Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Something Wrong

Birch out my back door - not as bright as it usually is

I'm blaming it on that unseasonably early below freezing cold-snap we had at the end of September, followed by another one a week or so later. Most of the trees had not started to turn as the early snow fell, and it seemed to shock them into not quite knowing what to do. As they finally have turned, the colors have been dull, pale russets rather then bright orange-reds, muted golds rather than clear yellows.  Granted, these pictures were taking over the weekend when it was cold, damp and overcast, but even on a sunny day, there's not much brightness to the leaves.

Looking along the backyards from my place, the only bright looking thing is that landscape bush next to the building down from me. Compare this to what things looked like last year in this post (those grasses show absolutely no color this year). And there's something not quite right about that tamarack showing in the upper right.

Tamaracks (also known as larches) have needles that turn yellow and drop off in the fall, unlike other conifers. But this year something else is happening. There's a green hugging the branches while the rest of the needles are yellow. I'm not sure I've ever witnessed this before.

And it's not just the tamaracks. These are off a maple tree out front. I noticed it on Monday, how the leaves retained some green along the veins, and I didn't remember this maple turning yellow.

I searched around the tree and found a few leaves showing some of the red I remembered. Something is definitely wrong here.

A bookbinder that I follow recently showed a "botanical" book she had bound using paper she had eco dyed. I remembered watching her tutorial of eco printing paper a while back and thinking it wasn't something I was interested in. But now I was feeling differently about it and looked up the tutorial to refresh my memory. Her method is very simple and relatively quick (as opposed to the process involved in eco printing fabric) and I realized I had everything I needed on hand. With those odd leaves on my mind, I decided this might be the perfect time for me to try this. By yesterday, the sun had come out and the winds too and that maple tree was mostly bare (the birch out back too). I gathered the maple leaves from the ground, along with some red ones off a chokecherry tree and some cottonwood leaves further along on my walk, followed the directions and was stunned at the beautiful results.

Chokecherry leaves on the bottom, top a bleed through

Not everyone's a winner, and some sides look better than others, as you get some bleed through from the layer underneath. I love the soft impressions on the top half of this page but not so much the bottom half. Arrangement is important, and some leaves I arranged better than others. 

Maple leaf and pink geranium flowerettes

I used 7 x 10 inch heavy watercolor paper so these can't really be pages in a book, but they could be soft covers. I might even try some stitching on some of them. Or collaging - teabags anyone?

I think this one is my favorite. I was unsure about overlapping leaves so only tried it on this one. I can see that it works really well. I was warned that results might be unpredictable, that some flowers or leaves might not transfer any color at all or a color you might not expect. All those yellow cottonwood leaves I collected? They turned brown and left dark brown images while the yellow and green maples stayed lighter with hints of that yellow. And while not distinct, the few pink geranium flowerettes that I salvaged off the plant on my deck (the cold weather hasn't been kind to it either) did transfer a somewhat mauve. I'm keen to try this again with a less heavy paper.


Anonymous said...

We've noticed something is happening to the leaves this year here, too. It was cold & snowed early then warmed up a bit, then got cold again. Meanwhile, leaves just turned pale & dropped off the trees. Your geranium flowerettes are my favorite with a hint of color. You could frame some of your leaves for a nice grouping! Jan in WY

The Inside Stori said...

Ha, ha…..I knew you couldn’t resist trying this!!!

Charlton Stitcher said...

We’re currently up here in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, visiting my husband’s family haunts as we so often do. The colours here are as lovely as usual - especially the beech trees with their rich golds and russet browns and the acid yellow larches. But now the cold has arrived and there’s a dusting of snow on the tops of the Cairngorm mountains so the colours won’t stay long. They will be muted and may well be gone by the end of next week when we head home to Wiltshire

On another tack I really enjoyed the soft and subtle colours of your eco dying.