Wednesday, 30 June 2010


I have spent the last three days experimenting with Indigo.  The recent hot, sunny weather has created just the right environment for dyeing in the garden, one of my favourite occupations!  To be honest with you I have always found all the different published methods and recipes for dyeing with Indigo confusing and this was exacerbated when I was unable to find my stock of Indigo grains and  Hydros.  Unwilling to waste precious dyeing time looking for something that will turn up one day when I am not looking for it, I went in search of more.  My local Arts and Craft shop sells natural dyes and I hoped to find some synthetic there as well.  They had both.  I bought a Natural Indigo Kit put together by the 'Mulberry Dyer' and some synthetic powder and some Spectralite.  The first day I used the Natural Indigo Kit.  I had never used natural indigo before and was not prepared for the results.  The depth of colour is quite different.  The first photograph shows the fabric created with the natural indigo and you will see how different the results are.  I do like the pale blue, but found this a very time consuming exercise as the fabric had many dips to increase the depth of colour and it took me all day to produce 6 fat quarters.!!The rest of the photographs show the fabrics created on the second and third day with the synthetic indigo vat made using a recipe I found on the 'KEMTEX' website.  I have only good things to say about Kemtex and Stuart the owner.  He knows everything there is to know about dyeing and will spend a lot of time listening and providing explanations for unexpected happenings and making suggestions about what to do next time. I am waiting now for more supplies and hope that the good weather continues.  I have another recipe to try with a bigger vat as I would like to have a go at dyeing some yardage to turn into a garment of some sort!  Apart from a couple of the fabrics  - one just scrunched into a ball and bound round and round with thread and the other one with screws tied into it all the others had been folded and pole wrapped.    I am really pleased with them and now of course as everyone who has dyed their own fabric knows - 'what to do with them'??  Can I bear to cut it up??  What if I don't like what I've done with it??  Shall I just fold it up and put it in my stash.??  The idea was to produce a range of indigo dyed fabrics that I would eventually make up into a quilt - perhaps this is what I shall do eventually, in the meantime I am going to go on experimenting with different recipes and chemicals.  This time I used Spectralite instead of Hydros.  Tomorrow the recipe includes mixing the grains with meths, to make a stock solution.  I have used this method before but when someone else had made the vat.  This time I will do my own.  I need a bigger bucket!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, 24 June 2010


We have had to say goodbye again to our lovely boy.  William has gone with his Squadron from Yeovilton Naval Air Base to Afghanistan for the second time.  To say we have had the wind taken out of our sails is an understatment.  We will be counting the days until he is home again in October.  Will is 21 this year and his birthday is in September while he is still away.  We have been reliably informed that the facilities at Khandahar are very good so  there will be suitable celebrations!!!!!!  We will make sure there are celebrations too when he gets home.  In the meantime, we must go about our daily routines knowing that one of our loved ones is in daily danger.  God Bless you Will and all the brave boys and girls who find themselves in harms way a long way from home. 

Friday, 18 June 2010


Oh my word!!  I am just back from 3 days in Milan.  I went out to see an Exhibition of Napoleonic Costume that a friend has been working on for a very long time.  This was my first trip to Italy and I had got very excited at the thought.  It was everything and more than I expected.  The only negative thing was that I speak no Italian and I felt  very much at a disadvantage.  Fortunately the hotel I was staying in is also a big convention centre so the staff spoke good English.  It is situated in the City and that meant everything was within walking distance.  In fact the Basilica - Santa Maria delle Grazie - where Leonardo da Vinci's ' Last Supper' is housed was just opposite so that was my first port of call.  I spent a lot of time in here mesmerised by the Art and decoration.  I took lots of photographs which will give me an endless supply of ideas for my Textile work.  I wasn't able to see the Masterpiece as visits have to be booked in advance and although I had planned to go at some stage I was not sure when.  

