Friday 28 February 2014

Walkin to New Orleans

Well, not quite walking.

Flying, if I'm honest, this evening

Meanwhile I've been staying with my friend Claudia Grau
and slinging a few things into a dye pot on her deck
overlooking (and happily avoiding) the mayhem that is pre-Oscars Hollywood

and now it's raining, which is a fine thing for California 
as they're on the verge of running out of water

not so good for my boots.
Good thing I'm NOT walkin to New Orleans !

Monday 24 February 2014

sometimes i wonder

sometimes i wonder why i leave

taking my traditional "last walk" this evening
before a pre-dawn departure tomorrow
reminds me
there's no place like home

Thursday 20 February 2014


back in 2002 the Helpmann Academy invited me to act as mentor to one of their flock of fresh graduates : Julia Robinson and I spent a few months sharing interesting conversations, creating small installations in the Wild Wood here on the farm and having the odd cup of tea

i'm still plugging away teaching, making frocks, calling cattle and writing but Julia has risen to far dizzier heights...creating installations for the Adelaide Festival of Arts

on the other hand
i have an exhibition in New Orleans soon
fieldnotes opens on March 11th

if you're in the Marigny around then, do swing by!

Saturday 15 February 2014

especially for my fabulous students

When I handed over the manuscript for Eco Colour back on March 19th, 2007 I had no idea what an exciting path was about to unfold.
Nearly seven years on I’ve been on the most glorious adventures, many of which are entirely due to kind folk joining me over a cauldron.
I think it’s time for a celebration.
Given the very kind response to stuff,steep+store I want to put together a book that honours my wonderful students [many of whom are now my friends, bless you].
So here’s the plan.
If you have been a student of mine and would like to take part, please
[1]  write a brief statement about yourself   100-200 words
[2]  write a story about something that you have made or dyed as a result of being in a class and what that piece means to you   100-200 words
[3] supply three images of the work, one “hero” shot and two details 
[4] supply a picture of yourself, or if you are camera-shy... of your garden, or your studio assistant

[5] include the name of the photographer if it isn't you
Martha assisting in the studio
Images will need to be high resolution 300dpi  and sized at least about 23 cm [9 inches] as the minimum physical dimension.
If that doesn’t make any sense to you then simply email me the images at their original size and I will do the rest.

There’s no cost to participate, you can choose to buy the book or not - the only condition is that you have taken a class with me at some point. [Do please remind me which class it was…bears sometimes need a bit of prompting.]

When all the words and pictures have been gathered I will collate them into a book and make it available on Blurb. 

please send your contributions to 

lets take March 19th, 2014 as a date to aim for getting all your bits together. [and if there's a tidal wave of them it will either be a very fat book or several volumes!]
Felix, training to be a studio assistant

Thursday 13 February 2014

in which the Dogs Above have mercy

it rained today
and i was very grateful
we've had a record 13 days above 40 C this summer
[that translates as 104F and above]
the highest was 46 [114.8]
too warm for this bear

you may have noticed i was getting a bit crabby in recent posts

but today's puddles cheered me up enormously
despite the deceased rat that was discovered in a rainwater tank
- now thankfully removed, along with the sullied water

i took to the paddocks with a cauldron
and some silk
gathering material from the ground
and packing it in the pot
for stewing back in the house

also delighted that the Mansfield retreat is attracting commitments

and is 25% filled already, even though November is a ways off
details on my website near the bottom of the page

and in case you'd like to look at old stories from Mansfield

here are some
and some more
and then from 2010

Wednesday 12 February 2014


i get a lot of correspondence from people wanting me to advise them on dyeing. some of it gets quite specific. 

i am sharing this one, not because i want to pick on this person or poke fun or be an inter-bitch but because my responses may answer similar questions for others. [please bear this in mind if you are moved to comment.]

[i have changed the name of my correspondent to the non-gender specific Jordan to save him/her possible embarrassment but otherwise have not edited their messages]

Dear Ms. Flint, I hope this email finds you well. I recently purchased your book Eco Colour and I am totally in love with it! I love the way you wrote it and all the information in it. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and for creating such a wonderful book! I'm a holistic interior designer and for the first time I'm venturing into the wonderful world of natural dyeing. I'm interested in developing a line of nautical fabrics that can be used for upholstering, window treatment and beach wear. I am planning to use Linens and Silks for upholstering and window treatments, and for the beachwear I'm planning to use several blends of organic cottons. Some of these blends are a mixture of cotton with bamboo and spandex (around 5%), cotton with soy and spandex, and cotton with hemp. I wanted to kindly ask you if you could possibly guide me as to what kinds of dyes are the most permanent and the ones that are more likely to withstand fading as a result of the sun, salt water, and even chlorine from a swimming pool? I will deeply appreciate from the bottom of my heart any information that you can share with me. Thank you for being such an inspiration. My warmest regard, - Jordan 


Dear Jordan
Thank you for buying my book. I would be experimenting with local plants (and considering the impact that large scale production would have on the environment ) before launching a business.
Doing light and wash fastness tests etc.  and I'd be researching the properties of the fabrics too.

