I’ve been cooking lately. Nothing in the kitchen, much to my love’s chagrin, but on the driveway. One hot plate, a big, black enamel pot and tons of empty plastic jugs and bottles have been my equipment.
First I stuffed the pot with bamboo leaves and snippets. I had harvested some bamboo from a weaving friend who has a very healthy stand growing in her side yard in town. At least it was in her side yard as of a couple days ago – not sure where it might have traveled by now! A lovely yellow tint to the bark – obviously a yellow bamboo? – with 16-18 foot heights – that I wanted to try to work into an orb for the exhibit at IAC in August.
Round and bamboo do not go together. Yes, I know there are ways to make bamboo very wonderful to use; I was interested in using it whole. It crinks and cracks so very willingly when you bend it. I did manage to get about 6-5 pieces in some semblance of roundness, tied together with pink rug yarn/string. I will most likely take the thing apart in a couple days and throw it away after salvaging some of the slender bits.
I had picked some smaller bamboo, too, mostly to help clean her flower bed a bit but also with the thought of making paper pulp. Wound up putting some stalk bits into the pot which I have since regretted and have been painstakingly removing. They cooked up well, or as well as I can tell, and have been drained, rinsed well and are in the process of being sorted (to pull out the heavier bits). I did try blending some for pulp – the wonderful long fibers seem to clump together a lot and are heavy, sinking to the bottom of the vat quickly. A small dose of cotton linters in the vat helped a lot! By and large, the resulting sheets of paper are pretty good. Now to finish the picking-through-the-leaves and get the bag of good parts into the freezer for another day.
The remaining juice was too tempting – a lovely yellowish green. So, some cotton/linen scraps I had went into baggies, fully wetted with the bamboo juice. We’ll see what two weeks in the juice will do.
The other cooking project was just as tasty – oak bark from a downed tree at a friend’s home. There is a lot of red in the dry bark, so the assumption was the tannin extracted would also be reddish. And I’ve heard that oak galls are loaded with tannin, soooooo…..
It certainly does produce a deep reddish juice and also seems to react more strongly with alum. I pulled out some of my mordanted cloths (alum and tannin) that I have ready and waiting for mud dyeing and dipped some just once, some two times and the remaining ones three times. Barbara from the Mali trip tried some the other day and when she put her mud on – zappo, there was the color! I’m eager to achieve the same results and then to modify the process to keep it from bleeding out past where the mud sits.
The liquid results of my labors are sitting in previously used and washed orange juice and water bottles. Sort of pretty all lined up with the sun shining through them…