Sunday, 3 April 2016

Thanks for the wonderful newsletter Margaret. So sorry I don't know how to include the photos that were included. If someone out there could enlighten me, I would be very grateful.
Thanks heaps.

February, 2016.  No 16
Hello All
It has been an interesting learning curve – this newsletter.
Finding out just how to get an email with multiple recipients to actually be sent…… Meeting again people I have known from a while ago, and meeting new people.
Getting the blog up and running is still a work in progress.
I began being interested in Natural dyeing while in Townsville with the Fibres and Fabrics group – 1975 – ish.
We ended up in Katoomba and Orange – and I fiddled a bit. Studied weaving and a LOT of textile techniques – ended up becoming fascinated with Shibori. I went to a workshop with Marli Popple – at Mittagong – and learnt how to dye with synthetic indigo. I found I was no good at emulating the masters of shibori and went my own way. I became interested in the shapes the fabric took on when stitched or tied with different techniques and began experimenting with 3 D shibori.
We moved back to Queensland 2000 and things have blossomed. We travel a lot out western Queensland and I realised most of the country could be translated into shibori techniques. Because of this I work mostly with fibre reactive dyes. At the moment I am using muds from various locations around home and from places on our travels.
I’d like to hear how you got involved with natural dyeing and what your dreams are.
www. Opens such a huge and wonderful place to spend time David and Sue Richardson   Check out the dyes
Recommended Viewing:Dames de Couleurs
Anthropologist and African textile lover, Patricia Gerimont takes us on a journey of brocade and indigo across Bamako and Dogon in Africa.

from Facebook
Susan fell mcclean
what an honour, my work has been presented in Kuching. One felted and eucalyptus dyed art piece has been included in the International Art Exhibition 'Tree of Life' and organized by Society Atelier Sarawak curated by Mr Edric Ong. Coverage in the Borneo Post puts it in context.

A few emails returned to me.
Does anyone have information about these people?
Dominque Cardon>
Anne-Marie Ivesen>
Priscilla Troedel: <>
 Jill bygott>
Galyn Gardner>
Karen Young
Jillian Schneider    <>
Keiko  Yurisich  <>

The Handweavers and Spinners Guild has Special Interest Groups which run on a different day monthly. Melbourne
This from Robin Heywood – Thanks Robin
The Natural Dye Group meets on the 3rd Thursday of the month from 10.00 am and usually we are rushing to get out the door by 3.00 am. The cost for this group is $4.00 per session; $2.00 goes to the guild and $2.00 goes to the group to purchase dye material and equipment. It is a hands on group with notes supplied by the coordinator.
Visitors are warmly welcome but if a dyer decides to attend on a permanent basis The Guild requires them to become a member. Alternately because the Guild has a lot of Affiliated Groups who live in the country and are unable to join the group in person I started up the The Web Dyers Group. If any dyer would like to join this group they only need to contact me on and I send the information on the selected dye source for the month with some photos of the results. I will attach a sample. See below the 2016 calendar.

The Calendar for 2016 
Feb 18  Elderberry Leaves -  Eef van Riel and Wendy Duff
Mar 17  Madder and Alizarin  -  Robyn Heywood
Apr  21  Coreopsis  - Helen Mc Grath
May 19  Mushrooms - Wendy Duff
Jun  16  Eucalypt - The Healesville Girls
Jul   21  Turmeric - Rosalie Collie
Aug  18  Wattle  -  Sue Hilton
Sept 15  Surprise -  Gayle Quirke
Oct   20  Logwood  -  Robyn Heywood
Nov   17  Indigo   -  Robyn heywood
Dec  15  Christmas Shared Lunch and a sharing of our dye experiences.

Each session has a "Show and Tell" in which we discuss the dyeing we have been doing at home and seek advice on any problems.

Dock Rumex Species

This Dye Session was co ordinated by Helen Mc Grath. She used as her text ‘Wild Colour’ by Jenny Dean

Description: Erect plants usually with a  long tap root. The leaves are fleshy, leathery and usually form a basal rosette where they connect to the root.
Dock is listed as a pest weed in the Nillumbik Shire but also has some beneficial uses.
Uses: In earlier times the leaves were used to wrap butter to conserve it.
Roots are rich in tannin for use in leather tanning.

