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Posts Tagged ‘natural dyes’

At In The Stitch Zone, the weekly embroidery class I run locally (information in the tab at the top) we’re working on a longer project based on my avocado dyed long cloth which I began back in 2011 and am still stitching into on an occasional basis.

Avocado long cloth 1

Time to make up packs of natural dyed fabrics, threads, lace, ribbon etc. for everyone. I found some avocado, red cabbage and walnut dyed fabrics from sessions I’d done before, which was a good start.  I’d only even dyed with red cabbage and a touch of vinegar, so hearing that you could get an amazing range of greens with bicarbonate of soda I decided to experiment. The greens really are gorgeous – especially against some avocado and red cabbage (with vinegar) dyed pieces!

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DSCN7529 As I dye everything in the kitchen using my ordinary utensils, I don’t mordant and only use food stuffs as dyes. I know red cabbage is supposed to be fugitive, but some of the pieces I found (admittedly in a drawer) from the last lot of dyeing I did are eight or nine years old and are still a lovely colour.

I also bought some annatto seeds from our local oriental grocer and they were an complete revelation! Bright orange initially with golden yellow as the dye bath became exhausted and they even dyed a piece of nylon lace (which I unfortunately forgot to get a photo of…) No filter needed on these silk samples.

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As the annatto seeds are incredibly hard and I didn’t want to stain the coffee grinder bright orange, I crushed some in a pestle and mortar and when that got too difficult, just put the whole lot into the slow cooker to create the dye bath. Then, of course, they were nice and soft, so after I’d done the first lot of dyeing, I whizzed them up in the food processor (didn’t stain it, I’m glad to report!) and got a second dye bath out of the pulverised seeds. A softer golden yellow, but still lovely.

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Packs for everyone plus some spares.

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They are slowly turning into some gorgeous pieces of work!

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October’s Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a brilliantly packed full day workshop with Fran Holmes based on teabags.

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Fran brought along loads of samples she had stitched using a base of dyed, opened out and ironed teabags with added lace and hand and machine embroidery for inspiration.

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Then it was our turn. We had been asked to bring some tea bags of our own, and I was quite pleased with the effect where a fruit tea bag had leaned up against an ordinary one and they two had bled into each other, but mine were nothing compared with the amazing patterns Fran had got on the ones she had done for us in our kits.

We experimented with all sorts of things, including various iron on products, foils, printing, inks, paints and stamps and so busy was the day that I didn’t actually add any stitching until the afternoon!

We ended up with four different bases for further stitching.

The first two were a mixture of lace, tea bags and net.

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I added some watercolour detailing on the lace flowers of this one.

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Then a base for stamping in acrylics.

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And lastly one with a subtle shimmery foil underlay which I layered with torn silk ribbon and a stamp.

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All four lovely backgrounds, ready for stitching.

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I finally managed a few french knots…

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Great workshop and lovely to do something outside my usual range.

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The cuff book is finished. But I forgot to take a photo of it! Not that it’s changed much – just had the pages stitched to the spine with a single line of pamphlet stitch, decorated with some seed beads.

So is the leather bracelet. Both flowers completed and three matching quartz bead dangles added.

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I finally found the right size drill bit to make setting the cogs easy for the black and white steampunk brooch and once I’d done that, the finishing was easy.

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Then the embroidered pendant for a bow shaped pendant brooch, missing its drop, was the next to be sorted. It started like this:

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Then I put three pieces of walnut dyed vintage fabric together and secured them with beaded blanket stitch. The back is a damask, the middle canvas and this side is some embroidered net that I always understood was associated with my great-grandmother who died in 1970.

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It was a little dull so I went over some of the pattern with silk threads in faded shabby chic tones …

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…and then hung it from the brooch.

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Rather pleased with myself. And to top all that I’ve even got them listed in my Etsy shop:  Flower bracelet, black and white steampunk brooch and pendant brooch. Wonders will never cease!

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I was delighted to be tagged to take part in this by the very creative, talented and witty Iz, from Threadnoodle and it was lovely to welcome people who had popped over from her blog. So this week is my turn to talk in a bit more depth about myself and my creative process.

I live in North Lincolnshire in the UK although I’m originally, like Dickens’ David Copperfield, from the little village of Blundeston, in Suffolk. Among other things, I’m a writer, a jeweller and textile artist. But not necessarily in that order.

