April Journal quilt

Coming home down the lane a few days ago, the fields were full of oil seed rape in full flower.  Such a vivid colour.

April fields of gold


I dyed a piece of thin calico using a strong lemon yellow solution which is the exact colour of the rape.  The fields have lines where the tractor has been, they are not one block of colour and there are trees and shrubs bordering them.  I wanted a totally abstract approach which conveyed the impression I get when looking at the fields.

more plant dyeing

A few more experiments:

Bundle 5: silk, organza, thin cotton.  Slices of radish, pieces of pomegranate, some bolted red cabbage leaves and a rooibos teabag sprinkled over the whole piece, around copper pipe.  This had some success, except for the cabbage leaves that didn’t work at all, so I redyed the whole lot with the cotton on the inside as this had the fewest marks on it from the previous time:  more radish slices (these were plants left in from last year, so quite woody, but they still yielded good impressions), 4 calendula flowers, dandelion flowers, leaves and root, pomegranate skins, pinch of black tea:

piece of silk fabric:


The radish is very clear and the yellow mainly from the dandelion and calendula.



I think the above two pieces are really successful.  Silk does dye more easily than cotton with copper as the mordant.

The cotton was still not very interesting so I gave it a final 30 minute steam this time around a rusted iron pipe and some wire wool, with a little black tea, the same calendula flowers and pomegranate skins:


This is half the piece. The tannin of black tea certainly darkens the piece.

Plant dyes

I have become more and more interested in trying out plant dyes, particularly as I have so many possibilities growing in the garden.  There were a couple of old red cabbages that had bolted, so having researched the web and found references to making bundles (thanks especially to Wendy Feldberg), this is how I decided to proceed.  All bundles were first soaked in a 20-25 % vinegar solution, then steamed for a couple of hours. turning the bundle over half way through.   I unwrapped them the following day.  I know some people leave them for much longer – I should experiment, but am impatient by nature!

Bundle one: Red cabbage leaves, including green ones up the stem,  2 calendula flowers, loose black tea leaves around rusted tongs.

4 pieces of fabric, from inner to outer: medium weight silk:


thin old sheeting: (the red marks bottom right are from a previous bit of printing)


silk organza:


silk, with some matted pieces of wire wool (already rusted) between these two last layers:


I used some knobbly wool and cotton string to bind the bundles, which you can really see in this last piece.  I neutralised the rust with baking soda solution,  but there is quite a patina on this last piece, so I am not sure what will happen.   I think the almost black colours come from the combination of rust and tea.

Bundle two : cabbage leaves, spent daffodil flowers,  pinch of black tea rolled and bound around a copper pipe.

Inner layer, silk.  The effect is much more subtle, but the colours are beautiful:


Outer layer was a thick curtain cotton that didn’t work very well.

Bundle three: red cabbage, spent daffodils, pinch of black tea, pomegranate skins, around copper pipe:

Inner layer silk:


I did think the pomegranate skins might need to be soaked, but they have left their mark, as well as the subtle blue from the cabbage.

Outer layer thin cotton sheeting:



Bundle four : I decided to over-dye some previously rusted fabrics, eucalyptus leaves on stem, pomegranate skins around copper pipe:

Inner layer small piece of cotton with faint rust marks:


silk organza:


Outer layer, muslin.  This is a part of it only:


Wools used for tying bundles: top round the iron tongs, bottom for the copper bundles.