Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Hi from Enys

Just been getting the plants all ready for their trip to Woolfest, I can never decide what to take and what to leave behind. The wonder dog, Cariad, is going to stay with her favourite people, she will have walked all over the Clwydian Range and probably a great deal of Snowdonia, and will be extremely fit on our return.
Daughter and partner are in charge of all the greenhouse watering of husband's tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and aubergines + all the dye plants left inside and out + all the cuttings and houseplants.
Must admit that the plants are looking really good - especially the madder, which is a real pain to pack, it all gets tangled up and it takes ages to untangle it when we are setting the plants out - my arms are covered in faint scratches from it, maybe it doesn't want to leave home!!
Back to the packing - it's amazing what you can get into a Discovery, but where we are going to put our rucksack is anybody's guess. See you at Woolfest.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Still to do for the Woolfest

  1. Print off Colours of the Rainbow
  2. Finish formatting the label
  3. Print label
  4. Cut sheets of painted paper for book covers
  5. Stick label
  6. Stick photo on inside cover
  7. Staple books
  8. Print 10 copies Colour of the Earth
  9. Cut book covers for Colours of the Earth
  10. Staple Colours of the Earth in
  11. Put all three books in box (including Colour of the Sea and Sky) and put to be loaded in car.
  12. Finish another 10 Fine felt Key Fobs
  13. Price tags for fobs
  14. label for Key fob stand
  15. Make 60 pots of textile paints-all Saturday is scheduled for this.
  16. Label pots
  17. Make up Red ink
  18. Print labels for red ink
  19. Stick on labels for red ink
  20. Make up 20 Zip bags of teeswater
  21. Label teeswater Zip bags
  22. Make up 10 more small felt Kits
  23. Label
  24. makeup 10 " Necklace Kit"
  25. Write Instructions for Jewellery kit-mostly written,just needs formatting.
  26. Print label
  27. Print photo for jewellery kit
  28. print workshop leaflets
  29. Print Helen Melvin A5 flyers
  30. Sort out baskets
  31. Sort out stand covers
  32. Check that have all advertising posters
  33. Get Float
  34. Load Car
  35. Pack suitcase
  36. Check stall stand
  37. Put top box on car
  38. Put in essential food- coffee tea milk sugar cereal bread pepper salt, marigold buillion jam olive oil rice cakes chocolate biscuits rice milk WINE and dog food- we are self catering
  39. Remember to take Dog-as this is the first time we are taking her-where will she go- in the top box?
  40. Phew! set off
see you there
Bye! Bye!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Woolfest. Panic! What Panic ! EeeeK!

I am totally freaked out by another blog author saying she was ready for Woolfest bar a few bits and pieces. While DH decorates the sitting room following the installation of the wood burner & solar panels, clears a place in the garden for the new summer house, and plants our new Dye Trees ( Birch Betula Pendula....Wig or smoke tree Cotinus Coggrgria. .... Choisya Ternata Mexican Orange blossom .........I potter around with a furrowed brow trying to fit lots of different events together. For the Woolfest I have two major new products. One is my new book "The Colours of the Rainbow, Painting Fibre and Fabric with Extract Dyes." I have been trying to write this for two years and then decided that the only way to do it was to get up early and write every morning. It is not very early only 7.30am but DH is a dormouse in the morning and if he is not working he snoozes peacefully till 9 am. If he is working he does not get home till 10am so one way and another I have managed to write it. As I wrote it I kept identifying gaps in my samples so off I buzzed to the studio to do some dyeing. Mostly what I needed was what I call batch dyeing -dyeing lots of multicoloured fibre and fabrics in one go in a large pan. Well of course this is not only an opportunity to do some nice samples but I need to make more samples for summer school at Lincoln for the National Association for Weavers Spinners and Dyers where I am teaching ( along side extract dyeing) making a fine felt stole from 18.5micron merino So I took the opportunity to dye myself some multicoloured merino and also of course for Woolfest. Into my batch dyeing went fabrics- muslins,. chiffons and organzas-This is because I am involved in a very exciting event next October "The Real Colour Show" . (More soon)
Into my panic stricken brain zips the reminder of my other new product. These are my new Fabric Paints. I had these for the first time at my Open Day on May 30th I did not make many- just five pots of each colours but they all sold and of course I need to make a whole new lot for the WoolFest -phew! This means to make up the paints ,print off the labels and fill and label on the pots. Are you feeling tired reading this! On top of that is making more inks as they are generally selling well and although they did not sell well at the Woolfest last year they might this year. A college wants me to send details of my new course-you guess it-as a matter of urgency please. Someone asks me for a course next year-very gratifying as it means I am now booked up till next June- but they want a variant on my written workshops so I need to write a blurb and work out pack costs.
Why I am writing this blog! I don't know except it clarifies my mind to write it all down.
Back to the book. It needs to be edited,printed and given to DH who will go through it with a fine tooth comb and pick out anything I missed. As he is doing an OU degree in Law it means fitting this in with with what he is doing . Then I need to hand paint the covers, finish the design for labels, print them off and print the book and put together. I am very behind with my accounts Oh woe!
And get ready for the Woolfest
Ready ! You must be joking!

