Old Friends

Sharon and I met more than 20 years ago now and have, over the years, had little sewing circles/get togethers/chats – whatever you would like to call them.  We have shared crafts, ideas and endless cups of tea over the years.  In more recent years when life has got in the way we have not found the time to have a “crafty catch up”.

Sharon expressed a wish some months ago now to learn how to get some eco dyes onto paper that she could use in her art practice, and it has taken us about 6 months to finally get together.  We spent a lovely day catching up on our respective family’s latest news, boiling up a pot of eucalyptus goodness, and sandwiching various plants between layers of paper.  The tea was of course, much in evidence!

Sharon bought plants from her garden so I can’t name any of them – I do remember the hobnail fern though because it made the most fabulous resist on Sharon’s paper.

Sharon went home thrilled with her paper and (I am pretty sure) another addiction!!!

I loved her results – what do you think?

Sharon's first eco dyeing on paper experience - pretty speccy for a first go!

Sharon’s first eco dyeing on paper experience – pretty speccy for a first go!

Sharon's eco dyed paper

Sharon’s eco dyed paper

Sharon's eco dyed paper - hobnail fern is in the upper right corner.

Sharon’s eco dyed paper – hobnail fern is in the upper right corner.


Quiet Minds Weekend

Last weekend was spent blissfully experimenting with plant dyes at Forget Not Farm, nestled in the hills south of Donnybrook. When I arrived I was greeted by a splendid fairy wren and his wife who allowed me to get quite close – these birds are the most brilliant blue and I get a thrill every time I see one.  Our worst fears were realised on Saturday – it rained almost non stop – but the open fire kept going all day.  A small and very enthusiastic group of people spent their time experimenting with plant dyes on silk, wool and cotton – both mordanted and not mordanted.  We had pots of Eucalyptus cinerea, E. rudis, E. marginata and olive leaves and collected all manner of plants from the farm garden and alongside the little stream that runs through the property.

Sunday was a glorious day – we were all able to enjoy the view from the work shed and listen to the black cockatoos squawking in the marri trees behind the shed.  There were some beautiful results from a weekend of bundling and putting resists onto fabric, a glorious yellow, turning to khaki green from the olive leaves, some flashes of purple from Salvation Jane flowers, lovely little stars from lupin leaves – and my favourite some lovely patterns from the bracken fern.

I have posted some photos from the weekend in an album on my Facebook page – here is the link:


Another weekend is planned next year – contact me if you are interested.
more dyed fabrics some results

The law of Murphy

I have been playing around with eco dyeing for quite a few years now – since I saw India Flint conducting a workshop at Fibres West and subsequently purchasing her book Eco Colour.  I mostly use what is on our small block here in the South West of Australia and as we have quite a few E. globulus I have used the leaves quite a lot – they smell absolutely divine bubbling away in the dyepot and  have produced  green and brown prints from the leaves.  During the wonderful workshop India conducted here in April I remember asking her which Eucalypt species were producing some vibrant orange prints and was surprised that she replied E. globulus.  I have been dyeing a few scarves in the past couple of weeks and wanted some without orange on them so thought it would be safe to bundle a bit of E. globulus.

I had a little parcel unwrapping session yesterday and was amazed to find Murphys Law had been at work – orange prints! Nature is wonderful.

Silk scarf eco printed with E. golbulus

Silk scarf eco printed with E. golbulus

Ingenius upcycling

In my last blog post I wrote about learning so much from the participants in my classes – the show and tell sessions where I am privileged to be shown books that they have made since taking a book making workshop make sharing so worthwhile.

Living in the country miles from the nearest art supply store makes for very creative people and Erin who participated in my book making workshops in Narrogin recently had an abundance of computer parts she has found a new use for.

"Sewn on Tapes" book using computer parts  - Handmade by Erin Bailey - photo courtesy of Erin Bailey

“Sewn on Tapes” book using computer parts – Handmade by Erin Bailey – photo courtesy of Erin Bailey

Erin creates some wonderful steampunk jewellery, makes tin horses from some very interesting discarded items to promote  the “tin horse highway” and Kulin bush races.  You can find her page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/eBee-Creations/227915167353792.


It makes my heart sing – thank you so much for sharing Erin.

Retracing my steps

Yesterday I retraced my steps to ARtS Space, Narrogin for another book making workshop.  It rained most of the way there but it was not blowing the gale that was forecast thankfully.  Whenever I pack my little car for a workshop I am always on tenterhooks until I have everything laid out at the workshop venue in case I have forgotten anything.  Yesterday I forgot the aprons (we were using glue) and if anyone is going to mess up their clothes it would be me!  Luckily I was able to find some in the local supermarket – along with chocolate in case of concentration or frustration problems during the day.

I really enjoy teaching workshops and often am left pondering on just who learns more – the participants or myself.  Everyone comes up with a new take on what we are doing, arranges things differently, problem solves in an innovative way and produces a book that is wholly theirs.

I love seeing books that participants in previous workshops have made after that workshop – they never cease to delight me, and yesterday’s “show and tell” was no exception.

The trip home was so enjoyable – sunshine on the patchwork of paddocks between Narrogin and Williams showed up different shades of green depending on the growth stage of the crop interspersed with the odd paddock of brilliant yellow canola. Closer to Collie in the forest there was a carpet of wildflowers beneath the trees contrasting sharply with the rusty coffee rocks.  I found the rain on the other side of Collie so the last bit of the journey had to use the windscreen wipers – but home safely before dark – a lovely day.

Textile Artist Bobbie Bates and her eco printed books - made following the first workshop in Narrogin

Textile Artist Bobbie Bates and her eco printed books – made following the first workshop in Narrogin

Beautiful stitching on tapes - love the contrasting thread

Beautiful stitching on tapes – love the contrasting thread

Folding and cutting pages for the books

Folding and cutting pages for the books

More folding and cutting pages

More folding and cutting pages