Meet The Maker: Wild Dye Garden – Flora Arbuthnott

7

July 2017

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…

 “Every piece is unique with subtle textures and irregularities. I love the magic of dyeing with indigo, the contrast of the deep blues and white fabric.”
 

What aspect of shibori dyeing do you love the most?

Shibori is such a simple way of getting repeat geometric patterns on textiles. Every piece is unique with subtle textures and irregularities. I love the magic of dyeing with indigo, the contrast of the deep blues and white fabric.

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?

I am inspired by the natural world, by seeing what plants are out around me and exploring what colours they produce. Creating patterns with shibori and over-dyeing with different colours to create patterns. Now is an exciting time of year because the buddleia flowers are out and the roses are out – these make yellow and pink.

What would be your advice to anyone just starting to experiment with shibori methods of dyeing?

Keep it simple. You can play around just using clothes pegs, clips and string and make really interesting patterns. Make sure you do concertina folds. Start with thin loose weave fabric, and don’t bind the fabric too tightly so the dye can penetrate.

“You can play around just using clothes pegs, clips and string and make really interesting patterns.”

What’s next for you, any new projects you’d like to share?

I am running workshops in various natural dyeing techniques, including shibori resist techniques, and sharing the explorations I have done over the past few years into plant based processes for dyeing.

You can find out more about all the wonderful workshops and walks that Flora leads at the Wild Dye Garden website.

All photos: Flora Arbuthnott

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