1. What am I working on?

Erm… everything? I have a second book of short stories and a novel both on the go as well as an article which has been back-burnered for various reasons. There’s a box of partly completed rings,

silver acorn ring

pendants and other odds and ends which need finishing.

Norwich stitch pendant

Journals, books and altered books,

York Minster altered book

kits, summer holiday diary fragments,

holiday diary fragment

the crazy patchwork cushion for my son,

James' cushion strip 1

felted and goldwork brooches,

Goldwork brooch

 

my hearts commission,

hearts commission

my rusted fragments art quilt…

rusted fragments art quilt

…you get the picture. I long to have a go at everything and greedily want 36 hours in each day to try, test and explore my latest passion to its full extent.

My latest obsession is upcycled jewellery, whether replacing broken/damaged elements with beads like this vintage necklace…

 

broken vintage wire necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

upcycled m.o.p and haematite necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or adding textile elements – felting and beading…

 

Felted beads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncycled felted bead necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… embroidery or patchwork.

Bullion rose upcycled pendant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

upcycled patchwork earrings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love being able to make something from bits that someone else has discarded as worthless. Little things fascinate me too, and each of the projects is so small that I can be almost finished before I start to get bored. I really admire people with the stickability to work on large ongoing projects, but that’s not me. Whatever I do tends to be small, detailed, and precise, whether it’s stitched into fabric, wrought from metal, words on a page or even part of a show in theatre. For me, the devil (and the interest) is in the detail.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

That’s a difficult one. As regards my jewellery, with its mix of metalworking and fine embroidery, I’ve certainly never seen anything quite like it. There are other artists who create  jewellery with textile components, but it seems to fall into two categories – fairly traditional jewellery shapes such as earring drops, pendant and rings set with pieces of textile work, or textile work with metal findings to make it into earrings, pendants, brooches etc. I do both…

Turquoise spiral brooch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bullion rose upcycled pendant

…but prefer to do neither

Moss mixed media pendant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indigo book charm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suppose that everything we do is unique, but at the same time, everything we create is the result of our experiences. I’ve often thought that if we could break down the DNA of a piece, trace its bloodline of influences and inspirations, it would be fascinating to see precisely how it was born from the tiny fragments we draw from so many things we’ve seen, done and experienced.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Every project gives me pleasure to work and it also gives me pleasure to see how it is received by other people but essentially I create because I need to. Like so many creative people, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t create, from wobbly junk models and roughly stitched dolls’ clothes to furnishings for my doll’s house and stories set in imagined worlds.

It’s my way of responding to something of the beauty in the world I see around me, my way of revelling in the power of fashioning something that is mine alone. I bend the media to my will and I say how it turns out – mostly!

4. How does my creative process work?

The first thing to fire it off is usually a single item but it can be anything: a bead, a thread, some fabric, a fragment of something, an image or artefact. The alliums piece below was the response to the challenge, ‘A flower beginning with ‘A’ for an Embroiderer’s Guild competition.

Alliums sketchbook page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alliums hanging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An idea from a curtain I saw on a course

kantha patches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and an image from a dream…

Dream kantha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It can be a very dangerous process to sort through my stuff – I get sidetracked onto new projects very easily!

In terms of how things then evolve, I let my creative subconscious do a lot of the work. Usually I have clear idea of the starting point and an image of roughly what the end point will look like (I write like this too). Then it’s a case of starting and seeing how and where things go. If I get stuck I just walk away for a while and its unusual for that break not to have straightened things out in my head.  If I’m lucky, things work out as well, or sometimes even better than I’d hoped. If not, then it’s good to learn from your mistakes and chances are, I can always turn it into something else one day…

Phew! I think that’s the wordiest post I’ve ever put up! If you’re still with me, then please go and visit my two nominated bloggers.

Firstly, Debbie at Debbidipity. I met Debbie at our Embroiderers’ Guild when I joined several years ago and we’ve been good friends ever since. In the last 5 years, as a mature student, she’s done ‘A’ levels in Art and Photography and then followed them up with a Fine Art degree at Hull. She likes to experiment with all sorts of media and her inspirations are rooted strongly in the natural world that she loves.

