I have managed to lose myself for quite a few hours over the past two days, pottering about with the dye-pots. It’s no mean feat these days to achieve that sort of peace, and I am grateful for this absorbing interest in natural dyes, slow stitching and making or up cycling clothes that feel satisfying and ethical to wear.
In my short experience with indigo vats I have had very mixed results; I have worked only with fructose vats, because I do not want to use harsh chemicals, but have found them temperamental [maybe reflecting my own states of mind on occasion!] and have been often disappointed with the depth of blue achieved. I’ve also had problems with splodges forming on garments, and with the colour washing out [but not the splodges, sadly !], and am learning to respect every step of the process, and to really build up a close observation and understanding of the vat. And as with all natural dyeing, to be PATIENT…waiting for the reduction to take place, sometimes over several days if it’s a revamp of the vat; and really checking the ph and the colour.
This latest time I decided to try a henna vat, and have been delighted with the depth of blue in my new dress, hand stitched as taught by India Flint in one of her wonderful workshops and made out of silky merino [from Beautiful Silks]: will add some pockets and patches and it will be done!
I am also finding that I could revive this vat a couple of days later much more effectively than I have achieved so far, and am in the process of over-dyeing some other garments…more pics later.
So inspired by wonderful March workshop with India Flint; sometimes [rarely] a class can be life-changing: having already been starting to learn to construct simple wearable pieces with cloths woven on the Saori loom, India’s Second Skin class taught me that I can make simple garments stitched by hand with lovely natural or recycled fabrics, then dye them in the ways I have been learning to do, with plants and natural mordants; a meditative and gentle process that feels totally right to do, and causes no harm. So I find myself enjoying wearing the garments that I am making; I love the comfort of them, and the ethos of them, they make me feel connected to the earth. Community awareness of the destruction the textiles industry is inflicting on the environment, and the exploitation of its workers, is growing; as with food, it is impossible to un-know the realities of mass production and of the inherent problems with the toxins in synthetic materials once we understand them; and the power we have is to individually change our own approach first.
Have spent a week here in our holiday cottage stitching some simple dresses, skirts and tunics with Marion’s lovely silky merino [Beautiful Silks at Allansford]; and now the cauldron is simmering with local eucalyptus leaves and bits of metal [the Daylesford market is a treasure house for old metal discards!] and garments being bundled with autumn leaves, eucalyptus leaves and sundry other mark-making bits and pieces…………..as the garments come out of the pot it is always a surprise; the beauty of this method is that if the surprise is not entirely positive, there are always ways to cut/patch/cover/re-dye!!
In between the stitching and the dyepots, lots of long walks in the glorious autumn landscape; a beautiful environment to work in and be inspired by: