Wednesday, January 2, 2013

withches brew - black nightshade

I started this year with preparing for a withces brew... Some black nightshade plants had gone under my radar hiding beneath the feijoa bushes. Now the plants were tall and the berries ripe for picking. Yes! Let me explain.
I found a book on natural dyes at the Founders book fair some months ago. I was browsing through it with the intention that I might discover something new that I have easy access to. I was quite sceptical when I spotted Black Nighshade (Solanum nigrum) berries among sources for purple. It is generally considered poisonous, not as dangerously so as Deadly Nighshade, but not one to mess around with. It's also a nuisance in gardens as it self seeds so readily, as the ripe berries fall when you disturb the plant.  
I had just discovered that some young plants had appeared along my back border = handy supply of material for testing. But I was concerned about the health and safety when being exposed to the fumes from the dye bath and also possible skin reactions when wearing items dyed with said plant. After an afternoon of Googling I had discovered that Black Nightshade might not be such a meanie after all. Both the young leaves and ripe berries are used as a food source in some parts of the world. Some daredevils who had tasted the berries reported them delicious and some had even made pie or jam with them... Now as I don't have any desire to turn this into a cautionary tale, I didn't taste any, but the berries smell nice when crushed. You've got to keep in mind that there are 1,500-2,000 species under the solanum genus and many different varieties of nightshade, only some of which are edible, according to Wikipedia. Which particular variety I have growing in my NZ garden is not known to me, but I'm suspecting it's unlikely to be exactly the same as the kinds commonly eaten in Africa or South America. Take care and be sure what it is you are tasting if you are keen! And then share with others how that went. My mission is to find out if the plant is of interest as a source for dye, and I handle it with gloves on in the process.

The first lot of plants got culled by a gardener who was not aware of my intentions. But as is the nature of nighshade, the second generation is alive and kicking.
 Here's my first harvest. 
Hapa zome on silk previously solar dyed with pineapple sage.
 The jury is still out, but I'll let you know how it goes.
Have you tried dyeing with this plant before?

new year - together

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and abundant 2013! ♥♥♥
If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together...

The quote and picture above really stopped me in my tracks today. Together would be a natural theme for the coming year, as that was what I most enjoyed about 2012.  I'm reminiscing working with Strands, the photo shoot with Ishna and Noa and my lovely colleagues at Playcentre. Thank you all for being in my life! I feel a little sting in my heart knowing how often I have chosen to go my own way at various points in my life. I suppose I'm learning when it's the right time to do that and when it's better to stick together. I so look forward to what this year will bring for us all!
A year ago I was thinking about Durga and Kali. Integrating the full feminine power was a strong undercurrent all year and it inspired me in my work as well, not as blatantly as I planned it to, but it was there nevertheless. 
The festive season has been full of quality time with kids and late nights by the computer. I discovered Pinterest some months ago but only started using it now. OMG it's so much fun! Hours of fun! It's dawned on me how the variety of social media caters for different styles. Twitter has never interested me, but as you can't get more visual than Pinterest - I'm in! While sifting through photos I've been sorting out my music collection at the same time. And making plans for a website! Shopping for a font is such a treat, like trying on different personalities.
Bring it on 2013!