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Gathering natural pigments in the park


(color notes below post)

My hope for new years day was just to spend time outside with friends and find color-making materials. Three adults corralled four children down the sidewalk to Birchwood Park and for the first 15 minutes of playtime, I had lots of little hands helping pick Cotoneaster berries.

Then, just the youngest and I remained interested and while the rest of our team ran around the playground and argued about who was the boss of whom, he and I explored the perimeter of the park. My two-year-old helper decided to gather wet pinecones, and I picked the wild rosehips that hadn't been eaten by birds. 

Later, during naptime, I filled a bag with dark purple privet berries from the yard and peeled birch bark off a recently downed tree. 

A beautiful Saturday. 

privet berry  birch bark
Privet Berry: gave me a deep, moody violet, like the color that most call "plum". Altering it's pH turned the ink to a cooler blue-violet.

Birch Bark: a very educational fail and had to be tossed. It did leave me with a good idea of how to do things differently next time, though. 

Cotoneaster Berry: required lots of berries, since the color comes mainly just from their skins. Made a beautiful, ephemeral, delicate pink. The dried ink loses it's pigment very quickly, over just a week or so, to become a fawn brown. 

Wild Rosehip: A trickster! On it's own, this January batch of ink gave a warm yellow color. Mixed with other inks, it causes major shifts in color. Read more about Rosehip's effects in this entry

I left the soggy pinecones with my little helper.