A sparkle of light in the bleak midwinter...

Hey folks, it's been a wee while since my last post. It's that time of year, between Christmas and New Year when the days are so short that we seem to live in perpetual darkness. Still, there are a good few hours of daylight and some colour if you look for it.

Hope you all had a nice Christmas, despite the restrictions in place everywhere. After some thought, I decided to travel at the beginning of December, despite all the risks, to visit my family in Romania for the holidays. Things change by the day and flights are cancelled at short notice, so I hope to be back home sometime in January, all being well. So far I managed to stay safe, and everyone I know as well, so that's a lot to be thankful for. Took a few snapshots through my brief walks in the town, so deserted now because of the pandemic.

We went for walks in the woods and nature never ceases to amaze me. I love to go foraging, and wherever I go I always find some interesting things to try in the dye pot. We were walking among oaks in the woods and stumbled upon some strange looking things among the leaf litter which at first I thought were some fungi, but at closer inspection turned out to be oak galls, which had me super excited as these are used in the dye industry for their high tannin content and usually can only be purchased from specialist suppliers. So me and my little nieces picked a bagful of them. I'm drying them now and will grind them into a powder to use as a dye, which gives a nice tan colour and will not wash out. This stuff was used by leather tanners from times immemorial. These galls are the result of a tiny wasp which punctures the oak leaf to lay its eggs and the plant releases some tannin which forms this spongy blister where the larvae grows. When it's ready to leave, it punctures the bubble and emerges, leaving a tiny puncture mark on the surface of each oak gall. The galls are fused to the oak leaves and fall to the ground in autumn. And voila the result.

Also picked oak leaves, to try some eco-printing with very little of my usual equipment at hand, walnut leaves and some nuts in their husks still hanging on the bare tree.

Once we were home, I couldn't wait to try some dyeing and printing. The next day I went to buy some fabric, cheap plain cotton sheet and the experimenting began. Had some nice results, considering I had none of the necessary mordant materials. Take a look:

So this is what I got up to before Christmas. Now I'm playing around with some avocado pits left over from my guacamole and pomegranate skins left after using the fleshy inside for a cake. I will post the results in my next post. The results of these simple experiments will be used in my future projects, as I intend to work more with cotton and wool and make new lovely things. Watch this space. I'm also starting a new course in January, to learn more about indigo dyeing and other interesting things. Next year will be one of colour and detail on cloth, whatever else this Covid might throw at us.

I wish you all a Happy 2021, where hopefully we can all move around freely again. Stay safe!

Best wishes,


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