Years ago, in early 2008, I was given some raw wool, just sheared from a sheep at a friend’s farm. Not knowing what I was getting into, I spent days cleaning the matter out of just a small portion of the bags I was given. We lived on a fabulous farm in North Carolina and had persimmon trees around our horse pasture.
I knew of persimmon dye and thought I could stick some persimmons, leaves, and water in a pot, throw the wool in, and watch it all come together to create a gorgeous golden dye bath. Boy, was I wrong. The wool got all tangled and the water was just not changing colors. I boiled for a while and then turned down the heat to let it sit. Still nothing.
Out of pure frustration, I grabbed a piece of linen paper off my studio table and a rock and put it down in the pot in hopes that the paper would stop the wool from matting and tangling, while the rock would press it all together. Not a chance, but…
The paper started to stain! Not like what I do now, of course, but enough to let me know that the persimmons didn’t have enough pigment to make a dye bath but just enough to stain paper that it was pressed against.
I dabbled with it a little, trying varying plants from our farm and different papers. Soon after I opened a retail “do-it-yourself” art studio and my time was focused on my growing business, Art Blooms.
At Art Blooms, I continued to dabble in my experimentation. My colors seemed to come out quite dark or non-existent; two extremes I had to investigate by changing up my variables. I started playing with different flora and foliage combinations and time boiling. It wasn’t until I closed Art Blooms in the beginning of 2014 and returned to live in Florida did I focus all my artistic and professional energy on Boiled Books.
The name I chose for my technique has gone through several incarnations – Botanical Bliss, EcoPrint Paper, Burned Books (I so often did), but finally settled on the quarky name of BoiLeD BooKs after seeing an article written by Laura Ryan where she chronicled her own technique in plant staining.
In my new Florida studio, I gave myself time to focus, grow, develop, and adventure into the world of Boiled Books. Through research and a lot of trial and error, I started to understand the science as well as the art of the technique. Seasons when the plants are harvested effects the boiled outcome. Areas of the country and, of course, differences that naturally occur in plant families make a difference. I soon discovered that the combination of plants I put together makes a huge difference.
Now I am completely devoted to my BoiLeD BooKs journey. I have created my own line of stationary that come together to create a fabulous collection. Since I was invited to sell my BoiLeD BooKs art at EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Earth Day celebration, my art is loved by collectors all over the world.