On Friday July 25th clients from First Base participated in a Natural Dyeing Workshop, learning about how natural materials were once used to dye fabrics such as drapes and bed linen. Clients then experimented with traditional dyeing methods to achieve a range of vibrant colours.
We began the workshop by weighing out 100g of onion skins which we then added water to and brought to the boil. Once boiling, we reduced the heat and added some linen handkerchiefs. While the onion skins simmered, we repeated the process with stinging nettles, this time adding the fabric before bringing the water to the boil. Both pans were left simmering for around 45 minutes, with the nettles producing a yellow dye and the onion skins creating a wonderfully vibrant orange.
The clients then created their ‘dye wraps’, choosing materials from a range of flowers, plants, bark and nut shells. They folded the fabric to produce unique patterns. Three of the wraps were submerged in boiling water while the remaining three were placed in a dye bath containing woad; a plant used to achieve a blue colour.
Finally, the group used 25g of Cochineal, dried beetle bodies, to dye 50g of fabric. The Cochineal was soaked and we then added our fabric at different stages to create varying degrees of pink. Each client produced a patterned handkerchief from their dye wraps and a cotton bag, dyed using onion skins, nettles or cochineal.
This activity has been interesting and fulfilling
I did something today that I’d never done before