The Horse’s Tail
July 2, 2009
This primordial plant has always mystified me, as it’s origins predate every seeding plant on the planet. It has been around for 400 million years. If only it could tell the rich and incredible story of its time here on earth! This dye process was an attempt to unearth the secrets that lie within its hollow stock, and soft spines.
While harvesting horsetail, I noticed its rough ridges, and delicate spines, I could almost see in this small stalk the once tall tree-like ancestor it came from. For thousands of years, humans used horsetail as sand paper, and likely it was used medicinally. Its mineral content is high, and is most well known for healing urinary tract infections. When you find a stand of horsetail, it is generally quite large, it grows like a ground cover when it finds an area it likes, which is generally seasonally wet sandy soils. It can pop up like a forest, of light and airy stalks, leaving little room for anything else to grow.
Like its unique status among plants, it is no wonder it yields the most unique and unexpected color imaginable. A light rose, emerged from the steaming dye vat, after several days of preparation. The wool skeins pictured were both locally sourced. I handspun the chunky yarn from wool purchased at Windrush farm in the Chileno Valley. This color will look incredible with the other plant dyed colors I’ve been preparing for this season’s summer eco-couture designs.
Along the road where I went to photograph the yarns amongst the horsetail, I stopped by this organic roadside farm. I was quite happy to see those tending the small field had all ridden their bicycles to work that day. Beautiful to see the tended and farmed landscape set against the open coastal hillsides. Looking forward to sharing more eco-color with you as it emerges from the dye vats. In the meantime, drop me a comment about your experiences in the wild- do you tend it, observe it, receive inspiration from it?