Running a natural dyeing workshop in the summer is the best time of year as the students have a vast array of plants in full bloom to extract colour from. This day of alchemy was held at The Bothy @ Vanessa Arbuthnott’s fabric showroom in Cirencester a couple of weekends ago.
Will wild Golden Rod give the same colour as the cultivated garden variety?
What colour (if any) will white flowers give when boiled up?
Will deep pink Dahlia flowers give the same colour dye? The answer:- it produced the zingy orange (in the centre of the image) on the wool we used to create a colour reference.
The students were guided in the preparation of dyestuffs, fresh, dried and concentrated extracts; with the mordanting of the wool to ensure the dyes didn’t wash out; the varied dyeing methods and processes, then played with colour by dyeing a second colour over the first using all the coloured dye-baths we had produced during the day. Each student chose their favourite colours to dye 3 skeins of British Wool to take home.
As a ‘run through’ for the first Natural Dyeing workshop I will be teaching at The Bothy in Cirencester on Saturday August 12th, I extended an invitation to students who had been on one of my weaving courses, to come and spend a day making and using dyes extracted from natural sources.
Dye was extracted from dried dyestuffs including madder (reds/oranges/pinks) and Logwood (purples/greys/browns) and from a diverse range of seasonal fresh plants including Weld (yellows), asparagus leaves (pale green) and white Achillea (blue/grey), plus as many more as we had jars to try! Wool samples pre-prepared with mordant were dyed and some over-dyed in a second colour producing a subtle two-toned yarn.
My plan for the students to dye a 30g skein of wool in their favourite dye(s) fell by the wayside as they wanted to keep extracting colour from new plants, so they took this mordanted wool home.
Within a couple of days I started receiving emails with photos of the plants they had tried and the fabulous (and sometimes unexpected) colours they had dyed their wool.
Warp in hand-spun rare breed British Wool for Cotswolds Inspired collection of cushions.
I’ve set up the portable loom for my demonstration this weekend at Stow Cotswold Festival on Saturday 15th July. I will be in St Edward’s Hall and I would love you to drop by! There will be a couple of little looms for anyone to try weaving.
Weaving Demonstration for Cotswold AONB Rural Skills at Sheep and Wool Day, Northleach.
In the next couple of months I will be taking a loom or two to the following shows.
I will be demonstrating weaving and where it is feasible I will have equipment setup ready for visitors to have a go at weaving.
The Cotswold Show held on Saturday and Sunday, July 1st and 2nd in Cirencester. I will be in the Rural Crafts area as a guest of the Northleach Spinners and Weavers.
The Stow Cotswold Festival held on Saturday 15th July in Stow on the Wold, with Cotswold AONB Rural Skills.
Also as a new tutor for New Brewery Arts, Cirencester, I will be assisting on their stand at the Contemporary Craft Festival this weekend in Bovey Tracey, Devon. The Festival runs from Friday 9th June to Sunday 11th June, I will be there on Saturday.
Detail of design submitted to the Bradford Textile Society Competition 2017
Using the specified wool yarns, I developed a design suited to a light soft furnishing application. The wool was supplied in very dark brown, creamy white and a ‘marl’ (being the brown and white twisted together). I wanted to use these natural fleece colours in the main but chose to add a little colour by dyeing the white and the marl yarns with cochineal and indigo natural dyes. These were used sparingly in both warp and weft.
The design had a border of a zig-zag pattern, this would be a feature around the edges of a cushion.
For more images, see here.
In recent months I have been kept busy with requests to teach weave workshops using this simple loom.
The wonderful things about this form of weaving are:
The equipment is very ‘low tech’ and inexpensive if you want to buy your own.
It is very portable so you can weave anywhere, inside or outside, standing or sitting.
I can have absolute beginners weaving within a very short space of time, both children and adults.
You can weave cloth in a ‘conventional’ form or weave an ‘art piece’ incorporating all manner of materials.
I have taught 2 groups of 14, A Level Textiles students at Cirencester College in a morning; a knowledgeable group of 11 from the Gloucestershire Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers and one-to-one with students in my studio.
I now teach on a regular basis at The Bothy at Vanessa Arbuthnott in Cirencester, Prema Arts in Uley and Cotswold AONB Rural Skills in Northleach (where my next day workshop is on Friday 28 April 2017). Check their respective websites for dates, availability and booking. If you send me an email and I will add you to my mailing list and I’ll let you know new course dates.
Just after Christmas, Cotswolds based photographer Chris Boulton visited my weave studio in Calmsden near Cirencester, to capture images of me and my working environment for his ongoing project titled ECHO OF OUR FATHERS. He intends to produce a book and stage an exhibition of the images he has created; portraits of artisans whose practice embraces heritage craft skills. These beautiful atmospheric images are now on his website, please follow this link
Reproduced with kind permission of Chris Boulton,