Sunday, 18 January 2009

more bundled magic

you'd be forgiven for thinking this image was taken in Mexico...but no, it's actually New Zealand. i'm back across the ditch teaching summer school and [bliss] it's raining! 

my hosts [Whitireia Polytechnic] have kindly accommodated me in supremely comfortable digs at the seaside in Raumati so mornings and evenings are elevated by delightful tramps along the beach - where treasures await the dyer. beautifully polished driftwood in bite-size lumps, just right for wrapping dye bundles...seashells for use in a version of itajime shibori...and of course an abundance of seawater, an excellent mordant for cotton t-shirts 

each little bundle will unfold to reveal the alchemical magic of plant dyes, all without using aggressive adjunct mordants - just simple substances like ash, seawater, soymilk and a bit of vinegar in association with found metals and reactive pots that help to influence the dyebaths...


  1. What a difference a ditch makes, here we are still dyeing for rain.
    Love the variety of colours in the different bundles.

  2. I never realized salt water was a mordant.. and here I am sitting by a huge ocean... I have to try this...

  3. salt water [as in Sodium chloride added to H2O] is indeed a traditional mordant, but one i avoid [especially on the farm, where we already have a salt problem]
    seawater, on the other hand, contains minerals and other magic along with Sodium chloride...and when used at the seaside [as opposed to taken inland and eventually disposed of there] doesn't do a great deal of harm.
    soak an old Tshirt in a handy rockpool, Gwen, and then try bundling it with a few pieces of scrap iron and a biggish handful of onion skins. secure firmly with a bit of string, steam or boil for a while and then let it cool overnight before investigating...magic will happen

    1. India we are trying to help save the kelp forests from destructive mechanical harvesting, here in West Cork,Ireland. I am experimenting with bundles of cotton fabric using seaweed for dye patterns, but having trouble getting much to happen. I wonder if silk would be better and seaweed as mordant. This would become banners for a public art project. Maybe I need to add something to the mix to bring out the colours of the plants? I am a novice, have the bundle book, and would appreciate any suggestions you might have. Janice McEwen

  4. Its amazing how you find magic everywhere.

  5. Fascinating! I used to experiment with a lot of natural dyes and wanted to get more variety than the greens and yellows. What held me back was my mentor. She had psoraisis and heath problems from some of the stranger mordants she'd experimented with. I didn't realize you could use the ones you mentioned. I can't wait to see some of your results! I'll have to hit the archives.

  6. Thank you so much, my dear, I will certainly give it a go... have lots of onion skins and scrap iron lying about the place... can't wait to see what happens!

    The results of your workshop is darn inspiring and the colors gorgeous!! the participants must love it!!

  7. What a lovely location, and to escape the dry for a while, what a treat.

    Rain, and walks along the beach, it sounds like another world. Enjoy yourself finding all those new dye things. And bundling too.


  8. Thank you for your posts, it is so interesting! Will it work if I boil my silks/wool with the sea water, some kind mordant-in- the pot way?
    I also always wanted to ask if I could do cool mordanting and dyeing for my nunofelt to avoid shrinking? It so many opinions on the net. I've tryed the cool mordanting with carob and eucalyptus and the colors are good. Thank you so much in advance,India! When I have an opportunity I'll attend one of your masterc-classes.

  9. i tend not to boil IN seawater [smells nasty]
    soak first, cook in something sweeter later

    cold dyeing doesn't work so well for wool, needs warmth to open up the fibres. Second Skin describes bundles techniques so no shrinkage in wool

  10. Thank you so much for your answer, it is very kind of you!