Meet The Maker: Wild Dye Garden – Flora Arbuthnott
author: Hannah Burgess
As part of this month’s Shibori Kit we thought we’d get in touch with a shibori and indigo dyeing pro to find out more about the craft we enjoyed so much when hand-dyeing our tote bags.
Flora Arbuthnott of the Wild Dye Garden is well-versed in natural dyeing and regularly runs workshops in Bristol with a big focus on sustainability and the natural world. She also runs workshops on printmaking and hosts seasonal wild plant walks on how to identify natural dyes and forage for food (amongst other things) around the Bristol and Devon area.
We caught up with Flora about all things shibori, including her inspiration and any advice for those of us who are just getting started with the shibori dyeing technique…
What aspect of shibori dyeing do you love the most?
How and where did you first find out about shibori?
I first came across shibori when researching traditional Japanese natural dyeing techniques. I started reading about shibori techniques and doing a lot of itajime. Itajime is when you fold and clamp your fabric between two pieces of wood to get geometric patterns. These techniques were traditionally used with indigo, but you can use any colour to get the effect.
“I am inspired by the natural world, by seeing what plants are out around me and exploring what colours they produce.”
Can you tell us what your first project was like?
I started exploring the different natural dyes you can get from plants that grow all around us. Using shibori to create resist patterns on textiles with colours from all sorts of plants, including oak, walnut, bracken, gorse, and bramble. We would read old dyeing books, and then go out walking, gather plants we had read about, and boil them up. The studio was filled with all sorts of beautiful smells!
Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?
What would be your advice to anyone just starting to experiment with shibori methods of dyeing?
“You can play around just using clothes pegs, clips and string and make really interesting patterns.”