To Dye For

You may know that my DH and I have an allotment.

thumb IMG 1793 1024

You may know that we grow all manner of fruits and vegetables.

IMG 3362

Did you know we also grow flowers?

We don’t grow many but we might start growing more now I’ve discovered the joys of natural dyeing with plants!

Since starting my MA I’ve experimented a little with dyeing using synthetics dyes, which have to be mixed wearing a mask, gloves and a disposable apron as the dyes are carcinogenic in their powder form. It just seems wrong to me! I want a dye I can mix up, use, and pour away on the garden afterwards with no ill effects along the way to myself or my environment.

So I’ve taken my first tentative steps and here are the results.

Using marigolds…

IMG 1479
IMG 1484

and Red cabbage leaves…

IMG 1501
IMG 1504
IMG 1511
IMG 1547
IMG 1548


and a blend of the two.

IMG 1549
IMG 1554
IMG 1557


The patterns are made using the shibori technique of folding and tying, which I want to experiment more with.

The most successful was definitely the marigolds for strength of colour. This fits in more with my preferred palette of deep colours too. The red cabbage was vibrant in the pail but the colour drained from the linen fabric I used as I lifted it out. I like the green but I would have preferred more intensity.

It’s not the best time of year for experimenting with flowers! But I do have some avocado skins and pits in the freezer which apparently work well. We didn’t grow the avocados! And I want to try turmeric.

It’s worth pointing out that not all plants are harmless. If you want to try this yourself, please be aware that some are very poisonous. I’d recommend getting a good book on the subject to start you off. I’ve found Natural Dyes by Linda Rudkin very helpful.

The next post will be about beating nasurtiums into submission with a rubber mallet - a Japanese technique called hapa zome!


This could be the start of something little...

What makes the perfect blog post? 

The perfect, faultless text? The jaw-dropping photos? So often I think I don’t have time to post something good enough, and so the inevitable happens, and I end up not posting anything. Or I think I’ve just got too much to say and the prospect is so daunting.

From here on I have resolved to blogging smaller posts that might not be perfect, or even close, but will get it out there!

So, here goes!

Well, I’m still toddling off to uni on a regular basis. An early start and the promise of a fine day.

My current taught module is called Perspectives and we’ve been looking at The Great Thinkers And Theorists and considering how our work as artists relates to the Big Philosphies. For the lecture this day we went on a walk up Everton Brow in Liverpool, just a little way along from my campus. 

It turned out to be one of the wildest weather days ever! Intrepid! Apologies for the fuzzy photos - it was shiveringly cold!

I can’t believe I haven’t been here before. What an amazing view of the city of Liverpool!

IMG 20171122 113011846
IMG 20171122 114456311

Of course, the sensible thing to do would be to go back on a fine, sunny day. Even so, I could see the arms of the windmill at Bidston Hill and Moel Famau in the distance, the fort at New Brighton and the Irish Sea. I can understand why this is the spot wealthy merchants chose to build their grand houses. Swept away, along with the tenement housing further down the hillside, they were replaced by 60s tower blocks and these have now gone too. Now what remains is a lovely open space.

A monument to the past is the Lock-up, a place where many a drunken scallywag had spent the night. A point for guessing on whose football team crest you might have seen this.

IMG 20171122 120143294

It wasn’t just a fun, but very cold, walk. We did actually learn something, discussing Lefevbre and Malcolm Miles’s take on gentrification of urban spaces.

Here’s my view of what’s coming up next for Liverpool, the Ten Streets project. I could get political, but that would take too long and I promised a short post! Suffice to say, there are pro and cons as always and nothing is ever straightforward in redevelopment of sites. The most  important thing is that the people who currently inhabit the space are consulted.

IMG 1536

Lefevbre is my latest favouite theorist! (It will change next week!) I like the idea that revolution can come about from using a space in a way that is different from its intended purpose, and that my work is different when it inhabits a different space.

That’s all for now, I’ll be back soon!