Parts used for Dyeing: Leaves, roots and seeds
Preparation: Leaves where put into a pot covered with water and bought up to simmer (90 deg C) and that temperature was maintained for 1 hour. Turned off and cooled overnight
Roots where cleaned of dirt, cut into small pieces with the scissors and soaked for 2 days. Water was drained and the roots were put into a pot covered with water and the same procedure as for leaves was followed.
Cleaned and diced roots were added to seeds and the same procedure was followed as for roots and leaves.
Dyeing: Skeins pre mordanted with alum.
Dye pots were strained and the dye liquor was returned to the pots.
2 skeins were entered into the leaves pot, 1 each into the roots and roots and seeds
All three pots were bought up to simmer maintained for 1 hour when skeins were removed.
Iron salt was added to the leaves pot and 1 of the skeins was returned to it for post mordanting.
Note: I missed out post mordanting the skein from the leaves pot and as I didn’t have any iron salt at home, I added 1/8th teaspoon of ferrous sulphate ( teaspoon iron water) and 1 teaspoon of rock salt. 

From left to right:
 1. Leaves, Alum Mordant, Hand spun wool.
 2. Leaves, Alum Mordant, Modified with iron  salt, Hand spun Wool
3. Roots, Alum Mordant, Hand spun wool.
4. Seeds and Roots, Alum Mordant, Hand spun Wool.
5. Roots, Alum Mordant, Commercial 2 ply Wool 

                                Robyn Heywood
                                August 2015

From India Flint: I have a popup shop of my leaf-dyed clothing at Poet's Ode, Main Street, Hahndorf South Australia on March 5 + 6, as well as a one day workshop on the 6th, entitled "the one day dress"
for more information or to book a place in the class please contact Poet's Ode<>

and in case anyone is travelling to Texas this year, I have a solo exhibition at the Ellen Noel Art Museum, Odessa, TX running from June 11 to the end of August, 2016
thanks India.   emailed with the following information:
 Heres what we’ve got lined up for dyeing. There are three workshops that may suit ………...
  2-Day Workshop with Anne Leon (Sat-Sun, April 11-12): PLANT-DYEING & SHIBORI.  If you are interested in learning about the exciting world of natural plant dyes and creating stunning patterns using shibori (a Japanese style of tie-dye), this is the workshop for you. Discover the magic of extracting colour from herbs, leaves, flowers, and the roots of plants, then colouring cloth and paper with a minimal use of mordents. Students will also be shown several shibori techniques which allow for the swift creation of intricate patterns. All participants will keep a daily diary of experiments which will form a colour reference book. There will be the opportunity to dye larger pieces of fabric that can be made into garments, wraps and scarves. For the paper enthusiasts, books may be a desired outcome.  This workshop is for all levels of experience – although a prerequisite is patience.  Materials fee: $30 per person for an assortment of silks suitable for dyeing, all mordant's, notes and equipment supplied, fee payable to the tutor in class.

 4-Day Workshop with Anne Leon (Mon-Thu, April 13-16): ECO-DYE & SCREEN PRINT. This workshop focuses on plant-dyeing in depth and incorporating simple screen-printing techniques to create artwork on fabric or paper, wearables and books. Participants will dye their fabrics with a mixture of shibori techniques which create intricate patterns and beautiful coloured backgrounds to work on. The natural habitat of the Blue Mountains will be explored and used as a source of imagery which will become the basis of the prints, overlaid on the dyed cloth or paper. Participants are encouraged to keep a daily diary of experiments and drawings that will form a creative record which will provide a valuable reference for ongoing projects. At least 1 large piece (1mx1m) will be achieved during this 4 day workshop, and several experimental pieces. This workshop is for participants who have had some experience with textile techniques – if uncertain, please consult the tutor. Materials fee: $50 per person for a variety of fabrics suitable for dyeing and printing; mordant's, notes relating to all techniques, a creative diary and the equipment needed for dyeing and screen-printing, fee payable to the tutor in class.

