Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nature DIY Part 1: Poke Berry Paint and Dye

Poke Berries are a deep purple blackish colored berry growing on the Poke Weed which are totally beautiful and totally poisonous berries. I would not use them for dying clothing, but today I wanted to dye my hemp shower curtain and when I realized it was making an awesome magenta color dye, I made another thicker batch for paint!
This pic above shows you what the Poke Berry looks like, I cut about 10-15 bunches like this to gather enough pigment for the dye.
I was rather lazy about the dying process this time (unlike my last post with plum skins, which I did completely following directions) - I dropped the poke berries in the (not for food) pot, filled up enough water to fit the fabric in, then added about a half cup of kosher salt.
After bringing this concoction to a boil, I let it simmer and set for about 30 minutes (the longer it simmers the better your dye will be). I then added the 100% hemp fabric for my shower curtain to the Poke Berry dye! Check out the rad color!
I then realized this would make a awesome watercolor paint, so I gathered about 7 more bunches of poke berries and added them to the old poke berries from the dye to be boiled again with only a small amount of water. (The hemp fabric & dye had been poured into another bucket.) Now if you are loving the Poke paint, but are like WTF? about my paint brush in the pic above... that is because I made the paint brushes too- which I will tell ya'll about in Part 2 Nature DIY~!!!
Just like traditional watercolors you can get variations of pigment by adding water to the thicker Poke Berry paint, which I tried to illustrate in my quick & somewhat creepy flying shark sperm shaped monster pet with eggs painting. :)
Do you use natural paints? Have you ever experimented with henna or mud painting? Please share your secrets here!


Susie said...

Sheesh, you make me ashamed to say I buy all my paints and brushes. Nontoxic paints of course, watercolors, but talk about raising the bar. If mud counts, I might be able to swing that, we have beautiful red dirt here!

The Oko Box said...

Hey Susie -
That is cool that you paint too! Where do you buy your non toxic art supplies? I wrote a article about an eco art supply store online...
Their stuff looks really non toxic.

Maybe you should sell you red dirt if it works really well! lol

justlovinlarge said...

You both make me yearn to do something with my artistic bends (of which I have several, which i suspect are of minor magnitude. However,I've really came to say that I appreciate your crisp, easily followed direction and beautifully presented photographs. I have pokeberry galore and an enterprising young friend mentioned in passing (through a conversation about the wretchedly uncontrolled growth I call my back yard) that she would like to have some for dye. Of curiousity wanted to see what pokeberry dye was about and I thank you for sharing your knowledge. Now I shall go gather 8-15 bunches of the stuff to present to my friend, in hopes she will still want it.

PS I did not know the berries were poison but had my suspicions. Appreciate the confirmation.

The Oko Box said...

Hey Justlovinlarge!

Thanks so much- my back yard is a beast full of poke berries too- it's cool that you have your yard overgrown though, since it benefits wildlife in your area too :)
Hope your friend makes something with yours, and please send photos of what you both end up making!!!
Being creative on any level is good for our health.

Ruslan said...

Colorful design. I like the pictures very much.

Rachel said...

I'm interested in dying a curtain with poke berries, and I found your post that way. Did the dye stay ok for you? Would it stay after washing the fabric?

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Hey Rachel -
If the curtain gets alot of direct sunlight it *may* effect the color. The color seems to fade in direct sunlight on paper, but paper is entirely different then fabrics.
My suggestion with fabric would be to try it raw - find some way to grind up the poke berries into a liquid without cooking them (maybe a little hand food mill?)
But make sure to add something like salt or vinegar to the fabric and the berries to help it "stay" in the fabric.
I think it would be a great experiment and i say to totally go for it!

alina brate said...

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