Foxprint Fibres

Our family lives about an hour west of Montreal, in a town of towering pine trees and ever-present birdsong. Our yard is small, yet hums with year-round activity: flower, vegetable and herb gardens that each year claim a little more grass space, a busy chicken coop, paths in the earth and the snow that meander between playhouse, deck, shed, sandbox, beaten by little feet, big feet, cat feet, rabbit feet … and, as we were delighted to discover last year, fox feet.

The foxes, a mother and her kit, visited daily through the summer. Their paths were always the same: swiftly and quietly entering the backyard by passing alongside the cedar, stopping by the coop to see if we had forgotten to latch the door (we never did), lingering under the boughs of the spruce, in shadow, waiting to see if the hens would come out on their own (they never did), then slipping out through the border of Jerusalem artichokes, in search of easier prey. They were very bold, coming in full daylight, even if one of us played or worked in a corner of the yard. Sometimes I would know they were there by the alarmed call of the chickens. Sometimes they would be but an orange and white movement caught out of the corner of the eye.

When I started getting more steeped in my natural dyeing projects, I tried to think of a name that would reflect the process of capturing colour from my environment. I thought of the fox, a creature that can traverse suburban and rural spaces, backyards and fields, in its hunt for food. I imagined the landscapes it passes silently through — the wildflowers, the trees. Pine. Spruce. Blackberry hedge. Mullein. Marigolds. Brown-eyed Susans. Sumach. Goldenrod. Its face and tail just visible in a flash of contrasting colour, then hidden again by the greens, browns, and myriad blossom hues.

I like to think of myself as traversing these spaces as well, hunting for dye plants with which to feed my dye pot and imprint upon the fibres with which I spin and knit. These dye plants may be foraged from wild places, or harvested from intentional plantings.

My goal with Foxprint Fibres is to record my journey as a natural dyer and, as a natural extension, my journey through the spaces that surround me.

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