In the world of making stuff, there is always the next thing. And you never know what it’s going to be. What’s the next thing that will capture your interest to the degree required to learn everything about it and dive in to a world of new materials and techniques?
Since I was 31 and started off sewing, small things – sock monkeys and pillows, then quilts – I’ve moved to crochet, then garment sewing, then knitting, now weaving. I’m not an expert in any of these arenas, though I have enough basic knowledge and skill to be relatively successful in my undertakings. (Relative, that is, to the time I’ve spent doing it – weaving is still a mountain I’m climbing).
I recently noticed that I’ve been collecting books on natural dyeing for the last couple of years. It wasn’t something I set out to do – but I’ve managed to make a nice little library for myself in an area of textile work that I have no experience with – which indicates that at the very least, this topic is interesting to me. And suddenly I’m pretty sure that it is the next thing I am setting myself to learn about.
To that end, I’m gathering materials for iron and copper mordants, looking forward to the first crop of rhubarb for the leaves used to set dyes. I’m looking at natural dyes and which can be found in the wild on my island – which ones are exotic but essential (like madder, and indigo) – and which mushrooms and lichens hold the best colour potential.
My studio is well appointed for such an endeavour – with a small fridge, and running water – a big deck for working outside in the sunnier months. And though I want to go straight to hand painting a warp, I’m going to start small with samples for a dye journal in cotton, wool, and mohair (all materials I have onhand). (I want to hand paint a warp this year).
I’m thinking my first project will be a dye book with fabric and yarn samples – different mordants, dyes, fibres. It’s not a one-time project, but something to build on if it turns out that I am as fascinated with this as I have been with other textile experiments. We’ll see.