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The Joy of Natural Dyes

Natural Dyes have been an obsession of mine for a very long time. For those that don't know me I was a (very) mature student at UCA Rochester, where I studied Fashion textiles:Print. I experimented a lot at university with plant matter, especially Eucalyptus, I used it everywhere! for dying, as a resist with sublimation (heat activated ink), as an image on a silk screen and physically printing leaf shapes onto fabric - it is amazing stuff.

Since university I have carried on studying and have attended a fabulous residential course by Sarah Burns, Patternmaker at Dartington Trust in Devon, read wonderful books by India Flint and Rebecca Desnos and experimented with lots of different plant matter.

Sarah Burns is particularly inspiring to me, she like me had a career as far away from printing as it is possible to be before going on to study a subject that we really loved, although I think she was quite a bit younger than me when she went to uni. However, we both had to work incredibly hard and came away with first class degrees for our efforts!

Sarah has her own studio in East Sussex and runs the most superb classes which cover all of the aspects of natural dyes and Lino block printing with natural matter. They are longer and more in depth than my workshops but if you have the time well worth a look.

Sarah has co written a book about the 1930's Duo Barren and Larcher, who block handprinted with natural dyes for the rich and famous - their designs were awesome . the book is well worth a read and is beautifully illustrated for anyone that is interested

One of my natural dye experiments with Sarah Burns at Dartington Hall

Another of those Dartington Trust experiments

India Flint is an awe inspiring artist and clothing maker who uses plant matter from around her Australian home to create the most amazing shades

I This is her website, again beautifully presented and such gorgeous imagery.

I adore this photograph from India's website, it shows how messy you get with natural dyes

The was the photograph that started my obsession with eco print and eucalyptus

the third person who has really inspired me to really get involved in natural dyes is Rebecca Desnos, she offers a simple mordant of fabrics and is so generous with her information , that is has allowed me to explore and play around with plant matter and to start work on that dye garden. I know it will take a couple of years to establish my garden enough to share with students so this year I will forage for plants and also supplement this with dried plant powders. I can't wait for the spring when we can dye our fabrics and leave them to dry outside the studio. Please do check the website out as I'm starting to list natural dye classes right now.

This is a link to Rebeccas book


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