The Exhibition I had gone to see is at La Triennale a large Exhibition complex in the heart of Milan.  It has been in the making for many months and my young friend Natalie has been commuting backwards and forwards to Milan helping with all the preparations of the clothes and making the correct underpinnings so that they all sit properly on the mannequins.  The photograph shows the earliest dress on display.  This one is mine and I have lent it to Martin and Christina for the duration of the Exhibition.  I have had this dress for a very long time.  I bought it at an Antique Fair I was working at in Plymouth in 1986.  It was on the stall adjacent to mine in amongst a lot of other old clothes,  Every time someone looked at the things on the rail and they were pushed backwards and forwards the sleeve would keep waving at me!!!  I eventually got up and went to have a look and couldn't believe what I was looking at.  It had been trimmed with the wrong lace, but I recognised the fabric as an early hand block print and bought it.  It was fairly grubby and had a couple of small tears but I was so happy to have it and even happier when  I discovered on the inside the stamp mark of the United East India Shipping Company which dated it to 1786.  It remained folded up and in a box for years as I never intended to sell it on.  Now it has been professionally cleaned and restored and is entering a new stage in its life. Natalie has made lovely undergarments and she has been christened 'Florine', and she stands proud and beautiful with all the other fabulous dresses that keep her company in the display case.

There is a fabulous book/catalogue printed both in English and Italian that Martin and Christina have produced to accompany the Exhibition .  I believe it is available to buy at the moment on Amazon.  I will post links to the official photograph album for anyone to look at.  I ha ve lots of  my own but the professional ones are so much better and it is the courteous thing to do.  A lot of time, money and very hard work has gone into making this Exhibition and credit is due where credit is due.   I met a lot of lovely people while I was in Milan and was thrilled to find that Natalie and some of the team were staying at my Hotel - sheer  coincidence - so we got to spend some time together at Breakfast and in the evenings.  Hilarious conversations in 'Eurobabble'!!!

Link for photographs.

Saturday, 12 June 2010


Quite a lot has happened since my last post about Petworth House Antique Textile Fair.  We had the Poundbury Textile Fair here on our own doorstep on 2nd June and then on Thursday 3rd June Linda and I went on a coach trip to the Quilt Exhibition at the V & A Museum in London.  It was a fabulous exhibition and we had a lovely day.  The weather was fabulous so after we had finished in the Museum we went outside and sat  in the sun and had a cup of tea in the Museum garden while we were waiting for the coach home.

At the beginning of the month I set all my things up in 'The Full Gamut Gallery' in Weymouth for Dorset Art Weeks.  It is a delightful little place, light and airy and serves the most wicked coffee and cakes.  Kimberley the owner is an Artist and was also showing some of her work.  The other exhibitor with us was Gill Smeulders who makes the most fabulous jewellery from buttons and bead, vintage, hand made ceramic and fair trade.  I managed to get the second of my 'Chesil' Quilt/Wallhangings finished in time for the opening.  This second one is sister to the one that is currently on show at the Contemporary Quilt Group Exhibition at the Quilt Museum in York.  The photographs are not in the correct order again.  I just don't seem to be able to get the hang of it.!!  Last Wednesday I spent the day with some friends dyeing fabric.  Again it was a beautiful day and the setting was more than fabulous.  We were at Dell's farm house.  The farm - East Fleet Farm - is situated according to its name right on the Fleet Lagoon.  Winter or Summer, all kinds of weather, it is a truly inspirational place and it must be so amazing to wake up every day and look out of the window and see endless sky and shimmering sea.  These lovely black and white boys were very interested in what we were doing.  You can see the Fleet Lagoon and the Chesil Bank behind them.  Of all the places to spend time growing up before ending up on someone's plate this must be the best one.  Small consolation perhaps but far better than being in a barn or some crowded yard.  It is the quality of life that is important and theirs is A1.
 We produced many, many different fabrics.  These were in preparation for the Alicia Merrett workshop at Hardy Quilters on 21st June.  The last two photographs are some of the things I had displayed at the Gallery for Art Weeks.  The first one being the second 'Chesil' Quilt/Wallhanging.  So now I have caught up with what I have done for the last three weeks I am getting ready to go to Milan on Monday for the Exhibition I have been waiting for ages.  I am so excited.  I have never been to Italy before and I know I am going to love it.  The exhibition is of authentic Napoleonic fashion.  All from a private collection.  I can't wait to see it all.  Goose bump time again.  I will take loads of photographs and share them with you.