Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Alchemy




I have been itching to try using natural dyes for ages, ever since I bought a woad plant, on a whim, from the National Herb Centre back in May. Said woad plant is still languishing in a very small pot on my mum's patio- I will try and plant it this weekend. I want to mention two very special blogs that have inspired this new endeavour; Carolyn Saxby's Love Stitching Red and Cathy Cullis.

To me, the best thing about this new project is that the results are quite unpredictable and the process feels very experimental. There is no great long list of equipment needed to get started; you just have a go and see what happens. This appeals greatly to the way I create work as I'm not very patient and not very good at planning. I won't write out a long "how to" article because, frankly, I don't feel qualified (I am very much a beginner) and there is plenty of good advice on the two blogs mentioned above as well as a lot of books out there on the subject.

These two jars are filled with blueberry and turmeric dye so they're not exactly plant dyes made from bits and pieces I've gathered myself wearing a peasantish dress made of roughly woven linen whilst the sun hangs low in the sky casting a Hardyesque tinge to the scene. No. They are what-I-could-find-on-the-shelves-of-Marks-and-Spencers dyes hastily acquired on the way home from work, in the rain. I'm fairly certain that if my landlord stumbled across my little experiment he might think I have Wiccan tendencies. And it does feel very witchy in much the same way using a pestle and mortar makes me feel like some 14th century wise woman. I plan to leave them where they are until the weekend when I will admit to either failure or success. Contained in the jars are a selection of fabric scraps; bits of lace, crocheted doilies, muslin, silk. I have no idea what I will do with them once they are dry and ironed, they will probably join my ever expanding pile of handmade papers and collages, ready to use once inspiration strikes.

2 comments:

  1. What a great idea: love the thought of dyeing my own fabrics with plants gathered at full moon, barefooted etc. Sadly think a teenage tie-dye phase will be the only time I manage it!

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  2. I went through a spinning and dyeing phase...big pot bubbling on the Aga and hanks of coloured dripping fleece and bundles of herbs ,flowers and bark hanging all around my kitchen . My parish priest came to visit me ...he,d heard that I was dyeing ! ..and I hung a broomstick up by my front door just to add to the rumours. What a giggle !

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