Category Archives: Bundles

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.

 

 

Oxfordshire Artsweek

I have been really busy for the past month neglecting both my blog and the housework. My summer studio is up in the garden with printing tables and indoor washing lines for the Spring showers.

studio

A trip to London to see the final dress rehearsal of The Winters Tale at the Opera House with fabrics and clothes from Denny Andrews followed by a wonderful exhibition of Boro textiles at Somerset House.

My indigo has been sown and is growing happily ready to be planted out at the end of May along with Coreopsis and Weld.

Persicaria tinctoria seedlings

Spring leaves have been steamed in handwoven khadi cotton and prints and last years indigo vat has been revived for some mud resist printing.

khadi prints 1 khadi prints

I was invited by my friend and Potter Noriko McFarlane to show at her studio at Manor Farm in Stanford in the Vale for Oxfordshire Artsweek. The exhibition opened last Saturday with a stream of people coming through the door and is open until the 11th of May.

Now to prepare for the workshops and new work.

Prints from the Fridge

Last Sunday was one of those wonderful, sunny Spring days, warm enough to eat outside and giving a taste of the Summer, I hope is on it’s way.

The weekend was made all the nicer as we had my three borrowed children (I dislike the whole step thing) gathered together for a birthday. The girls were in a creative mood and having found some old fruit and vegetables, lurking in dark corner’s of the fridge, I gathered some pieces of cotton, silk and paper to work with. These were then painted, sprayed, folded and rolled around various vegetation and layered in a steamer.  Later the bundles were unfolded to reveal lovely colours and patterns, all from fridge waste, including blueberries, red cabbage leaves and onion skins.

Experimenting with paper

I’ve had a lovely day yesterday playing with different types of paper to see how they take leaf prints. I know others who mordant paper with aluminium acetate to get lovely clear prints but I am hoping to find papers which give me the results I’m looking for without mordanting.

My good friend and artist Duncan Clarke gave me two sheets of acid free cotton rag paper to try and I already had sketch books of various types of water colour paper. I was also given  a bag of lovely red Virginia creeper to add to the Prunus, Amelanchier, Cotynus and Sumach leaves I gathered on my morning walk with the dogs.

After a day simmering and steaming I got some lovely prints and such a variety of colours. Duncan’s paper really pulled out the yellows and turned the Virginia creeper green and blue. My smooth water colour paper produced pinks and blues though not such clear prints and my sheets of rough water colour paper made very blurry images so I have left it folded up hoping for more.

I have folded some thread book boxes using standard printer paper and put leaves in and around them and they are now in the steamer with bits of metal. The challenge will be to find a strong, printable and light enough weight paper to make the folded books. There seem to be lots of info on the web on making simple origami books which I have also tried successfully using heavier weights.

The folded printing paper turns out to be promising though very fragile when wet. Most of the other papers are too heavy to fold into boxes except for a cartridge paper which didn’t take a good print. onion skins, sumach and Prunus turn out to be stars of this show.

Sunshine and Origami

A lovely Autumn day and I have been taking photographs. Here is my prototype of the Chinese folded thread book.

This could be the final outcome of the 3 day Bundling and Books workshop. It was a lovely thing to make even in newspaper and everyone could make their own very personal book using their lovely bundled papers and stitch or glue it all together.

It will have lots of compartments to put notes and the threads and string which get dyed along the way. We will also aim to make a  fabric cover which will also be stitched and dyed during the workshop. Now I just have to find the right materials and make sure this is all possible in 3 days.

Stormy skies

Autumn fruits provide coloured backgrounds to leaf prints. The possibilities seem endless. Walnuts are simmering on the stove and another pot is reducing the previous extractions to a dark and wonderful ink. Painted on watercolour paper with the berry dye produces lovely colours that reflect the gloomy sky outside and remind me of beautiful landscapes I viewed last night by local artist Duncan Clarke at our community shop and gallery