ANNE LEON has over thirty years experience as a practicing artist and educator. She graduated from Brisbane Art College with a Diploma in Fine Art, majoring in ceramics, although her most current passion is textiles.  The versatility of Anne’s work, including both screen and block printing, as well as painting and dyeing on textiles and paper, reflects a rich artistic career. The consistently high quality of her work has earned her numerous large commissions both in Australia and internationally from interior designers, architects & couturiers. Until recently Anne ran a design studio in Byron Bay. Now based in nearby Mullumbimby, she creates custom hand-printed and naturally dyed textiles, maintains her Fine Art practice, and teaches. Website:
2-Day Workshop with Trace Willans (Sat-Sun, April 9-10): NATURAL DYE MIXED MEDIA.  Enjoy the thrill of creating unique pieces of cloth created through natural dyeing. Learn to dye using locally gathered plant material to create prints from the plants onto the fabric, giving excellent detail and beautiful effects. Explore further the possibilities of layered works on paper or cloth with thread, rust, natural indigo, soy milk, ink and using egg as a print medium. There will also be a small indigo vat to play with. You can expect to go home with several small individual pieces of completed work. All levels of experience are welcome. Materials fee: $5.00 per person, fee payable to the tutor in class.
TRACE WILLANS' main focus for her mixed media arts practice is sustainability. From her home in Northern Queensland, she tries to minimise the impact her art has on the earth and is involved in the development of products that, ideally, have no environmental or human damage. In sympathy with this philosophy, Trace is currently exploring traditional methods of making her own paints from products such as egg, milks, beeswax and natural pigments. She uses only natural dyes and natural fibres. She is very interested in processes, how things are made from start to finish, such as growing the soya beans to make the soya milk with which she makes paint.  Trace also explores the use of natural processes, the earth’s ability to provide us with everything we need for a sustainable life as well as arts practice. She is interested in exploring the relationship with the land itself, as well as the need for a spiritual connection to the earth and the need for a sense of place, protection, and sanctuary. More details of Trace's work are available on her website

I have attached 2 images;
Anne Leon - 2-day workshop. image is called textural fusion close up
Trace Willans - 2-day workshop. image is called naturally dyed wool singlet.

Tafta Inc is a not for profit organisation.
Founded in 2014 by Larissa Murdock and Bronwyn Packwood for the promotion of the creative arts community.

Geelong Fibre Forum will be held on the
25th September to 1st  Oct, 2016,
at Geelong Grammar, Corio.

These were held in January 2016
If you would like more information please contact:

TOURS AND CONFERENCE Travel /Workshop News:

10th International Shibori Symposium.
The next ISS will be in Oaxaca, Mexico 16-20th November 2016
Recently it was announced: 10iss Oaxaca 2016: Tours Now Open

