Lake Pigments

By Art, Botanical Dye, Botanical Ink, Experiments, Play, Process

I recently did an online lake pigment workshop with Natalie Stopka (I’d recommend) which was super informative and fun and has opened up a whole other dimension of exploring plant colour. Being able to transform exhausted dye baths into pigment powder colours is very useful since storing them can be difficult and often leads to mold and in my case rows of jars of murky liquids whose labels have fallen off.

The process is so alchemical and beautiful. There is frothing and fizzing and pools of deep colours as the pigments are filtered. Nothing is fixed and there are are so many changes, colours that start bright purple can end up pale pink.

m a g i c


By Botanical Dye, Ecology, Experiments, Process

The creation of the geodome for Sueños Botánicos meant quite a lot of leftover material from the off cuts as I formed triangles. I dreamed up the dome as a place to sleep, to contemplate our relationship with plants, to the world around us whilst cocooned inside plant colours. A patchwork quilt was then in some ways the obvious solution to make use of the waste.

I did not know how to thread the sewing machine without help before I started. * So thank you to my budding seamstress daughter and partner for their help. I also had no idea about how to make a quilt. I am amazed at what you can do with some YouTube tutorials. I wish I had the link to share but can’t retrace my internet steps. Darleen from America set me on an easy make triangles with two squares technique in a couple of minutes, for which I am eternally grateful.

I really enjoyed the process, the adventure. Finding solutions for problems of how to do various stages as I came across them. And also for the learning process and acceptance of imperfection. I like to be tidy and do things well. I have a bit of a perfectionist problem which leads to procrastination and paralysis. I embraced imperfection with this quilt. The points of the shapes do not meet. The thread is sometimes (often) tangled. I used different coloured threads because I was too impatient to wait until I could source the same coloured thread again. The material puckers in places. But I love it. I love that I created this beautiful tactile object. I love to wrap myself into it. I love that the imperfections are woven into it as part of a visible learning process.

30 Days

By Art, Play, Process

In April I took part in this 30 days 30 works project with the 12ø  collective. A month long project to make a work every day, meant to be a playful way of engaging artists with their practice and encouraging experimentation. It could not have been better timed, with most of the world finding itself quarantined on the 1st April, they had a higher uptake than usual. For me having been working so furiously on something that was abruptly cancelled, it seemed the ideal time to participate in something lighter and change my focus.

I liked the way it was open, you could choose to respond or not to the daily prompts, to be as active or lazy as you choose. I found the prompts sometimes fun, sometimes silly, sometimes thought provoking and I enjoyed getting a new brief each day…try cheating today, make a work that takes 5 minutes, what does a failure look like to you?

Sometimes I focused and completed something I had been thinking of. Some days I was inspired. Some days I was lazy. Some days things didn’t work out. But what was interesting was to follow my thoughts and my actions. I played with video which I don’t usually do. It was good timing, finding myself at home, schooling children, with limited resources and time I had to be inventive. Some days the action was mostly in my head but it helped to push me to play and experiment to think about the way I make work.

I am used to working within my confines, my limitations, my family responsibility, my skill, material availability. It is good to dream and think and it is good to work with what there is. It is good to be pushed to think in ways you wouldn’t. And it is good to participate. I enjoyed seeing the other works. I especially liked the presentation, low-fi, like Instagram as it used to be, seeing the most recently posted first works first.

A month is enough! But it has given me some food for thought and material for action.

Shibori: Folded Paper Dye

By Paper, Play, Process

Quarantine activities with the 7 year old. Very satisfying and simple. Taking from traditional Japanese shibori resist dying techniques, though we are using paper not material. Paper is folded and dipped in ink, we fold however we can, we do not use such sophisticated neat folds as we have seen in the true shibori, it gets a little complex with small fingers and thick paper. I happen to have Japanese washi paper to hand, which is perfect as it is absorbent but strong.

We use my botanical inks and also some old inks I have (which are the brighter stronger colours). We like both effects. After we make a paper kite with some of the sheets of paper that flies really well. And an origami house and envelope.


By Botanical Dye, Process

Azofeifo process. Root to botanical dye, dyed fabric. Reduction ink painted on cotton paper. Thorns gathered form azofeifo tree piercing root ink paper.

Dye Process #3

By Botanical Dye, Process

Digging in the garden to make space to plant the guava tree we dug a bright orange red root, probably from the spikey azofeifa tree, known in English as Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba). I was curious to see if it would produce colour for dye as it was such a striking flame bright orange red. I chopped up the root and boiled it up. It did indeed produce a reddish orange colour, which faded to a muted red brown on material but stayed as a strong colour on paper.

Dye Process #2

By Botanical Dye, Process

I take my botanical ink and dye experiments to another level by getting systematic and methodical. More scientific in my exploration, which is very fruitful. It is chemistry and I like it.

I took an online course with Flora Arbuthnott which I would recommend. Something clicked and I was able to understand something more complete about using modifiers. I have read books on natural dyeing; India Flint, Botanical Inks and Jason Logan all were very interesting but it was seeing the experience, albeit virtually that helped me to understand the way the different reactions occur and the potential that exists for exploration.

A practical course can take place virtually, which is a very good thing for me, living rurally and having responsibilities that do not allow me to travel to do interesting courses, much as I’d like to.