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.


  1. You are very creative, it seems to me. How did you get started with those dyes?
    Blessings, Star

  2. Hi Star I think I have always loved colour as one of my earliest memory was one of great excitement as a very small child squeezing crepe paper in water and watching bright colour run out. I tried dyeing with procion dyes as an adult but I went to a natural dyeing workshop run by my local Guild Weavers Spinners and Dyers and came home and started dyeing and have been dyeing ever since. Getting colour from plants feels so exciting and satisfying and the colours themselves are so complex. believe me once you are into natural dyeing you don't want to do anything else.

  3. I love gardens, where you see spots that are not perfectly styled! honestly, I'd have a seriously bad conscience if I came into a totally done up garden, where not a blade of grass is out of place:(( I think like minimalist interiors they lack charm! and anyway, how could anyone involved in textiles find enough time to have such a spotless garden:) only two hands and 24 hours a day and all that....

  4. Well Bettina you are definitely the sort of guest I like! :)

  5. Congratulations on the successful open day and successful fabric paints! This is a lovely year for gardens, the right mix of sun and rain. After reading that you have 60 dye plants I wonder how many I'm growing, possibly a dozen?

  6. Hi Dorothy This list of 60 dye plants includes: dock, nettle, meadowsweet, iris pseudocorus birch, mountain ash, elderberry (the nigra) ground ivy, crab apple, and buddliea, many of which people have so you may have more than you think!