Sunday, 24 May 2009


on the way home from Warrnambool i spent time with someone whose work i respect and whose opinions and thoughts i value very highly. during conversation he introduced me to TED, a fascinating site that offers talks [by people with passion] about an diverse range of subject matter 

he also kindly took the photo above for me as i wasn't carrying a camera...

i wandered thither during a quiet moment yesterday and was delighted to find a talk by Carl Honore, advocate of slowness. his philosophy of undertaking tasks or activities individually rather than multi-tasking and of being fully engaged with the matter at hand sings most harmoniously with the mantra "time is your friend"... something i've been telling my students for a long time

the dyebath above ... a slow cauldron of choisya ternata in a copper pot, contained within a larger stainless steel pot [to save the copper pot from the flames] only revealed full potential after many hours of gentle steeping

but well worth the effort, the lovely fresh green it produced being notoriously tricky to achieve according to traditional plant dye texts

during that same week a slow windfall walk revealed other treasures too, colours that cannot be achieved through traditional dye extraction but are visible [ie unaffected by the water of the dyebath] when processed in contact

the print above was from a fungus growing in the lawn...

speaking of slowness and of taking time... news has reached me that a recent student is already formulating plans for a plant dye course she will teach at her college. a most laudable notion, certainly, but not something i would have felt comfortable proposing after a relatively short exposure to the field. perhaps, though, she has a long dye history that i'm completely unaware of, but given the bombardment of questions that were coming my way from that quarter for a month or so i suspect that may not be the case

the book Eco Colour was only published after many years research into dyeing with plants and now [some two years since handing the manuscript to my publisher] i feel i have as much still to learn. i'm deeply grateful to my many students for their brave experiments in classes over the years - fifteen people bringing their own hand to the same pool of materials discover so much more than one person working alone in a studio

and maybe there's the lesson in this, that by teaching a skill one actually learns more about it...

so i wish her luck and look forward to the development of new and exciting ecologically sustainable dye techniques emerging from the west country of that Green and Pleasant land

and remember, go slow... 


  1. You may or may not be interested in visiting this link

    Thankyou for the experience.

  2. Old adages are just that for the reason of having held true during the tests ot time, thus 'less hast, more speed' I have followed all my life with more of less success depending on the pressure of the situation. Over time I have learned to just amble along and let life take its your beautiful dye pots.

  3. Hey India, just had a look at shadowland, what a wonderful blog.

    What a fantastic green, maybe I will drift away from the native veg and try some weeds if we ever get any rain to make them grow around here. Who knows.
    Is this top photo another one of your car bonnet?

  4. Remembering going slow?
    Each year this becomes easier India!

  5. thanks Lesley, for your link...i'll go and explore

    thanks Ma for popping in

    and T, the photo is a detail from some dew drops on an oakleaf...
    and Martine...i want to slow down by choice, not from age and infirmity!

  6. Regarding students teaching after only a short course is plainly cheapening the subject.

    The western mind is in such haste, often toward the abyss.

    It would not take much to conclude that if one were to be in such a haste to teach others then there is more than the need to enlighten unconditionally as the motive.

    Unfortunately this type of thing happens the world over and it is the duty of the student to really quantify the worth of a teacher before one undertakes a course.

    It is not always how much it will cost that counts. There are many factors too varied to begin here. However one can say to learn something that will last one has to taste something that has come from a deep well.

    Australians sadly do not have a tradition or respect for the teacher. India has the Guru / shishya tradition of teacher student. The Chinese also respect Shifu or teacher.

    In the final analysis we are all affecting our karma and the karma or others via what we do or say or think.

  7. I've enjoyed languishing here - beautiful photos and food for thought in the words - thank you India

  8. thank you Gerard for that thoughtful contribution...

  9. Sounds like she has developed the "drive-thru" method of eco dying... Ah well, us older folk can sit back, breathe in and out and observe the moment. A skill I am only just beginning to get a handle on.

  10. That GREEN is to die for!!!
    Thanks for the tip on protecting my old copper kettle from the flames.
    Am currently trying to source some local wool for a new felting project. Things need time to develop so I may ease off the gas pedal for a while. Happy Days...

  11. Hi India, I feel honoured by your remarks, thanks from shadowland

  12. A lovely and timely reminder about the value of time and process. Kia ora.

  13. Time is your friend, now where have I heard that before? I recoginse these plants!! I managed to get a good green print from a leaf up here, trouble is I wasn't very scientific in my process and it could have come from one of three locations. Guess I have to go back and try them all again paying more attention. Your London scrap is safe and waiting for me to find it's mate will send soon.

  14. shadowland..dutchies not bad people don't you think....we had a great night last night as we had big storm so lots and lots of oakleafs on the ground....they simmer is so hard to not take a peak.....but time is your friend you say and the miracle is bigger when develloped in due time
    oaky kisses

  15. I really appreciate hearing those sentiments - a meditation for our spirits, especially when I feel we straddle the two diverse worlds of commerce and computers with eons old hand artisanship and craftsmanship

  16. I needed to read about going slow today. Glad to read your words and hear your voice in them.- Christine

  17. That photo of the red flowers is to die for ... just gorgeous, India. xo