Botanical Alchemy

We have been winding down after the workshop, playing Catan by the stove and keeping out of the rain. We are all reflecting on such a wonderful weekend with a lovely group of women who came from as far North as Saltburn in Yorkshire, East as London and West as Devon for this three day workshop.

Inspired by India Flint’s book Eco Colour this workshop took her bundling techniques and aimed to share her sustainable dye practice. We used locally sourced dye stuffs and simple mordants and modifiers. Silk, wool and cellulose fibres, were stitched, folded, wrapped, bundled, simmered and steeped over the three days.

table

Rain kept us inside for most of Saturday, stitching samples of various fabrics onto papers around the kitchen table. The wood burning stove keeping us all cosey and Dan made us plentiful cups of tea and coffee.

In between downpours, we managed a woodland walk. We gathered leaves and tree flowers left for us by the squirrels and had a surprise meeting with a Roe deer. We returned and put leaves, onion skins and discarded kitchen waste, including onion skins, cabbage and fallen petals in our folded paper and clamped them together and put into two baths.

The first paper bundles were opened that afternoon revealing wonderful colours. Two bundles were also prepared, simmered and left to steep overnight.

Sunday was glorious and was spent in the garden with much folding, wrapping and binding of silk and cotton around sticks, copper and iron. Claire brought some Eucalyptus and the rest of the dyestuffs came from the garden as well as the nearby woods.

tent and garden

Seven bundles were prepared and put into four pots of various brews. After simmering and steeping overnight, the bundles were laid out to drain, ready to be opened when everyone arrived. They all looked much the same from the outside.

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However, once opened, glorious colours, patterns and leaf shapes emerged. Wonderful!

Stitching  again together on the third day and one last bundle on fine cotton gauze and the workshop was over.

So soon these lovely generous and enthusiastic women left with a loaf of Dan’s home made bread and a couple of Persicaria tinctoria plants to start their indigo dye garden. I will hope to lure them back with more botanical alchemy. Next time it will be the quest for the perfect blue.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Botanical Alchemy

  1. Sally

    What a wonderful weekend you must have had in spite of the rain. Good for the soul. The pictures are marvelous.

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  2. Juliet Sutton

    It was a really lovely weekend. Thanks so much Alex – we learnt so much in a wonderful setting and I have even set up my iron and ash jars!!! Can’t wait for the next one x

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    1. alex madden Post author

      Thank you, Juliet. I had such a good time too and really hope to have you back in my garden. Nice to hear you have started making some potions.

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