Alice Fox winter blossom


My kitchen has been filled with the most beautiful fragrance this past week.  I brought a couple of twigs back from my parents’ garden (Viburnum, I now know) and they have these delicate pink and white flowers on them, a bit raggle tangle and scruffy, but gorgeous with it.  They have been quite a focus this week and their perfume has been such an antidote to the grey damp weather outside the house.

In a pink frame of mind I made the most of a load of avocados that needed eating and used their skin and pits to dye some strips of paper and fabric.  Again, this was a creative antidote to the period of relative inactivity over Christmas.  I didn’t want to just dye the strips, I wanted to make lines along them.  I am more concerned with mark and changes in quality of the dyed mark than getting an all-over colour.

Alice Fox avacado skin & pit dyed strips lined up

The skewers were to help my little tubes stand up in the dye bath.  Once dyed I enjoyed playing about with the arrangement of the bundles.  They stood up beautifully and had an almost ceramic quality to the forms (reminded me a little of Edmund de Waal’s lined up pots).

Alice Fox avacado skin & pit dyed strips from above

There was a playfulness to the process, which I enjoyed.  The kitchen table was experiencing quite a lot of playfulness at the time – look carefully and you’ll find a stork sitting on top of a crocodile: part of my son’s and my drawing project over the holidays.

Alice Fox avacado skin & pit dyed strips

The rolls are still drying out.  I’m looking forward to opening them up once they’ve properly done so.


22 thoughts on “antidote

  1. The rolls are striking just as they are! Please share photos once they’re dry and all stretched out. Avocado? Who would have thought? Just curious…once the aromatic flowers have lost their scent, will they too become materials for the dye pot?

    • Hi Debbie. I was using a metal bowl that I usually use for dyeing so there was probably some pot mordanting going on. I also had an aluminium can in there for a bit. I’m not very scientific with such things.

  2. Thanks Alice, I am a complete novice at dyeing but had some quite good results from leaf prints on paper just before Christmas so want to do some more. Its such fun undoing the bundles, though sometimes disappointing.

  3. The dyed rools do look good on their own. Thanks for the mentioning of de Waal. I wasn’t aware that he wrote a book about B. Leach.
    Your wonderful book is on permanent display on our sideboard in the living room. Everyone looks at it and loves it.
    Have a great weekend,

    • It is viburnum and I thought that was the case but wanted to check before publishing it. There is still a little perfume even though it is pretty much over.

  4. I’m fascinated that you’ve got pink out of avocado. I used avocado skin around fabric, and put it into my compost for 3 months….it came out blotchy brown marks. Certainly not the pink I’d been informed about, or the pink result you’ve got. I’ll try again in the summer, when hopefully the compost heap will generate more heat. Might make a difference?

    • Hi Jan. I suspect you’re getting more than just the avocado working in your compost heap. This was just skins and the pit, both cut up quite small. I soaked the pieces in boiled water over night before using the dye bath. Some bits are more pink than others and to be honest I wasn’t sure whether I’d actually get pink or brown so I was pleasantly surprised. Good luck with the compost heap!

    • Yep; there were worms working in there too! But thanks for the tips. Next time I get an avocado, I’ll have a go using it in the way you suggest. It’s great how they all come out different though, isn’t it. All quite magical. I liken it to an alchemist’s kitchen!

  5. Hi Alice: WonderfulWonderful !!! I love your little rolled-up bundles they’re very sweet and the color(s) are fabulous : ) I dye with avocado too and mostly get, are you ready?, ORANGE !! isn’t that coool that different water, air, temp, etc., will produce such varried colors?? that is what I love sooo much about natural plant dyeing. Can’t wait to see your mark making on these cuties : ) Ohhhh – HAPPPY MERRY NEW YEAR !!!!
    Blessings, Sandra in AZ, USA : )

  6. Hi Again – sorrry, forgot to ask you what type of paper do you use to dye with ?? I am currently on a rust binge and have tried 90# watercolor paper, it is coming out rather interesting what is happening but wanted to ask what type/weight you use ??
    Blessings, Sandra in AZ, USA : )

    • Hi Sandra. Lovely to hear from you and about your orange avocados! I once stayed at a place in New Zealand which had an avocado tree and I often think that would be amazing to have them in such supply, for eating and everything else. Anyway, the paper I used for these was just good thick (220g) cartridge paper that I use for testing prints on. I use Fabriano 220g printing paper for good prints, including rust prints and my concertina books. Alice

  7. Had our Wassail yesterday – red was the theme – have been inspired by your lovely fabric ‘pots’ thinking of using up the little bit of cranberry relish that was left to see what happens! The raw relish is made my chopping the berries with orange and lemon slices and adding dried fruit to sweeten it slightly…hope the dyeing results in an equally tasty result!
    All the best for your adventures in 2013

  8. Pingback: avacado rolls | alice fox

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.