Friday, June 11, 2010

9 June - Linda Rudkin, “Colours from Nature”

In June, Linda Rudkin gave a fascinating talk on dyeing natural fibres with natural products. After a brief introduction of how Linda got into dyeing after retiring from Teaching English at a comprehensive school in Leicestershire, she moved swiftly on to her fast paced, fact packed guide to dyeing.

Starting with a list of necessary equipment, the talk covered every aspect of dyeing. Linda told us about the various mordants that are used to fix the dye to the fibre, how and when they are added, and amused us with a couple of tales relating to the only mordant that she has never used - urine.

A good part of the talk covered the different materials that can be used and how various types of material should be treated. For each group (flowers and leaves, wood, vegetables, etc) Linda showed us sample boards that she made to record how different fibres (wool, silk, cotton, rayon, etc) absorb the dye and the effect of the various mordants. It was surprising to see that the colour obtained rarely bore any resemblance to the original plant stock and how a mordant can alter the hue or brightness.

Onion Sample Board, courtesy of Linda Rudkin

Logwood Sample Board, courtesy of Linda Rudkin

Velvet Cushion, courtesy of Linda Rudkin

It was a visit to the Bayeux Tapestry that started Linda on her exploration of colours from nature. The beautiful, soft shades of the wool and how well they have stood up to the test of time sparked an interest that has grown into an comprehensive knowledge and understanding of natural dyes.

At the end of the talk, Linda spoke briefly about Flower Pounding and showed us samples of her work using this method: the results are strikingly different from those obtained using a dye bath.

Flower Pounding Sample Board, courtesy of Linda Rudkin

On 18 September 2010 Linda will teaching a workshop on flower pounding. Judging by the oh’s and arh’s her samples produced, and the crowd around Fiona following the talk, the class is filling up fast. For further information or to book your place, contact Fiona.

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