 My Experience with Natural Dyes
Barbara Schey  - thanks Barbara .-
In 1964 I moved from the city to Tamworth in country NSW. In an effort to assimilate into country life, I learned to spin and weave. Finances were tight on our farm but we had our own wool and our teacher, Dulcie McLennan, was very keen on natural dyeing. As with all my projects I documented all of these crafts thoroughly, this as a result of my secretarial training.
I was made aware the colour results in natural dyeing were dependent on several issues so I made a sample record sheet and had it duplicated (!), some of you do not even know what that means!
I recorded the type of wool; the dye material; the time of year; the type of season; mordant or not; boiling time and geographical area of plant material. I recorded extensive samples and have only recently passed these to a friend who is studying natural dyes in depth.
Apart from Dulcie and library books (no internet in those days), I contacted the district agronomist, Bruce Scott, and enquired why many of the good dyestuffs had a strong odour. He said it was the sulphur content. Growing in the Tamworth area there was a plant called Darling Pea (pictured at left), which was referred to as wild indigo and which made the area of wool on the sheep which was affected by urine, turn blue. The colloquial term for these sheep was “pea eaters” and the sheep were physically affected when they ate this plant. The agronomist said the wild indigo did not have the indicans gene but two plants which grew in the area which did contain the gene were blackberry nightshade and queena. I never got around to making a vat from these plants but it would be interesting if someone could learn from this information. I would love feedback if anyone uses this information.
I also contacted Ken Hall, the head science teacher at Farrer Agricultural College and he gave us a workshop in a true scientific way using test tubes. This was a big change for us as most of our dyeing days were done out in a paddock in large tin or copper containers over a large open fire. Ken explained there were many mordants which could be used apart from the well-known mineral mordants we had been using. One was using the filaments from light bulbs which are titanium. Titanium is also used for the small propellers in jet engines and nothing would satisfy me until I obtained one of these for my own use, I am very determined when I want something.
We were in the habit of pre-mordanting our wool and leaving it damp and wrapped in plastic until ready to dye.
When I attended the Third International Shibori Symposium in Santiago, South America in 1999, I enrolled in a workshop on natural dyeing. It was quite expensive by my standards and there were 26 people in the class including the interpreters for the 6 different languages spoken so we did not learn very much. It was impressed on us however, that if pre-mordanting, the yarn/fabric had to be well washed after mordanting and before dyeing else the mordant would react with the dye molecules in the dye bath and thus reduce the intensity of the dye. Enough mordant would be left in the material, even though it was washed. This was an eye opener for me and so the cost was probably worthwhile for this very important piece of practical information. Unfortuntely, by this time I was almost exclusively using synthetic dyes, so I pass this information on for free!
I was fascinated by the change in colour as a result of the difference mordants and also by the container type. I carried out one experiment using equal quantities of wool, water, dyestuff but boiling in a tin, a copper kettle, an iron kettle and an aluminium saucepan, all with no added mordant. The colours were dramatically different. I once placed a whole fleece in a copper container, filled it with water and then did not get back to it for about 3 months by which time the wool was very green. In later years, when I wanted a little green yarn, I placed it in a glass jar containing copper offcuts with 50% household ammonia and 50% water. The yarn usually turned green in a week or so. In my continuing quest for mordants, I also obtained some smelted copper from a mine in Queensland. If I do anything, I usually do it thoroughly. Iron tent pegs are also a useful mordant. It goes without saying, if the fabric/yarn is not to be influenced; they must be boiled in a stainless steel or glass container.
Dulcie McLennan
Back to my original mentor, Dulcie McLennan: Sometime in the 1960’s when everyone else was high on whatever (if you do not remember the 60’s, you were not there), Dulcie and other movers and shakers, met at Sturt College at Mittagong NSW to form a group which became eventually the Australian Forum for Textile Arts. The people involved were: Dulcie McLennan; Solvig Bas Beckling; Erika Semler; Jutta Feddersen, Peggy Buckingham and several others. I am proud to say I was an original contributor (a whole ten pounds???) to get this group started. TAFTA as it is now known, has gone from strength to strength and really recognised textile arts for the first time in Australia. I subsequently worked for 2 years with Erika Semler, a German master weaver, under a Crafts Board of the Australia Council Grant. I was the first ever apprentice to a master weaver under the Craftsman in the Community Project.
Orchil Lichen
Dulcie first mentioned Orchil lichen (which dyes purple) when she was talking about a visit to her brother in the Hawkesbury River, NSW. She was not very forthcoming with details and it took me some time to realise the lichen grew on trees rather than rocks (not sure about this anymore). Dulcie said the test of whether the lichen would dye purple rather than the traditional brown, was to drop a little household bleach into the middle of the lichen, when it would show a brief purple tinge. This has never worked for me.
With my usual perseverance, I kept trying lichens and eventually discovered the orchil lichen growing on the north coast of NSW. It is usually attached to a tree around the edge of coastal estuaries where mosquitos and snakes abound. It is easier to scrape it off the tree whilst it is raining and the lichen is damp. I have met lots of new friends whilst scraping lichen off trees in the rain. Hello!! The lichen seems to grow on a variety of trees such as swampy oaks, paperbarks and palms, these latter with a smooth surface enable easier removal of the lichen.
The lichen should be put into a glass jar containing 50% water and 50% household ammonia. It is then stirred to oxygenate, once a day for 30 days. After this time, it can be kept sealed for 20 years or more (ask me how I know). It seems to me that it has a bad name for colour fastness because the colour runs in the first 10 minutes but my practice is to boil for a full 2 hours and leave in the dyepot overnight to allow the dye to adhere to the dye sites. Adding vinegar in the last 10 minutes of dyeing changes the colour from purple to American Beauty maroon.
I have kept dye fast samples for over 20 years, albeit they have not been subjected to rigorous testing.
When I was involved in natural dyeing, our simple test was to put a piece of dyed yarn into a matchbox with half protruding. We then left it on a windowsill in full sun for a fortnight. If there was no difference in the contained and exposed piece of yarn, it was deemed to be colour fast. I wonder how many modern dyes would cope with this test.
Where I am Now
Pictured at right is the piece of natural dyeing I did for the International Shibori Symposium in France in 2008. The dyes were obtained from yellow box leaves (Tamworth), Privet berries (Sydney) and some very old orchil lichen.
When I was apprenticed to Erika Semler, she was not interested in natural dyes and introduced me to the optically bright colours which have been my trademark ever since. My dyes of choice are mainly fibre reactives which are strong, optically bright and colour fast.
Barbara Schey