Saturday, August 21, 2010


Well today was an eventful day at our house! Jeremy and I harvested some of our sunflowers (the ones that have dark, non-stripey seeds) for a beautiful dye that he made. The seed dye is a traditional Hopi Native American dye. It yields a beautiful purple that was used to dye baskets and fibers. We are not huge purple fans but this color is really pretty. And its really funny to watch someone boil an entire 
sunflower head... very dramatic!


Meanwhile, I sat on the back porch working on my wood sculptures for my upcoming show at Cinders. This summer I have been trying to teach myself how to carve wood, which has been really awesome, but I guess, statistically speaking, I was up for an injury! I pushed my knife gouge right through one of the little dude's noses and straight into my thumb. J took me to the emergency room and two stitches and a tetanus shot later I am ready to finish carving and fix that nose! 

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Summer is not over yet...but some projects that we have been working on this summer have come to a halt.  This summer I have made two paipo body boards, a new non-traditional alaia, some body surfing paddles.  I was fortunate enough to find some pre-joined paulownia at Redbrook Lumber in Cville for relatively cheap. It was really a pleasure to work with the sustainable yet invasive paulownia and it is really light and easy to carve with the hand tools. I cannot wait to see how these things ride.

We also spent a long time growing and cultivating the small harvest of safflower plants for dye and oil seed. We realized through this experiment that it is necesary to grow a larger crop to increase the pigment & oil yeild. We grew about 40 plants and we only got a Quarter to an Eighth oz. of each. It would be worth much more if it was weed. It will make us a small batch of oil and pigment.  Although we both feel that the labor in both growing and hand cultivating the thorny safflower plants may not be worth all of the hard work considering the seed and petals are cheap on the market. Although it has to get flown in from canada or india and that is not very ecological on our behalf... but I guess it is better than supporting petroleum based dyes.

Another project Allyson had going on was her margiold dying frenzy. We got so stoked on that dye this summer. She decided to dye these cheap canvas shoes. What a beautiful canary yellow!


Last but not least our molting horn beautiful that we relocated it instead of killing it.  Man organic gardening can be brutal with the killing of insects:(  I do not feel vegetarian friendly at times.  After we released it we wished we had kept him inside and fed him tomato leaves till he molted into the infamous hawk moth...they are so beautiful. Hopefully some more stuff on the way! Stay tuned! ~j

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lovey Dovey

We just went to a rummage sale to pick up a $5 parts bike for J and saw some very sad birds. The little old lady who lived there had an entire bedroom with wall to wall birdcages and wall to wall poo. One white dove was particularly emaciated... so we bought her for $5. :( We can't have birds in our house so she is in a large cage on our back porch. Does anybody want a dove, or know of some one who might, or a rescue? This was too sad to pass up. Its a very tame beautiful bird, you can pick it up and feed it by hand. 

I also want to add that the bird rescues within driving distance are not for doves, the SPCA and wildlife refuge will not take pet birds. Unfortunately people hunt doves in Virginia... so I have not been able to find a dove rescue. Anyhow, if you are interested or know someone who might be, send me a message! Here are some photos of her majesty:
She is very, very tame!

Maybe too tame... she made herself right at home while I cleaned up her cage a bit.

Mostly she just hung out on my knee and watched me. 
Somebody adopt her!!! We need to get her a home ASAP!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Purple Martin Gourds

Here are the gourd birdhouses I mentioned. We made them so that hopefully Purple Martins or Swallows will come play in our garden! We have a lot of little buddies who eat our sunflower seeds, so hopefully thats like advertising for birds... Anyhow, here they are, we each decorated one.

I almost forgot to mention: It is tomato time!!! 
xoxox & happy anniversary again! :)

Something to celebrate

Last week Jeremy and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. We decided to do some projects together to celebrate. The first one involved our Marigolds. We used them to dye some scarves we made and then we silkscreened them! The second one involved making gourd birdhouses for our garden!
Here are pictures from the scarves first!
So this is about 2lbs of marigold from our garden, picked when they are just showing signs of wilting and/or wilting.

If you don't like the smell of marigolds, you should do this outside. Actually, I do like the smell of marigolds and I still recommend doing this outside... it produces a big old smell cloud!  Add enough water to cover (about half of the pot) and boil!
Here we are adding our cotton to the boiling bath!

Right before adding the fabric we added our alum and thats when you can really see the yellow developing and becoming more opaque. This needs to cook for at least an hour for the dye to really set in.

The smell finally got to us! Here it is outside all cooked and ready for rinsing. That white band on the top is some underwear we tried to experimentally dye. (it worked and is adorable)

We were stoked! Wow its yellow! Even brighter than we thought it would be!
Here is the finished product:

Inside the circles drawn by Jeremy it says, "J L A" Jeremy Loves Allyson or vice-versa for our 7 year anniversary! I feel so lucky that I found this man in the world and I get to share everything with him.

I also printed a stars screen on the back of mine! :)

Is your cat a jerk? We should start a support group! This is fricky "helping" us cut the fabric for our project. She is lucky she is so cute.
Okay, birdhouses are next! As you may have noticed, we tried to stretch our anniversary celebration as far as possible. The week before our anniversary someone asked us if we were newly-weds and it was such a huge compliment that we seemed so! More soon, Allyson