From the local to the other side of the pond and Penny at Art Journey. Penny creates wonderful textile artwork in areas that I don’t tend to dabble in but love to look at – punch-needle, doll-making and beading are some of her latest delights, and I consider myself very lucky to have Valentine, one of her wonderful unique dolls sitting on my shelf watching me as I type.

Penny's Valentine

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the next stage of the bloghop!

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I was given a Moleskine notebook for Christmas and decided to use it as an ad hoc journal. I wrote a page in the local leisure centre cafe in January when I was waiting for my little one to finish her tennis lesson and decorated the facing page with some of my latte. A couple of months later I added a splash of Twinings Apple Crunch tea and then decided to use the string snipped off the teabag to cross stitch through the page.

Why? enquired my bemused husband. To echo my teenage middle one: just ’cause I can!

Teas and coffee! 1

Last week I had vivid pink Cranberry and raspberry tea and as I was finishing off a canvaswork brooch, I also had some offcuts of canvas. Not only could I add the colour to the page, I could use the teabag to dye the canvas and the string of the tea bag and then use one to stitch on the other!

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So there you have it: cushion stitch in fruit tea dyed tea bag string on a fragment of fruit tea dyed canvas with a pale lilac splodge of the same tea in the background.

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Just ’cause I can!!

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There is more ongoing in my Cornwall Holiday journal but things are impossibly busy at the moment and I’ve a sea glass commission on the go so the journal pages have stalled.

Towards the end of the holiday I took the girls to visit my parents in Suffolk and incidentally scored the biggest piece of blue sea glass I’ve ever found on Southwold beach. Very pleased with that!

Southwold beach glass 8.13

On the way home we decided to visit Oxburgh Hall.

Oxburgh Hall

I’ve been before but not with the girls…

Sunflowers!

…and after they had posed as sunflowers, we had a lovely time exploring this gorgeous house. On the way through the wooded area to the loos I found some green walnuts and collected a handful to try some natural dyeing.

Back home, chopped small and boiling in my dye pan.

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And after straining the liquid, this was the result on a range of fabrics.

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I clamped, tied and knotted a few of them before I put them in the pot.

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Knotted silk.

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Silk French lace over silk mix velvet.

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I’d been clearing out the freezer and found some avocado skins and stones so I added them to the first walnut dye bath and went for another batch. There’s not much difference in the colour but I think the brown is a bit warmer and pinkier with the avocado added.

walnut and avocado 1

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Some threads.

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A bigger piece of silk dupion dyed in walnut first and then overdyed in walnut and avocado. There is a subtle difference but it’s not very clear in the photo.

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Glad I spotted them on the floor among the vegetation and leaves!

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“…the merrow took up her story stick; shook it until the clattering of stone and bone brought silence and then began her tale…”

Story sticks 1

This is the piece I created to go with the first full day of our holiday, Sunday 11th August. We spent a wonderful afternoon and early evening at a quiet, secluded and sandy beach just north of Padstow and these were some sticks that I picked up at the top of the beach.

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I had no fixed idea of what I wanted to do with them, but later that evening I decided to start wrapping them and embroidering around them, much to the bemusement of some of the rest of the party.

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This one, with its lovely weathered ends, has been wrapped with a soft slubby browny grey blue thread, overwrapped with a variegated turquoise silk thread and embellished with tiny turquoise chips, stitched down with a fine silk thread which shades from sand through to sea.

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The middle one was wrapped with a hand dyed silk strip at one end and then over with various other hand dyed threads.  which were left loose to form a tassel to which I added a brass dragonfly charm to remind me of the huge dragon flies we often see here and also some beads and sodalite chips.

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There is some needle weaving at the end of the silk wrapping and some buttonhole stitch over the longer threads in the middle. The slubby thread at the ends has been criss-crossed and a cream buttonhole thread used to tie the crosses together.

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For the last one I had some variegated thread I wanted to showcase, so after I’d tied some scraps of silk round the stick…

Story sticks 7a

…I wrapped most of the rest of it in the thread.

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Some detached buttonhole stitch just to see if it would  work, and then the ends of the silk were finished with little Fimo charms and a cluster of beads.

Story sticks 8

All three story sticks were then stitched onto a piece of my own eucalyptus hand dyed silk matka.

Who knows what stories the merrow (the mer-folk) might tell with them.

Story sticks 9

Also…

Hawker's Cove scallop shells 1

Hawker's Cove scallop shells 2

More treasure from the sea.

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