Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Fairies Are Dying !!

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 . )

 Found sitting in the pink bath made from carnation flowers I found a white fairy who just couldn't wait for a new dress and below you can see her drying out on the aga !

 Before too long this same aga was dripping in drying colours... we used muslin , cotton , linen and silk -  a fairy would never tolerate polyester next to her sensitive skin.

 Here is a bundle of yellows made from the dock, a quick swish in a tumeric bath ( the brighter yellow above came from a longer dunk. )

 Here are the results from the onion skins - later we produced a much stronger colour with silk and the fairies reliably inform me that that always takes up the dye better. I do love all the soft hues and that they all blend so well together.

 Next we have red cabbage which was the smelliest dye of the day - very reminiscent of school dinners ! Luckily it didn't seem to linger on the finished fabric ... or this fairy wouldn't have settled here.

 Talking of school, the fairies made me do my homework that night and record the results in a book which I look forward to filling with lots more little swatches  - blues and greens are yet to be mastered .
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 !

No comments: