A few weeks ago we ran a dye workshop at the nearby Wilton Estate.  As well as some residents, we got a handful students from the University of the Arts studying a variety of subjects.  The majority, as usual, were women but one man, Lewis, took particular interest. He is studying 3D design and is coming up to his final submission.  He emailed a week or so ago saying he’d like to make some linen lampshades using natural dyes for the colour, so we did a test swatch on the washed and loose-woven linen he brought.  Our main ingredients were red onion, hollyhocks, beetroot leaves, iris berries and something yellow that we forgot to note.  The steam of about half an hour produced rich and deep colours. We were both pleased with the results.  Instead of payment, I said Lewis could help harvest the hollyhock flowers later in the summer but he told me that his father, a former fireman, now makes resin moulds of mushrooms.  I’m quite keen on one of those – if you’re reading this Lewis.

Nice to have inspired someone.  Lewis told me that one of the other students had dyed a lining (of what he wasn’t sure) with rhubarb leaves.  A small revolution.  I hope.

Lewis strewing his linen with red onion skins.
Lewis strewing his linen with red onion skins.
Red onion, hollyhock, beetroot leaves are the main ingredients.
The linen is rolled up and tied around a stick then steamed for about half an our.
The linen is rolled up and tied around a stick then steamed for about half an hour.
Then unrolled
Then unrolled.  It does look a bit like some violent act has taken place.
The result is a rich, dark watercolour effect.
This is the final product, dyed with beetroot and onion skins.
This is the final product, dyed with beetroot and onion skins.

 

 

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