In the spirit of chasing lines of enquiring long considered, a few experiments with Madder are taking place at The Outside. Firstly to get an idea of the range of colours which can be produced from a change in pH. Many different shades of red, orange and pink can be produced, all different but all recognisably Madder.
We also hope to soon test other parts of the Madder plant, such as the berries, for their dyeing properties.
We are very pleased to have been asked to contribute some naturally dyed wool to Jorvik Viking Centre, York. This is part of their redevelopment after the devastating floods in 2015.
Basing some of these on funds from the Coppergate excavations, we have experimented with mordanting with Lycopodium clubmosses. Below is a photo of a range of colours dyed over lycopodium mordanted wool.
The single bright yellow is Alum mordanted as comparison.
We’re back again at our lovely local festival: WOOD Festival!
The plant fibres workshop was very popular, preparing flax, nettle and other fibres ready for spinning, into thread and weaving into cloth. Many people made their own nettle string to take home.
We were also spinning yarn(s), weaving all kinds of magic (including 2:1 twill on the warp weighted loom) and dyeing socks every colour of the rainbow. New dyes from the festival field were used, including nettles and burdock, and bracken collected from welsh hills. These dyes make beautifully soft greens, yellows, greys and browns.
Wehave a set of quern stones, from Tewkesbury, and some grain to grind. They proved very popular at both Silchester open days, helping the Students understand how labour intensive food preparation was in the Iron Age and the Roman period. We also occasionally meet people from other cultures who remember growing us using quern stones. We’re really glad that we can help people keep in touch with their personal histories, not just the history of this country.
Between the first and second Silchester Open Days, we made a replica Iron Age warp-weighted loom. This was to demonstrate the use and context of the Iron Age loom weights found by the Reading University students at the Silchester excavation.
Our fire stand / grid made by Cobalt Blacksmiths has been finished for Herstmonceux, where we were demonstrating natural dyes for all three days, as well as using our loom. It keeps the fire off the ground, so we can demonstrate dyeing at sensitive historical sites.