Monday, September 7, 2009

The Kowhai Experiment


Kowhai means Yellow in Maori and the Kowhai is native to NZ. At this time of year there is yellow everywhere and Tui birds galore. I was at turning point the other day setting the loom when I suddenly had a light bulb moment! As you can see the Kowhai is a brilliant shade of yellow and I decided to see if I could capture some of that by making a dye from the flowers. For the record, Kowhai are a protected species so I only used fallen flowers. I kinda like the sound of "Fallen Kowhai Dye" anyway:) So, as soon as I finished the loom I went back to Yatton Park (where I found the nest) and picked up as many fresh looking flowers as I could find. I must have used a good 50 or so. Not knowing any better I decided to treat the Kowhai like Marigolds. I pulled the petals and stamens from the flowers then boiled the whole lot for 10 minutes. After straining it this is what I got....
It looks a little like another fluid I shall not mention and smelt a bit like silverbeet! None the less I had a lovely golden liquid to soak my paper pulp in. The pulp being white inevitably diluted the strength of the resulting colour but I was surprised at how much so! Marigold dye still stays a strong yellow (from orange flowers) when mixed with pulp. I was committed to my experiment though and continued on with it anyway.


The resulting paper wasn't exactly Yellow! It's a warm cream with a slight lean in the direction of brown! The water that was left in the vat after all my pulp was out was still slightly yellow but it didn't transfer itself to the paper as willingly as Marigold. I wonder if I need some sort if fixative? Natural of course.This experiment shall continue!

It's my friends birthday soon so I made her a Van Gogh note book. 4 signatures half the size of an A4...that's A2 right? It was actually harder to make than the bigger book but it came out ok after a bit of extra fiddling about. I used Van Gogh greeting cards to make the cover.


The book with white pages on the not quite white, warm cream Kowhai paper.

I acquired some more feathers yesterday! My dh actually plucked black and blue feathers from a 'just dead' roadkill pukeko he saw on the road. It had just been hit so he pulled over his motorbike, moved the bird and bought me home feathers! 10 outa 10 to him I say!

7 comments:

Poetic Artist said...

How I love hand made paper..I have a friend we try different plants and sometimes it is amazing the color and then there are times not so much..The joy of experimenting.

The Green Stone Woman said...

I quite like the color of the paper and can easily see it made into a book. The van Gogh book is great, What a nice surprise.I've been picking up feathers too when I walk the dog. Not as exotic as yours, I'm sure though.

John said...

Fallen Kowhai Dye - genius....

the roadkill pukeko dyed too

Anonymous said...

OK, if my wife reads this she might want me to rip the fur off the next squirrel we hit.

Mick said...

I'm following all of this with great interest, Lisa!

ArtPropelled said...

Well, I like the Fallen Kowhai paper. It's a lovely natural colour. Love the feather pages in the last post too.
Our dh's can be pretty helpful at times. Mine plucked quills from a dead (and rather smelly) porcupine.

Anonymous said...

"It looks a little like another fluid I shall not mention."

Not enough bubbles for beer, mum.