August 30, 2009
Returning from a four day journey into the expansive lands surrounding Encampment Wyoming. A landscape dotted with lodgepole pines, cedar, aspen, cascading into sagebrush country- the home of grouse, prairie dog, moose, elk, pronghorn antelope, and bear. We were in search of the plants that yield the colors of the mountains, and surrounding prairies. Our guide and teacher, was an incredibly passionate and dedicated natural dyer of 35 years. She, and her husband and grand-daughter generously shared their home, and lives with us for the duration of our visit.
This is pine bark from an old lodgepole pine that has been killed by the pine beetle. Over 1.5 million acres of forest have been killed by the infestation. So far, there has only been selective clearing of the dead trees, but most remain, orange and red vestiges of a once vibrant and verdant forest. This bark was the source of a dye that we made the following day over a wood fire stove.
This is the old copper pot that our teacher Carol Lee has set up in her backyard. Her dye studio and wood-fire arrangement was inspiring. Her BrownSheep company sells roving, yarns, and fleece. Some of it, the Cotswold- is from sheep living within the region. Carol has a penchant for natural dyeing, her studio is like a scientists lab- shelves filled with jars of colorful water, from this or that mushroom or bark experiment.
Here are some of the outcomes of pine bark, and aspen leaves.
Here is the Mt. Mahogany and Madder root experiments. I am so pleased with these colors!
Here is Wooly Boy, the outdoor cat, that desperately would like to be let indoors. He settles for time in the wool studio, hence his name. He loves rolling around on skeins. This madder root and sage skein inspired lots of rubbing and stretching kitty attention.
On our way back to Denver, we took highway 130 to Laramie Wyoming, driving through exquisite landscapes, that I hope to return to, and re-visit with a little more time someday soon. So much beauty in the West, so much more to explore. It was my first time in this awe inspiring region. Thank you mountains, water, and beautifully clean air- I’ll be seeing you again.