For my Full Moon Ritual this past week I did a natural dye for fabric. I dyed silk organza over an open fire in my iron cauldron. The iron from the cauldron acts as the mordent but I added in one rusty nail for a little extra color. For the dye bundle, I used Sumac. There is a poisonous and a non-poisonous sumac plant. The non-poisonous one grows tall and has red cones. You may see it along the highway when you're driving.
I picked this Sumac over the Summer and had it saved in my freezer. I've found that some plants lose dye color potency when they're frozen. So I added a bit extra to the bundle in hopes of still getting a deep dye color on my silk.
Sumac is related to the element of fire and creates balance while releasing a wild energy. It felt like a good balance dyeing over the fire while surrounded by the remaining snow in my yard. It was chilly but the sun was shining which doesn't happen that often in the Fingerlakes this time of year. My partner helped start the fire, using white birch from a tree we took down in the yard this summer.
All of the elements were represented as the wind gently blew the smoke around. I love waking up to the smell of campfire in my hair so the wind was welcome. My curious kitties stayed in the house this time but had a lot to say about me leaving them inside on their own. Familiars often have quite the opinion on our whereabouts.
After the sumac simmered for about an hour, I added the silk organza. There would be enough for a Kaftan, which was already spoken for, and an Altar Cloth. Dyeing for specific pieces gives me a way to direct the energy during a Ritual. Now the silk will simmer in the cauldron for hours while we tend the fire. It's an all day affair and I love catching whiffs of the smoke seeping in through the windows when we head inside.
Once dark falls, I'll bring the cauldron up to the porch to hang out in the moonlight til I head to bed. This time I know the temp might drop below freezing so I'll bring everything down into the studio. The dye has really deepened, way more then I was expecting since the last couple of dyes using frozen plants were a underwhelming in terms of color. This one though, has given the silk quite the transformation.
In the morning I'll rinse things out and put the silk into the dryer for a few minutes. This next part is one of my favorites, ironing. While ironing out the silk I get to really look at the color and any variations or patterns the sumac may have left. The dusty violet is also one of my favorite colors to dye. This dye bath has been a huge success and I take a quick moment to thank the Full Moon.
Next up is the New Moon and the Spring Equinox. I'm looking forward to some new pieces and ideas to share.
The video below shows the entire process