Natural Dyeing Workshop with Cordwainers Garden

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We started with an introduction from Cordwainers team of Kate Poland and Natalie Mady who showed us some fantastic scarves they had already made and the colours we could expect to get from different plants. Despite the majority of plants giving variations on a yellow theme you can get some wonderful blues, reds, oranges and grey just from tea bags!

Kate also talked us though a brief history of natural dyeing which has been going on for thousands of years – chemical dyes were only introduced in the 1850’s so this is a long established craft that is finally facing a revival.

Once we had learnt the basics we folded some silk dupion which I had prepared with rhubarb mordant and immersed it into a dark hollyhock dye bath to be simmered for thirty minutes….

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The folding techniques used are a form of shibori and produced some interesting results.. the above is mine and was folded into squares held in place with clothes pegs…. once dry the colour is lighter but still a rather luxurious grey blue that shimmers in the light. I am definitely trying this again and all from a few dried flower heads!

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We then moved onto bundle dying with not only items provided by Cordwainers but also freshly picked from our very own garden! The items are placed directly onto the wetted silk chiffon and then wrapped tightly around a stick. This is then in turn wrapped with string or thick thread to secure it and placed into a steamer. Once the bundles have been steamed for 30 minutes they are ready to reveal their magic….

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This again is mine and all I used was hollyhock, purple basil and marigolds. You can see from the close up on the marigolds that you can get a full imprint of petals if lucky…. again a quick and simple thing to do that makes something beautiful with little to no effort and could be steamed over your sunday veggies!

Definitely one of the best classes I had done!


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