left with a pot of water that looked like tea. I have previously used chokecherry bark to dye with and had gotten a lovely buckskin color. I figured I'd see if this "wood tea" mixture had dyeing potential. I tossed some silk, organic cotton, and wool in the pot and let it sit overnight.
I pulled the fibers out of the pot this morning and was shocked to see so much color. The wool (mordanted with alum) was a bright golden yellow. The cotton fabric and silk were coppery in hue, much like the cedar itself. Once dipped in an iron overdip, both the cotton and silk faded in color, moving towards tan.
I'm thinking that the cedar was largely responsible for the yellow color, so I'll try a bath of just cedar to see. (more rabbit cage undertones, coming my way)
I love a good dyeing surprise.
Have a great weekend, everyone!