Rebekah's creative energy is contagious and I love that her colorful spirit leaves room for what she's coined 'loose science'. And that's exactly how she approaches life - making the best of whatever she's got to work with, always leaving plenty of room for spontaneous play. She applies loose science in the kitchen - I've seen her make gluten free cookies out of seemingly thin air - a bit of rice she ground up, some shredded coconut, an egg, some sugar, I don't even know, it was a blur. There is beauty in the singularity of her work and she applies it in her natural dye technique as well.
Oxalis stricta, commonly known as sour grass, is rampant in northern California in the early spring. I remember it fondly as one of maybe two edible plants I knew about growing up in San Francisco. It was like a magic trick with visitors - try this! And then watch their face twist up - it's very sour in flavor, hence the name. Growing up, I didn't know it could also be used as a natural dye. But it turns out, the electric yellow dye it makes matches the brilliant yellow of Oxalis flowers that seem to hold the color of the sun in their petals.
Harvest & Dye
The night before you plan on dying, soak your fabrics in water overnight.
A few yards of organza silk
Large basket of sour grass
1/2 cup Alum Salt
1 tbsp. Cream of Tartar
Boil a lobster pot of water on an outdoor range. It's not good to do this inside, it gets very hot and steamy and it's not good to breathe in the steam once the Alum Salt and Cream of Tartar go in.
Add sour grass to the pot and let it brew, covered on a low flame for at least 20 minutes.
Add Alum Salt and Cream of Tartar, give a stir and see the hue brighten.
Continue to cook the dye until you get the color you want. Strain out the plant matter.
Ring out your soaked fabrics and place them into the dye pot.
Leave them for at least an hour or until they've reached the color you want, could let them sit overnight.
Rinse fabric with soap and water and hang to dry.