Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Wonderwool and the aftermath

Well back from Wonderwool just about recovered and preparing for the next event which is a weekend workshop at Burton Manor teaching my brand new workshop Felt Sketchbooks of which more soon.

Enys and I had a lovely time and Enys sold all her plants apart from about 5 echium vulgare ( vipers bugloss) which we are growing for the purple you are supposed to be able to get from it's roots and for the butterlies. All the rest Woad, a tiny madder, a tiny chinese woad, Japanese polygonum, golden rod, reseda luteola and phytolacra all went and Enys brought herself two dresses on the strength of it! I had a lot of interest in my inks, sold some and have had orders since the fair, and in my books, less in my naturally dyed merino tops. In this situation where people are selling rainbow dyed merino and silks in synthetic dyes for half the price they do seem expensive. However I met lots of interesting people including an artist who is having an exhibition with others around plants and so brought loads of plant dyed fibres as well as the inks.

My main concern was the look of the stall. We had been told that we could suspend meat hooks from the top of the shelling suspend a broomstick and suspend from that. This seemed a good idea, but the meat hooks did not go over the shelling so we were unable to use them and the walls looked very bare. I am having a frame made for the WoolFest and plan to dye loads of fabrics to hang from it so I hope it improves the look. There were a couple of stall which were very nice to look at in I wish I had had time to photograph them. Plant Dyed Fibres had the walls hung with naturally dyed wool cloth which was fabulous and lovely to be in and the two ladies who sell Coloures des Plantes natural dye extracts had a very stylish stall.

I brought some fantastic fine fabric from Sloe Loris from South West China with beaten indigo so was a wonderful bronze colour covered with a wash of egg to waterproof it and also with persimmon. The peimmon one is a very dark green. He was astonished that I knew about fermented persimmons and said I was the first person he had met who knewanything about this "dye". So thanks to Chris Conrad whose book I am reviewing on this very subject! This is the photograph at the top of the page and the persimmon coated cloth is the one on the right. Don't say as did naughty dh it looks like a bin bag!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Ink! Ink! Glorious Ink!

I am off to WonderwoolWales tommorrow with my stall . And! .............With my Inks!........................

I am so pleased with my dear little bottles so here is a photo of them all.
Brazilwood soft red- a traditional recipe,
18th Century Black
and the rest I invented myself.
Cochineal red
They are £6.50 each for 50ml or special offer buy four get one free! They will be on my website soon as soon as I manage to work out how to post them. In the meantime I shall be at with them but although they have been ready only for one day I ahve already had an order for four !
It has been a very interesting journey which is not over yet as when I started to look into inks I was just interested. The decision to try making some for sale developed as I went along.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Fun with inks and plants for Wonderwool

Hi! This weekend I have been recovering from teaching 59 children from 3 - 11 to dye yarn multicoloured, to make pencil cases which they then dyed in a woad vat ( the week having a Celtic theme) all that is except for the 3-5 year olds who made smiling faces in felt and naturally dyed merino tops. It was great fun but I have been knackered so yesterday I did nothing except walk the dogs and today I indulged myself playing with the new Natural Dye Inks. I painted three sheets of watercolour card ready for my new series of Colours of the Earth as I am now down to the last four and I have edition 2 ready and waiting to be printed. I really enjoyed painting with the inks, they flow smoothly except my green is a bit watery which I will have to rectify and they are also clear and bright. Today I played around with mixing some of them particularly the grey and yellows for a limey green and also the reds and yellows. I am hoping to have the new edition of the dyebook ready for Wonderwool. and also some of my new inks which visitors to the stall will have a chance to play with. So if you are in the vincinity come along to Wonderwool which incidentally is on the 26th 27th of April at the Royal Welsh Show Ground · Llanelwedd · Builth Wells · Powys Event Opening Times: 10.00am - 5.30pm
Enys rang me up and said she will have quite a few dye plants to bring including; Woad, Isatis Tinctoria. Japanese Polygonum,Polygonum Tinctorium, a few Madder Rubia Tinctoria, a few Weld, Reseda Luteola, and Vipers Bugloss, Echium Vulgare ,which we will grow as a dye plant for the first time this year as it is is a member of the Boraginaceae which is the same group as alkanet (Alkanna Tinctoria) and has been said to give purple with the root by some of the members of Natural Dyes Online
Bye for now!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Inks from Natural Dyes

Those of you who have been following my blog will know that I have been playing around with making natural dye inks ever since a local artist David Brightmore asked me to make him a set of inks from natural dyes a few months ago. I have had the inks on the back of my mind for a fow weeks and earlier on this week made space to make some of the traditonal recipes. I first made two "blacks" the first the traditional gall nut ink the second a later in time ( 1800's) slightly more complex one with logwood, and sugar. Then I embarked on the brazilwood reds the traditional source of most red inks up until the the 1920's. I made two the second of which I used in the pictures are with the brazilwood extracted in acetic acid. This latter recipe I found on the net in Henrietta's Herbal Page .
the blacks from David Carvahlo's book 40 centuries of ink. published by ISBN 1.406844136. Browsing through Dominique Cardons Book Natural Dyes I came across a reference to fermented persian berries being used to make a green paint and then felt that I really wanted to make a set of dyes quickly having got into the swing of it, and not wait around for a week or so to ferment the berries so I made up a concentrated solution of the extract of rhammus berries and made an ink with that. That is the yellow. I have been playing around with making paints, it is these that I use to paint the covers of my dye books, for years but had not found a good strong yellow to paint with except saffron. So I was extremely pleased to find that the persian berry extracts made a really strong yellow. The final colour the green is made with an extract called "green" surprisingly enough and this is apparently extracts from various plants. This I also made up into a a strong solution and made an ink from that. Then I painted a picture! I am pleased with them with some reservation. I had hoped that the brazilwood would be redder and the black is really a charcoal grey,nice to use in a paint but not quite dark enough for writing. However I have got the hang of making inks and for my own purposes ,which is to paint pictures as a starting point for my felt landscapes , I am more than happy with them and think I will try the cochineal red apparently more brilliant but less lightfast and purple. I have put samples of ink painted onto card in my southwest facing window for a month so will see how these fare lightwise.
Oh! and the blue on the right hand side is not an ink but a thickened ( with gum tragacanth) indigo concentrate.