For much of the past year I’ve been spending alot of time learning and experimenting with plant based dyes. What has really excited me has been learning about the colours that are within the landscape that I live in. This is so closely related to the Norfolk Horn project. I want the colours I use to be related to its place and its history. Before this I had only ever used acid dyes – I think I wrote about this in a very early post – like many I hadn’t used plant based dyes because I thought they were time consuming, not very light fast, drab and not particularly environmentally freindly when you look at the chemicals used as mordants and modifiers. Never say never. The Norfolk Horn project was the catalyst that got me thinking.
One of the classic books on the subject is A Dyers Manual by Jill Goodwin. Jill was incredibly knowledgeable and very well respected. Her book is a classic text on the subject. It was, and continues to be an inspiration to dyers since it was first published in 1982. It has been the one book that I have kept going back to. In particular the section on woad. Ian Howard of Woad -Inc recomended Jills work to me when I started my journey with woad. Sadly, Jill died in 2013 aged 95. Like many of us, whilst we will be very familiar with her through her writing we have no real idea about her. There is so little. So it was with some amazement that I stumbled across this little peice of tv gold on the East Anglian Film Archive :
With the winter is coming feel in the air the bird feeders are alive with birds. The tits (great, blue, long tail, and coal) seem to be especially abundant this year. Which on the one hand I love to watch the highly entertaining circus acrobatics from the kitchen window. On the other hand my car gets parked under this tree – so either it has to be cleaned every time I use it or I rock up to where ever with a white on blue Jackson Pollock paint job. Which, as you can no doubt imagine, results in glances of shock and awe in the eyes of friends, family and strangers. Have resorted to pulling a tarp over the poor wee Fiesta when not in use.
We have also had the odd VIP guest not least of which was the woodpecker, but more recently we have had a regular visitations by a greenfinch (Chloris chloris). I was inspired by its beautiful colours, subtle chartreusey greens and grays with a brilliant flash of golden yellow under its wings. NOTE: How impressed was I when I popped out with the camera just now to take above photo of tits on fat balls and the damn thing showed up as if on que! So, after moaning about lack of time in the workshop I spent a happy moment dyeing up some Romney top from Romney Marsh Wools. More on Romney Marsh Wools in a later post.
I used a low immersion kettle method and a range of greys, two chartreuse greens and a gold yellow. I think I used too much water in the kettle and lost the bright yellow splashes I was aiming for. On the whole though I’m really pleased with the result. Will definitely be repeating this one.