Natural Dye Day Workshop 2015
A Natural Dye Day at Dodges Ferry
After a wobbly weather forecast earlier in the week, the weather gods performed beautifully for my first exposure to natural dyeing with plants. It was a gloriously sunny morning as I arrived at Carol Kingston’s home, our very generous host. Most of the crowd gathered around Carol for some pre dyeing discussion about what she has experienced with natural dyestuffs and we were all given a fireplace to keep stoked up to bring our pots of lovely plants to a boil. It did look like a coven as we all stirred our pots full of plant stuffs. It must be quite a sight to the uninitiated.
We were all keen to get started and we had pre-mordanted some of our fibre and fabrics with alum ready to pop into pots. But wait, there was something else we could do...really?
Contact dyeing. There were flowers, gum nuts, nails, leaves and more to tie up into our fabrics before we dyed them. I had two small silk scarves of which the first I tied a piece of iron plate and continued to roll in Eucalyptus leaves, lilli pilli berries and leaves, and bark. I put this one into a pot of Native Cherry designated for items with iron in them. The second scarf was rolled around a piece of flexible conduit that has ridges along it. Included were whole dried roses, whole lilli pilli leaves, berries and Eucalyptus cordata leaves, amongst other things. Tied tight with string I popped this one into the Eucalyptus (silver peppermint) pot. The rest of my pre-mordanted yarns were placed into other pots. We had many to choose from; Eucalyptus cordata, Lilli Pilli, Stinging nettle, Native Cherry (with and without iron), Coffee grounds, Eucalyptus nicholai, and Onion skins. As the pots began to boil more samples were added, with the keen onlookers excited about what the results will bring constantly peering into pots.
The saying that patience is a virtue definitely applied that day. So we waited, and waited, and had morning tea, and stoked the fires, and waited and had lunch, and waited some more.... we laughed, told stories and were entertained by some peoples impatience as they paced back and forth to stir the pots.
Our patience was finally rewarded! What great results everyone had. I was definitely excited by my results.
With yellows, greens, fawns, black, greys and the coveted red-brown that the cordata produced, we all oohed and aahed at each other’s finished goodies. I had a great day! And from all the smiles everyone else did too.
Well, my perception of natural dyes was that it was always a bit blah and ho hum, but today certainly changed that and I will definitely go on to do more natural dyeing at home. Who’d have thought it!
A big thank you must go out to our hostess Carol Kingston who allowed us all to descend onto her home, and for her knowledge. In addition, thank you to Cathy Hodgman for organising the day. Another fantastic event from the Guild.
From a new happy member of the dyeing coven.