Saturday, 31 May 2008

Filming the Dye Garden

Photographing the filmers!
The top picture shows Enys with the presenter Russell waiting to be filmed through a sea of golden rod , Enys again waiting - there was a lot of waiting- with my washing line with merino tops dyed with the garden dye plants next to her The third one is of the camera man in my studio with dried garden grown dyes in the foreground, and finally me posing in blue gloves glasses on top of my head as usual waiting to pull something out the dyepot.
The day went well- the garden and Enys were the stars and Enys explained all about the dyes sometimes translating what I said but the focus was really on the plants. S4C is the Welsh language channel and consequentially they cannot have more than a small amount of English in it so I don't appear very much in the film, just pulling stuff out the indigo vat and so on. They were fascinated by my samples of fermented madder and solar dyed madder which I had laid out ready at the back of the studio ( will put up a photo of these ) and we unwrapped a piece of bundled silk which had been wrapped around crushed dye plants for three weeks and left in the sun. The colours are gorgeous so I will take a picture of that today and put it up on the blog too. The funniest thing was the big debate on how to translate that I do a lot of fermentation dyeing and came up between them with a word that apparently is rather like brewing as the formal dictionary translation of fermentation into Welsh would not have been recognised by many viewers. The day was fun how much of it it will make it to the small screen I don't know but they said it will probably be shown about four weeks after the start which is the 4th of June.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Dye Garden in process of being tidied up.

Well here is the film star having had a quick wash and brush up! Patio weeded, bears scrubbed free of bird stuff, grass cut, nettles-well some of them cut down ready for the patch to be cleared for Japanese Polygonum ( but don't worry there are plenty more hidden away in corners!). To the right nearly out of the picture is a glass demijohn full of our own grown madder, rubia Tinctoria, which immediately produced good colour and has mirrors round it to catch the rays of sun. Today the bath got up to 35 degrees C and the colour is easily rivalling some commercial chopped madder roots fermenting in the studio which you can't see as it is behind the camera. Most dye plants are in the general mass of green . Golden rod, solidago canadensis, to the left behind the bears, a tub which you can't really see with black violas and self seeded ground ivy (Nepeta hederacea.), behind that is a big bush of Genista Tinctoria and behind that a staghord sumach ( rhus typhina) tree just coming into leaf. Right at the back is Cow parsley - Anthriscus sylvestris . To the rear and right of the picture you may be able to see DH's burning place. The rest is hidden. or as the ladies bedstraw ( galium verum), only just beginning to sprout. The pond is for the wildlife, although purple loostrife, lythrum salicaria, has self seeded behind it. Yesterday DH and I sat and watched a hedge sparrow who has a nest just above it have a lovely refreshing bath in the water.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Felt Sketchbooks Burton Manor 3rd/4th May 2008

Felt Sketch Books
This workshop was run for the first time at Burton Manor 3rd 4thMay 2008.
This is the blurb which describes the workshop and the photos show some of the resulting work.
"During the workshop students will experiment with a wide variety of different feltmaking techniques to create complex and patterned surfaces in felt with layers of colour and texture, using naturally dyed wool and silk fibres, silk and cotton fabrics and linen and silk threads. These sheets of fine felt will then be stitched into a book. This workshop will be ideal for those wanting to learn felt making as well as those wanting to extend their knowledge of this versatile craft."

Packs for the weekend - I made 14 so there were plenty for the 8 students to choose form.
Students at workUsing part felts and layers of fibres to create
textured and multicoloured effects.
Translating a free form painting using Natural Dye Inks into felt
Detail needle felted into place.
Happy students at the end of two days hard work
Stitching into the surface

Friday, 9 May 2008

Fame for the Dye Garden!

My dye garden is going to feature in a televison production-part of a series on working garden by S4C the Welsh language Televison channel sometime in the summer. Enys who grows the dye plants and I who uses them will feature too! Enys of course is the Welsh speaker in the relationship with me doing the dyeing. We tried to persuade them that it might be better to wait till the dye plants were mature, but they are adamant they want it in May (they are filming on May 22nd) which will challenge the pair of us. They predictably want me to demonstrate woad dyeing with fresh leaves. However I hope to have a few others such as birch, and eucalyptus leaves which gave a good colour about this time last year. S4C are also going to film Enys's garden too as she grows plants for medicinal and traditonal usage.

At the moment I am wondering how they are going to do me dyeing and Enys explaining as she grows and I dye! We are also both feeling totally freaked at getting everything ready in two weeks However at least I put some cotton into my compost heap to compost dye last week which helps in explaining that every part of the garden is used and we have practiced good lines for the nettles-dye, attracts butterflies, can use for spinning , as well as for the bonfire site, (my DH loves having a good burn) which we point out provides me with woodash for wood ash lye. as things stand we cannot find a good excuse for the weeds in the paving cracks on the patio so DH will have to weed., ( I originally said that we would have to weed but DH pointed out that the we was a royal we and it really meant him)

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Enys blog on dye plants 19 April 2008

enys said...
Mae Tyfu Lliw yn enw addas iawn i'r 'blog' yma. Yr wyf yn cael llawer o hwyl yn tyfu bob math o flodau i Helen i'w defnyddio. Mae hi yn creu lluniau bendigedig, mae y lliwiau yn hollol naturiol ac felly yn gweithio yn dda iawn yn rhoi lliw credadwy o'r wlad o'm cwmpas.I was just wondering if there was a Welsh person out there using natural dyes.I'm so glad the polygonum has germinated, I get worried when I send seeds.The Woad grows everywhere in my garden, but I always plant some seeds in the greenhouse, and these never do very well - so now I rely on it self seeding (which it does with a vengence).I germinated the Chinese Woad in 3 different ways, bottom heat -very succesful, greenouse covered in bubble wrap very good result but obvious slower, and in an open tray and they are just showing now. The weather has been so dull and cold so everything is very slow, usually by now I am potting on at a frantic rate, as it is I've potted on about 30 Japanese polygonums and I've got what looks like hundreds more. Make sure you let one or more plants set seed to save for next year.I'm going to put most of the Chinese Woad in Helen's garden, to avoid it cross pollinating with my Isatis tinctoria Woad. I've got a another place to put mine a long way from the main garden. Always exciting growing new plants.Enys

Helens' note-Enys meant to post this but put it into a comment box instead so I have posted it for her.
Incidetnally woad does not flourish in my garden. We grow it here from Enys plants but rarely do we find woad self seeding any where in my garden.