Photos are results of batch dyeing. They are in oranges greens and pinks and lilac and are a homage to Michelle Obama who wore a skirt in these colours while visiting Westminster Abbey. (and two cardigans as it was rather cold! I so admire her style)!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

From Enys

Finally found time to write something on the blog. I can see Helen has told you all about the fabulous open garden day we had, the sun shone and the plants looked great.
We had some lovely comments and compliments - so Chelsea here we come!!
Another month and the the garden will be really full to bursting point. I believe in close planting, gives the weeds less chance to get a grip. Fortunately what some gardeners consider weeds are also dye plants - this allows us to say that the 'weeds' in the garden are of the specially cultivated variety! At the moment I'm trying to re-plant various parts of my garden, putting in more dye plants in sections and mixing others up with the herbaceous perennials to give a mixture of striking colour e.g. Oriental poppy, Astrantia, Aconitum amongst many others. Last month I had to demonstrate how to make up a hanging basket, something I don't often do any more, used to make up lots, so now I'm stuck with it, but I must admit it does look very attractive. Unfortunately dye plants are no good for this job!
Have spent what seems like hours potting on Persicaria, Coreopsis, black pansy, Isatis indigotica, Isatis tinctoria, Rubia tinctoria, Tanecetum vulgare, Galium verum, Echium vulgare. The Woad in my garden has decided to make itself a bed of its own, it looks just like I had planted it special rows - something I've been trying to create for years.
Helen has explained how to put photos on the the blog and true to form I've forgotten, so will get it written down and next time I'll actually have photos of my garden to show you.
Back to work. Plants labels to write.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Addition to the Dye Garden Ascelpius Tuberosa Butterfly MilkWeed

Posted by Helen
We have a number of additions to the Dye Garden lately, Asclepius Tuberosa or Butterfly milkweed is the latest and the one of which Enys is most proud as she has nurtured it and overwintered it and here it is in flower. This plant is a member of the Asclepiadaceae or milkweed family although it does not have a milky sap. It is a native of North America found in sandy loamy or calcerous soils of prairies and open woods and is a dye plant producing a range of yellows golds and light bright olives depending on mordant but we are also interested in it as it attracts butterflies which fill our other criteria forthe garden -that it is a garden for the wildlife. It was also used by Native Americans and early settlers for the treatmentof lung complaints-so defintely a good one for me to have- and it was at one time called pleurisy root. It was also used as analgesic, laxative, dermatological and gynacological aid
All this information about it comes from Dyes from American Native Plants A Practical Guide by Lynne Richards and Ronald J Tyrl published by Timber Press Inc ISBN 0-88192-688-X , which Enys brought back from the US a couple of years ago.

Dye Plants in Flower at the moment also include: Viper Bugloss in the picture below, supposed to give purple with roots-yet another one Imust try!

Iris Pseudocorus supposed to give black with the root but not by me

Cosmos Sulphureus flowers give yellows

Weld Reseda Luteola-this year we have had a a lotof weld but it is all self seeded and this large plant was at the edge of a a bed dug at the beginning of the growing season last year -it set a florette last year and this year has just grown and grown.This of course gives a bright lightfast acid yellow which with ammonia is almost florescent

Here is our u shaped foxglove it had fallen over got propped up again and this is the result.

and finally -the principal reason why Enys put mullein Verbascum Thapsus in the garden -it is the only place for the mullein moth, Cucullia verbasci, and here are the happy caterpillars

Jill Goodwin in a Dyers Manual says with copper sulphate this gives a good green but it is one of those plants I have yet to get round to trying.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

More on the openday "Shopping for Colour"

Posted by Helen
Solar pots in my sunny place


Looking across the garden from the pond.
Two pictures in process,inks and the last of the new paints on the front row
Enys and I had a fantastically successful Shopping for Colour day. We think we had between 25-30 visitors most of whom stayed about two hours and the garden was very much admired. Some on arrival said in tones of wonder" What a beautiful garden" Which comment blew me away as I am always too aware of the untidy corner, the rusty gate, the dilapidated shed. As Enys said "well real gardeners don't notice those! Our largest patch of nettles was labelled in English Welsh and Latin accordingly so looked official rather than a neglected corner. DH's favourite comment was " you have a secret garden!"-true as there is no sign of it from the the front and it is not overlooked at all..My favourite was the comment from more than one person "Enys is a wonderful gardener"-Also true- We were so lucky with the weather as it was a beautiful warm sunny day with all the birds on their best behaviour and singing. Lots of insects buzzed around proving our point that we think we have got more insects since we planted the dye garden The dog,rather surprised at all our visitors kept quiet , merely mutely offering her ball to be thrown. All our 60 dye plants looked good although few of them are in flower.
Photographs? What photographs- Neither Enys nor I had a moment and DH was busy serving tea and coffee and then forgot
I sold lots including my merinos hung over the washing line as I had had no room with everything else in the studio.This was heart warming for me as I had not sold much of my naturally dyed wools at Wonderwool. You can just see a flash of the newly dyed pinky reds hanging up to dry on the line replacing the ones I had sold.
I had my new fabric paints to demonstrate. Some of you who are dedicated followers will know that last year I developed a range of natural dye inks for painting on paper. When I have had these at craft fairs many people ask me if they would work on fabrics. The inks are stabilised with mordants so they don't change colour when painted on paper and are were not principally designed for fabrics although I have to confess red faced I have not actually tried them. I had said on my brochure for my open day that I would be demonstrating my new fabric paints so I worked flat out to develop them. I had a few hiccups, one of which was a mould problem which I solved by ensuring the gum tragacanth-the thickener was refrigerated as soon as it was made. After researching I also decided to add tea tree oil as an anti fungacide. All in all it was a bit of a rush especially as we had the builders in putting in solar panels,a new woodburner and who over ran by a week. The skip full of rubble was still on our drive as people arrived.
My Fabric paints sold out -well all but a few! I shall have to make more for the Woolfest.At the moment I have 1 each of Cochineal/madder, Cochineal/Logwood . Persian Berry Yellow, Turquoise, Green and Black. I am so pleased with them.:)
Welcome to the new followers,thank you for your interest.