Monday, 20 October 2014

Natural dyeing and felt making workshops at Urban Roots, Glasgow

A beautiful range of natural dyed wool. This is the outcome from a couple of sessions of dyeing with natural colours from plants we were growing on the plots from "Urban Roots" in Toryglen and/or collecting in the area. 
Here's how we started in April: We were picking dandelion heads and daffodil heads to dry and later use for dyeing the wool fibers for felting. 

Together with Kathy B., the expert in natural dyeing, and with all the volunteers we made plans what we wanted to grow in the 4 beds which were available for growing the dyeing plants. We did some seed sowing and started to get to know each other a bit. More sowing and planting workshops followed. 
Red onion skin dye
The Summer was warm and dry and only a few plants made it. But we went out into the surrounding area and picked yarrow, Hawthorn blossoms, Ladies Bed Straw, St. John's Wort, Budleia and a few more. Eventually in mid of July we had the first of 4 natural dyeing sessions. It was amazing to see the change of the white Shetland wool or Blue Faced Leicester wool fibers to become dyed into a yellow, beige or red-brown colour! The workshop participants helped with cooling down the liquid for dyeing, pouring it in buckets. We all were excited especially about some really vibrant dyes from Madder Root and from Budleia. The wool was mordanted before it was dyed, so that the wool fibers open up and better absorb the dye. 
Sunflowers for natural dyeing

Elderberry dye

In the mean time, when we were waiting for the dyes to boil, I showed spinning with the drop spindle and felt making and the volunteers had a go on spinning and later felt making as well.
Wet felted shaker

Wet felted leaf shapes
Wet felted leaf shape
Wet felted around a bar of soap
Wet felted around a bar of soap

During the following workshops in August and September we used onion skin, elderberries and sunflowers and cosmos from the garden. The colour range was slowly expanding just missing a blue at the end, because the Woad didn't grow very well in the garden. So maybe next year there will be enough Woad to be harvest for a blue colour shade. 
Needle felted fruit and pumpkin shapes
The colour shades of the natural dyed wool and the autumnal leaves fit perfectly together
On our last workshop, mid of October we went for a walk in Malls Mire wood in lovely warm sunshine and picked a couple of Autumn leaves. We later arranged the leaves around our circle of dyed wool which was mainly in autumnal colours too. 
We actually had a couple more activities during the 8 workshops. E.g. we went for walks to harvest and connect with nature. Once we did eco printing: We used pieces of silk fabric, picked plants and berries and rolled them together with the fabric and put the bundles in boiling water for dyeing.  
Bundles in hot water
Eco print on silk fabric
It was great to work together with Kathy, who's the expert for the natural dyeing. Natural dyeing isn't new to me, but it is a couple of years ago that I gained some experience in it. I got really excited about the many colour shades we had. Thanks for all I've learned and discovered. Hope the
guys had some fun and insights too!
Colour circle with the names of the plants we used.

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