Get some colour in your life

The International Symposium and Exhibition on Natural Dyes, or ISEND 2011 has recently been held in France. I was mosey-ing past India Flint’s blog this morning and folowed her link to the ISEND site where I found a whole lot of short videos about the event.

I haven’t looked at all the videos and they come in a range of languages, so not all may be comprehensible unless your schoolgirl French is a bit better than mine. However I would strongly suggest that you read India’s post about the conference first as she makes some very valid points about people being far less aware than they should be about wild harvesting of plants and animals used for dyeing. Given some of the comments I heard in the videos I watched she is absolutely spot-on. Worth a read and a look.


This is a dyebath I made earlier this year with Eucalyptus cinerea leaves (Argyle Apple), collected from branches blown down from trees in a nearby park after a storm.

Inspiration and response

A woodblock printing workshop with Mr Tatsuya Ito at Megalo print studio + gallery in March encouraged me to re-look at one of the most famous woodblock series printed in Japan, the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. The Brooklyn Museum has a full set of the prints accessible on their website. What is even better is that you can zoom in and look at the details of each print. I became intrigued with the fireworks depicted in the top right hand corner of this print.


Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando) (Japanese, 1797-1858). Fireworks at Ryogoku (Ryogoku Hanabi), No. 98 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 8th month of 1858. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 1/4 in. (36.2 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.98

My first response was a pencil version


and today I made a stitched version


A stitch in the dark

One of my favourite recent stitch in the dark pieces uses a stitch called Romanian Couching. I saw a piece worked in this stitch in a very inspirational book called Drawn to Stitch by Gwen Hedley. Hedley is looking at the link between drawing and stitching and how the one can be translated into the other.What I like about her process is exactly the ‘rough’ and irregular nature of the pieces she produces and the way she achieves this.

I have already used Romanian couching for a recent piece of work. Here is a detail of the stitching …which while varied and rhythmical is perhaps not what I would call really irregular.


Now here is the ‘stitch in dark’ version… quite a different beast altogether.


I really like how the stitches move and while they have, for the most part, the same structure, I think they are far more ‘lively’ than my other piece.

Now the trick remains to get this type of life into a full blown piece and not simply a sample on a shirt pocket.