Easter 2017; a collection of dye-plant seeds introduced the wild into Chelsea printroom. The seeds were chosen for a diverse range of colours; Weld (yellow), Woad (blue), Coreopsis (orange), Chamomile (yellow) and Hollyhocks (purple-black). We already had a 2-year old Madder plant whose roots would soon be ready to yield red. The seeds germinated into a straggly array of plants, which rapidly needed more space and light. The fortunate plants were potted into recycled dye buckets, and taken outside. The remainder stayed on the printroom windowsill; reminding students of the provenance of natural dyestuffs.
Tiny quantities of Coreopsis and Chamomile flowers were ready to harvest in July. Majority of the silk was pre-mordanted with Alum.
Research exploring screen printing with natural dye extracts. An ongoing project; to consider some different, more sustainable and environmental practices in the print and dye workshop.
The hanging fabric scrolls are workbooks showing different dye mixtures and concentrations. Dye colours may change depending upon the type of fabric they have been printed onto.
In the cabinet are experimental prints; undertaken to understand how the natural dyes react to each other, to the fabric, and to different chemicals.
Eight natural dye extracts have been used in this work; cutch, madder, weld, lac, chloropyllin, fustic, logwood and brazilwood.
Fabric was mordanted prior to printing with either alum or aluminium acetate.
Each dye extract has been given a unique print design; this allows the dominant dye extract to be identified in an experimental sample.
Colour can be altered by additions of other natural dyes, or by using colour modifiers, for example:
Iron – saddens and darkens
Citric acid – brightens or discharges
Cream of tartar – brightens and lightens.
Foraging, and concocting; with help of expert tutor Penny Walsh, I learnt to use mordants and natural dyes to produce an array of colours. I was astonished at the depth and vibrancy of the colours achieved.