Thursday, 16 August 2012

Naturally Dyed

I have been using the excuse of waking up the textiles shop to fill as a reason for indulging my love of dyeing with plants. I grow a fair few of them myself and as such, it's a bit of a slow process, waiting for things to be big enough and (this year particularly) waiting for things to flower.

There are a number of plants that I don't (or can't grow) so for now, I've been playing with those. And I have been dyeing pretty much everything I can get my hands on

There are embroidery threads:



and a whole stack of mixed threads for embroidery and textile art:

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Barbecued Pots Part 2

So, after leaving things to smoke and smoulder for several hours, the contraption was cool enough to open.

The wood underneath had burnt away and the shavings were reduced to a fine crumbly ash, as had much of the seaweed. I had expected it to burn away completely but it was still there

(sorry about the picture quality - the camera objected to taking photos of dark things at dusk)

So, a bit of cleaning and we had 6 pots of assorted shades of grey. What hadn't worked was the bean tin saggars - the shavings were still completely uncombusted. The answer to that was simple

1 enthusiastic pyromanic + 1 restored Victorian kick-forge

= 1 collection of smokefired beads and buttons

The pots and  beads are now for sale here

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Lavender's Blue

...dilly dilly...

Well, it used to be. It also used to be pink, purple, white and in one amazing plant, green.

When we first moved here, part of the attraction was more land. I had a burgeoning herb plant business, supplying small food shops and a regular farmers market stall. I was, despite a reasonably large garden, fast running out of space.

We moved and I set up greenhouses, bought a polytunnel and plants and business continued to grow.

Then, in June 2007 it rained. And it never really stopped. And on the 25th, the land gave up. The river burst her banks and the water table rose. The garden was underwater, the house was flooded and I was 5 months pregnant and as agile as a beached whale


The water came up very fast. Overnight, it went down again, leaving mud and devastation. We were luckier than many, but of what we lost, the most precious was my business.

Every single plant for the herb business was gone. All stock, all parent plants, all seedlings and cuttings. Some were rare, some were special and some were (and are) irreplaceable.

It still hurts.

Since then, I've ignored herbs. Concentrated on getting the house finished, the garden resurrected, keeping Little Button out of trouble and the haberdashery business. But recently, ideas have started creeping back. I found some old copies of The Lavender Bag and though reading through the lists of plants and seeing familiar names made my heart hurt and reminded me of everything that went sailing merrily down the river that night, I was excited. Though we are (again) getting short of land, there is still a patch of unclaimed wilderness/rubble that could be cleared. We could make raised beds there and a sand bed for cuttings. Little Button will be at school in September and there will be a fraction more time.  This winter the greenhouse will go back up and there will be more growing space.

I think I may have found myself a new project!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Buttons and Ribbons

Summer is the quiet time

No, scratch that. Summer is the quiet time for selling buttons and ribbons, as I'm spending most waking hours outside battling the wilderness and trying to coerce recalcitrant poultry into doing what they are told

A job that goes about as well as you might expect.

Been a  bit damp, this summer, though, so I did for once have time to play

New at PaperSpill are these mixed packs of ribbons and buttons

in rose

and in winter red

Monday, 18 June 2012

Barbecued Pots Part 1

I love smoke-firing. I love the unpredictability of it.

What I didn't love was having to get the The Boss to fire up the forge and the fact we could only do things small enough to fit in a baked bean can.

So when our friendly, neighbourhood flytippers dumped a barbecue, himself was sent straight out to fetch it home. It was a little wonky but 5 minutes with an angle grinder chopped all the legs down to the same height, and wedged in the soft sandy soil of the riverbank, it was just fine.

And so, we got started on very small pit-firing.

First in was a stack of kindling, laid as flat as possible and the grid put back

On top of this went a layer of wood shavings and assorted 'organics' from the duck and goose shed

While The Boss was busily building pyres, I was adding various things to the bisque pots

There are 2 tin cans of beads, packed in more shavings. Sulphur powder was added to one, Bordeaux mixtures (copper sulphate and lime) to another. Wetted fine seaweed was draped over one terracotta bowl and dried seaweed wrapped around another. The larger bowl was filled with seaweed and wrapped in foil - an impromptu saggar. One white saucer was left plain.

A few pyromaniac moments later and the kindling started. The idea is that the shaving smoulder, rather than burning, with the assorted organics creating different colours.

We left it to smoulder...

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Hello? Hello?

Sooo, another great long gap in blogging. Haven't really got the hang of this, yet. Ho Hum.

However, the new years resolution is to be a bit more consistent (what do you mean, it's June?)

so in between setting fire to things

dyeing things

restocking the hen house

and a bit of sewing

I shall try to get back here a bit more often.