Thursday 28 July

Plant based bundle dye workshop at Hauser + Wirth Somerset


This workshop considers environmentally conscious processes for dying silk. Plant extracts, bark powders and fresh flowers and herbs are used with a steaming process in place of chemical dyes and methods. We used a bundle fold process to create repeat patterns over a longer run of fabric. I was interested in this process because of the implications that dying has on the environment,  being on of the largest causes of environmental water pollutant. The workshop examined the use of natural dyes through plants as well as the healing properties that could potentially be imbued within the fabric. Herbalism has been recorded and transcribed throughout history with significant pharmacopoeia and compendium being The Canon of Medicine, 1025 by Avicenna, Materia Medica, 1334 by Discorides andNicholas Culpeper's The English Physician Enlarged 1653. A significant amount of knowledge around herbalism was lost during the horrific witch trials of early modern Europe when the research and investigation that these women had carried out was also destroyed.

We were asked to consider the healing property of plants as well as psychological and personal narrative significance that plants might possess.

The selection of plants that I used (roses, cornflower, dill, oakwood powder) were ones that I was initially attracted to but also  reminded me of my childhood and narratives around journeys - from the flower beds of my parents garden through to the fleeting images of fields and the English countryside on our way to holidays and day trips. I chose the folded method because I wanted the cloth to mirror the repetitive nature of these journeys - not in a monotonous way but reflecting the beauty of expectation and familiarity. The natural fading of the patterns reflects the failing memory, which is then refilled when the journey is taken again. Stronger memories are prominent stains; single memories that last. These are surrounded by feint marks; distant ghost memories.

After the workshop, I began to consider how this could connect to my project and how the process could work with lichen which are recurring images and themes throughout my book. Further research suggests that the extract of lichen would produce intense colour. I'd like to experiment with the process to see if the saturation of colour from the lichen would alter, be less vivid if the lichen has been affected by pollution. I plan to bundle die collected windfall lichen as well as trying to distil some pure pigment form the lichen itself through a cold extraction process, to then use for screen-printing.

The process of the workshop run by Botanical inks (www.botanicalinks.com) is outlined in pictures below from the spreading of the plants and flowers to the bundling and steaming process. The silk is currently curing after which it will be set through ironing and washed in a PH neutral soap.