Every now and then the fairies whisper in my ear that they would like to impart a little fairy knowledge and this week there has been lots of whispering going on. They made it known it was time that I should discover more about the wonderful properties that plants and fruits and flowers store in their innermost core and they have given me the first lessons in natural dying. Of course the little creatures have an invested interest in this as it means they will eventually get some lovely new fairy frocks from the process !
We started by peeling the papery skins from some onions and simmering them in water for about 20 minutes. In the meantime we prepared some swatches of fabrics so that they would take up the dye and then hold on to it , this involved boiling the pieces in vinegar and water for vegetables and a salt solution for fruits for 1 hour. This whole process it very time consuming and we got quite a bit steamed up and a fairy patrol was sent to wipe all the windows down.
The onion skins were strained away and the prepared fabric went in the dye bath and we waited with baited breath ...
Another fairy patrol went out and brought back some hedgerow findings to experiment with; reading from left to right we have dock, nettle and alkanet. They all seemed to produce a weak yellowy colour which was a bit disapointing in the case of the alkanet which according to fairy lore should produce a red but the fairies inform me that it is an imprecise science and more experimentation is needed ( they can be quite bossy at times . )
I'm looking forward to incorporating these colours in my future work and am excited to think of how well they are going to blend with the dried and pressed leaves and flowers that I already use. In the meantime the fairies are busy designing their summer party frocks !