Last weekend I went on a lovely 3 day course with the wonderful Alex Madden - naturaldyepot.wordpress.com.
It took place at her house in a gorgeous village called Coleshill. A friend, Liz, (who I had met on another workshop that Alex was helping to run alongside another lovely lady, Jane Meredith at plantdyedwool.co.uk), and I were fortunate to stay with a lovely couple, Linda and Colin, and were made very welcome. I had a lovely view across the churchyard.
Alex, along with Dan and Jennifer, made it a great weekend. We were learning so much that we were exhausted - but happy - when it came time to leave.
We learnt about dying natural fabrics, especially silk, using plant materials foraged from the garden and countryside, and how to use different mordants to bring out the dyes. My hands still show some of the colours, even after scrubbing!!
We started by sewing silk and other materials randomly onto paper and bundling huge amounts of leaves inside - with glorious results.
Then we placed leaves how we wanted on silk then rolled the fabric round a stick or a piece of iron or copper, and boiled it in different concoctions.
|The leaves laid on the cloth.|
|The the bundle rolled up.|
When they came out of the pots they looked pretty unappetising!
But then glorious patterns and colours!! We were all like big kids, and got so excited when we were allowed to unwrap the bundles!!!
We ended up with 9 squares of silk which we sewed together and then cut into 4 which could then be rearranged into a scarf.
|Liz produced this particularly lovely square.|
We then tried to put what we had learnt to use in trying to make a scarf from butter muslin but this time trying to produce a clear print from leaves. This was then put into an iron bath - hence the dark purples and black.
I had also taken along some cotton cloth from an old french sheet.
One of the great things about the workshop -apart from the amazing food and great company - was the fact that we could do this at home without any specialist equipment and just play! Hence I have already started my ash and iron potions!!! - thanks Dan for the rusty iron to get me started!!
And finally - the food - aaahh, we don't have long enough - suffice to say the lunches were glorious, along with the flapjacks and cakes - recipes, please, Alex! And Dan very kindly made us walnut and seed bread that we could take away. I made the mistake of having the warm walnut bread beside me in the car while driving to see a friend near Gatwick. Mmmm!!! Liz and I also had the added bonus of being invited to have dinner on Sunday night with Linda and Colin. A really lovely evening - and vegetarian food is now firmly on the menu!
Alex was the perfect teacher, continually giving us a ton of information, answering questions, but all in a very relaxed, enjoyable manner.
A perfect weekend.