Monday, September 21, 2009


Nalda and I have both noticed the insect galls on the small Eucalyptus trees that occurr patchily around us. She says the grub that lives inside them is collected for bush tucker. Underneath some trees there are numbers of scattered opened galls.The insides are smooth voids unlike the rough textured exteriors. They are beautiful objects and we gather some to take back to camp. Wind pruned leaves are going in the dyepot, the galls are very numerous on the branches and we strip them off and lay them on the ground for further exploration.

Corymbia opaca, Muur-muur, Tjuta.
Galls on C. opaca. Miipurr.

Early next morning Lizzy and Nora come visiting. They are looking after two energetic small children and need cups of tea. They have a look at our dyeing efforts and Lizzy points to the galls - don't throw them away, they have colour in them - and so they do, copious amounts of rich chestnut brown. Later, back at the roadhouse base camp I find Miipurr in Nalda's big Western Desert languages dictionary and they are the galls on Eucalyptus opaca which has recently been renamed as a bloodwood - Corymbia opaca. They are also known as bloodwood apples and the grub/edible part is called nguku nguku or yangyura. Things that are useful are given lots of names.

Miipurr in the dye pot.

As a dye it is quite fugitive though - washing away on wool to a pale fawn. I think perhaps there is a lot of tannin in there which is good to know too as its useful for mordanting cellulose fibres. More tests with some mordants are needed. The colour is spectacularly rich and beautiful though as a pigment on rag paper - which we discover when we use it for our big drawing the next day.

1 comment:

  1. i find that colour from galls and also from bark [especially those species encrusted with kino] is best used for drawing and painting on paper...