More mugwort!

Yesterday I worked on the mugwort design for the next mug and finished it this morning. I am getting better at doing this sort of design–this one went very quickly. Only the cleanup took a while, because I for some reason decided to put in a purple background. Not a good idea–so I painstakingly removed it. Took me over an hour. Now I know–no backgrounds! Just plain white looks best with these mini paintings. The one thing I have to resist with these is my tendency to be perfectionist. Is there a particular witching herb you would like to see me do next? I’ve been thinking of doing poppy next just because of the fun of painting brightly colored flowers, but if you have suggestions, post them in the comments.

Meanwhile, I hope that today I will be going to the ocean to walk and take photos for paintings.

A good day to harvest herbs

I’ve got a bunch of herbs that are almost ready to go out into the two raised beds I have to work with this year. Twelve of them are transplants that I bought from Mountain Valley Growers–clary sage, dittany of Crete, rosemary, rue, and black sage–but more are plants I started from seeds I started the second time around: sacred datura, black henbane, pallid henbane, white henbane, wild white petunia (seeds were not dead after all!), basil, and bits and bobs of other stuff that came up. It has been a slow start for me this year, since my initial tray of seeds mostly rotted from soap somehow getting into the tray.

This morning is cool and sunny, such a wonderful change from the past couple of really muggy days. I got out in the back and harvested a bunch of mugwort and some tansy that had volunteered in my beds. This is not the best time to harvest them–I should have waited until they were in bloom–but the mugwort especially was doing its usual thing of taking over the world. These are drying now in my dehydrator, along with a couple of very tiny mandrake roots. I have a couple of projects planned for those little guys. I love the smell of tansy.

Yesterday I began researching how to dye wool and silk with mugwort and other witching herbs. Looks like it’s possible to get a green from mugwort with alum and copper mordants. I’ve got my eye on some wool/silk yarn to make a cingulum from. I’d like to see what henbane is capable of in terms of dyeing as well. I’ll post more on this as I get more info. Hope to be doing some testing with mugwort in a week or so.

Going to be working on and hopefully finishing the next mug today, Sacred Datura. I already managed to finish an oil painting I’ve been working on. “The Ancients.”

What a gift!

Last year I bought a bunch of tropical plants to grow indoors because another tenant made it very uncomfortable to plant in the raised beds we’re allotted here. I got jasmines, stephanotis, and some hoyas, a tropical vine that produces bunches of tiny, very sweet-smelling flowers. I have a special place in my heart for hoyas, as the very first plant I ever grew, given to me by my fifth-grade teacher, was a hoya, but I haven’t grown any for years and years, always so taken up by my outdoor garden that I had no indoor plants at all.

One of the hoyas I bought for its very wonderful variegated little leaves – Hoya khoniana “Eskimo.” It’s a kind of miniature plant with speckled leaves. I put it on top of a bookshelf next to my reading chair where it would get sufficient light and I could regularly admire its leaves. It has been very happy there, producing a couple of pretty long vines.

The other night I was sitting there reading and kept smelling something sweet. I thought it was something outside, although that window is not near any plants, just a bare alley. But this morning I checked, and the hoya has tiny little bunches of flowers that give off a strong, sweet smell. Such joy! I am so glad I got these plants.