As I’ve recently been seriously ill in hospital again, I had to postpone the last Ditchling Museum natural dyeing course session but I was sufficiently recovered to be part of the museum’s open day on September 22nd. This was to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the opening of the new museum buildings and the museum offered free entry all day, with a variety of activities, a barbecue and live music.
Unfortunately the weather was rather cold and rainy in the afternoon but the activities offered by some of my dyeing course students proved very popular, even those that took place outside. Among the activities on offer were handspinning, weaving, stitching, paper making, mark making with botanical inks and handmade brushes and the opportunity to use an indigo vat.
We set up the indigo vat using natural indigo, soda ash and sodium hydrosulphite, with a stock solution on hand to top up the vat when necessary. We also offered a chance to learn some shibori techniques and the results brought smiles of delight to all those who participated.
The museum’s dye garden was not as spectacular as it had been earlier in the Summer but it was still flourishing and we had a display of solar dye pots using plants from the dye garden.
Part of the dye garden earlier in the season with yellow cosmos, French marigolds, yarrow, St. John’s Wort and safflower, with madder in flower in the background
An interesting way to display solar dye pot results, all from dyes grown in the museum’s dye garden. (Photo courtesy of Sue Craig)
Ross Belton with his botanical inks and handmade brushes and some of his indigo-dyed fabrics in the background
Some results of mark-making with Ross’s botanical inks
Sarah Matcham and weavers
Having a go at weaving under Sarah’s supervision
Jane Ponsford and paper makers
Some samples of hand-made paper
Lottie Whyman with a young stitcher
Jennifer Nightingale demonstrating handspinning
The indigo vat in use. Zuzana Krskova and Jackie Sweet help unwrap a shibori-dyed tote bag, as it comes out of the post-dyeing clear water dip. Below are some results from the indigo vat.
All photos by Jonny Dredge unless otherwise indicated