But when the chance came to spend a week at Big Cat Studio in Newburgh, learning about Ecological Methods of Dyeing Cellulose Fibres with Michel Garcia, I jumped at it.
Fifteen eager students gathered on the Monday morning, and we worked together, learned and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves for five very full days. Each day we were fed a delicious and nutritious lunch by Alison and the Big Cat team. Some people stayed overnight in Newburgh but our days were so busy that I was glad to be at home at night.
On day 1 we learned about plants which accumulate aluminium in their leaves and can be used as mordants. We also learned how to properly scour and prepare cellulose fibres to get the v=best results in our dyeing. We used Symplocos, Camellia and Lycopodium as mordants, and tried them out with Weld, Madder, Cochineal, Cosmos and Logwood dyes.
|Samples dyed using Symplocos leaves as mordant. Clockwise from top left: cochineal, Logwood 5%, Logwood 20%, madder, cosmos, weld+logwood, logwood 100%, weld|
|Nine mordants painted in stripes, dyed with weld|
|Samples dyed with fresh weld|
|Front: white clover. Eucalyptus. Silver Birch. back: Sweet Cicely|
|Silver birch bark straight from the log|
|Extracting dye from eucalyptus bark|
|The white clover dyebath|
|Discharge prints - logwood and cochineal on ferrous mordant discharged with a cut lemon|
Thursday and Friday were given over to Indigo. More chemistry!
|Beautiful bubbles are dark blue!|
I also made and shibori-stitched two kimono-style jackets from vintage linen, which were too big for our individual vats so they were dipped in the large class vat.
|Cotton yarn. From bottom: indigo, overdyed with weld+cochineal, overdyed with weld, overdyed with cochineal, overdyed with cosmos|