In any event you have posed rather a lot of quite specific questions. Are you wishing to engage me as a consultant?



this message has been buzzed to you by a blue-tailed bee


Hello Ms Flin, what a pleasure to hear from you. My apologies for having bombarded you with so many questions. I am new to this and I thought that the more details I gave the better. What i wanted to know was basically if there is a particular type of natural dye that is more permanent than others. I guess the answer is not that simple. I am considering starting a home based business for local distribution. I live in a beach town where there are also lots of wooded areas which have a rich variety of vegetation. A lot of the things I create are from recycled materials also. I would love to hire you as a consultant but unfortunately i dont have a budget for it at this moment. If you provide me with your consultation fee I will make a note of it.  

Thank you again for responding to my email and congratulations on your wonderful book! 

My warmest regards,


dear Jordan

I too would respond more formally but as you have not advised me of your surname I am not in a position to do so. 

Nor have you given me any indication of where you live other than that you are in a beach town blessed with wooded areas. That you call it "wood" and not "bush" suggests that you are from somewhere other than Australia. That you write in English may narrow your location to an anglophonic region. But that could be anywhere and so my advice regarding the [to me unknown] vegetation would be meaningless.

If you have read the book you will know that it's not just about the vegetation, the growing location, the season of harvest but also about the quality of the local water, the choice of dye vessel and the type of fibre you wish to dye.

I've developed my methods based on a lifetime of working with textiles and plants. Dyeing funds my living.

Your proposal to develop a business as a result of acquiring my book is on a par with me deciding to set up as an aircraft technician after leafing through a book about planes. 

It would be both truthful and easy to say that indigo and eucalyptus are the two most durable dyes I know...but whether they would be suitable for your applications [you mention spandex and chlorine, two substances I avoid where possible] is not for me to speculate.

May I respectfully suggest that you begin by familiarizing yourself with the local flora? Learn to identify it, know what is protected and what can be gathered and then begin to conduct your own experiments within a context of responsible collection and resource management. Consider planting a dye garden. Peruse the local weed list. Make samples, conduct light and wash fastness tests and then you may be in a position to determine whether you might launch a viable business. You might even think about taking a class.

But you can't grow potatoes without digging the ground. *


*Unless you are going to build a raised bed. Either way it does still require some effort.

Monday 10 February 2014

in which a small white rabbit peeps over the brim of the hat

what with the waiting list for the Second Skin class in March being considerably bigger than the class itself
and Sally Harvey letting me know that the proposed renovations at lovely Crockett Cottage will have been completed this year

i decided that it really was time to plan another retreat at Mansfield.  

here's what i am dreaming...

three days at Mansfield in Victoria’s beautiful High Country, making and dyeing a beautiful and versatile SilkyMerino  second skin to keep you warm while wandering, together with an exquisite hand-stitched bag in which to carry it when it isn't being worn.

spring in Mansfield is gorgeous
and i'm looking forward to the roadtrip there

please drop me a line through the contact page on my website if you'd like more information
and what is a trampoline doing in the sea? i have no more idea than you do...

Tuesday 4 February 2014

humming the blues with Happinez and in good company

yesterday there was some interesting mail
in fact, quite a lot had drifted in whilst i was
across the wild blue yonder
 some of it even had bears on it
i like bears
one of the parcels contained a lovely magazine from France
it is not often that i see my name on the same page
as Albert Einstein
[even though he and my paternal grandfather were acquainted and 
Einstein's efforts on my grandfather's behalf in 1939 
contributed to our family's settling in South Australia, but that's another story ]
across from Jamie Oliver
or a scant 47 pages away from Paulo Coelho
what really made me happy
was that they had also published an image of my friend Roz's work
[they used mostly images that had appeared in Second Skin]
which brings me to the other bit of news
 Roz and i have dreamed up a new plan
[we had one earlier but the fates intervened]
we are calling it 
and you can wear your blue jeans
if you want