mercredi 5 octobre 2011

The Fruits of Fall

I'm always on the lookout for new plants and I often find myself stopping on the side of the road to investigate trees.  I've noticed a few "wild" fruit trees in the area and managed to bring a branch home from one of them.  The fruits are about the size of a crab apple and have a soft red blush on one side.

Service berries
 I've identified the tree as a service berry tree (Cormier, in French).  It is, in fact, not a wild tree.  Someone must have planted it a long time ago.  It's an old fashioned fruit tree.  Most people don't know about it.  It's actually a protected species in certain European countries.  The fruit can be used for jam making, but only after they've been bletted.  I'll go back and pick some before the first frosts.

Service berry leaf.
Most fruit trees give good dye color.  I've noticed that leaves that retain a lot of color after they've been dried are often a good source of dye. 
I decided to do a couple of test pots with some other odds and ends that I'd picked up on a walk with the kids.  The other pots were, Cornelian cherries, laurel leaves, lichen, and the leaves from the service berry tree.

Clockwise starting at top left:Cornelian cherries, laurel leaves, Service berry leaves, lichen "peltigera canina"
The berries stained the wool a nice shade of pink.  I doubt that the color will be light fast, but I do remember reading somewhere that some part of the cornelian cherry was used to dye the traditional Fez, red.  Maybe this was done with the bark or the roots.  The lichen "peltigera canina" didn't produce any color at all, which is odd, because this particular lichen is supposed to produce a yellow tan, possibly a soft pink with ammonia.  Maybe I didn't cook it long enough.  I did send it for a spin in the microwave, but that didn't seem to do anything.

Left to Right:Service berries, Service berry leaf test, laurel leaf test, Cornelian cherry test
The laurel leaves produced a soft yellow, but the service berry leaves dyed the wool a very bright shade of yellow.  The leaves are an interesting shape and should work well for leaf impressions.  I'd like to do a test with my copper pot.  Maybe they'll make a good green.  All of my samples were mordanted with alum and processed in glass jars with tap water.
I'll leave you with a photo that I took of a pear.  The colors reminded me of my test samples.  I'd love to dye a skein of sock wool with these soft Fall colors.

A Fall pear

3 commentaires:

  1. I just left a message but it seems to have disappeard? Well, anyway... really exciting experiments you are doing there! Now I wish more than ever, we had more fruit-trees here in Iceland! :-) But we do have a lot of different lichen, that gives beautiful colours - my favorite one gives many different shades of brown.

  2. We have a lot of lichens here too. I'm looking forward to doing more extensive tests with them.

  3. Dear Julienne, I'm a French designer and I'm very impressed by your work! Could we talk by mail? Send me a message at
    Thanks a lot!