The Blackberry Invader or Humble Bramble?

Along the narrow path, brambles had completely networked, crisscrossing in every direction, successfully blocking any entry through the path. The path barely identifiable. The first task was to open up this network and negotiate a compromise. Entering into a conversation, the boundaries between myself and their persistent invasion, became a much more civilised affair. Tackled with a pair of secateurs, (not a noisy, smelly, petrol strimmer, as indiscriminately tried and miserably failed in the past)and a resolution to not try to eradicate but to utilise the resource. What could I create from it?

Years previously I had made a successful yarn from the inner core of nettles by a process of drying, crushing stripping and so on. Alice Fox, whilst documenting her plot 105, has successfully been making cordage from bramble so this will be a possible experiment but first was to explore whether it yielded a dye successfully.

Natural bramble dye, from the leaves, stems and flowers no berries…yet, gave a lovely surprise…. Responding to different mordants and pH. Black ’berries’ as such offer a fugitive dye they are not lightfast, a stain more than offering a pigment. However, make interesting dyes and inks when you create a dialogue with the environment and something I am experimenting with in alternative processes for journalling this research. Tests will need to be done to assume whether this dyebath is lightfast but it is looking promising to use the resource within the colour scheme and definitely for this second module: sampling and testing. Trying not to repeat subjects, like Natural dyeing that can be readily obtained now through this World wide Web/digital library, I have wondered which way my practice is to go with regards to teaching. How to make a blackberry dyebath seems so easily learnt compared to when I started out over 15 years ago. The thoughtful musings of other journal writers such as Sarah Swett pondered the same it seems and came to a compromise that worked for them.

In order to make the switch from wide fashion cloth to narrow braids that can be interwoven and left outside to continue the narrative with the environment, the thickness of my yarns do need to be considered.

This year the aim of The Textile Farm, me, is to be self sufficient with the resources I use in my ’making’. With the exception of the art paper, a khadi rag paper, that has happened. Although I have made paper before,I think I succumbed to time limitations. Incidentally bramble and nettles and lots of resources I do use lend themselves so well to paper making.

Walking the boundaries

With the first module of my MA in….I have begun to give structure to my investigations and these reflections will form part of that process. The areas of the land that quite literarily ‘draw’ me to them are the wooded areas. Whilst very narrow areas they are situated on the periphery of the land…. The boundaries. This got me thinking about boundaries. What are they made up of? How many are there seen and unseen, visible or hidden?


I have set my own clear boundaries within the use of this land. To only farm using organic principles, to keep low stocked animals, grow crops resourcefully and to be mindful of structures I create being temporary and biodegradable. Being an artist, I continued working creating boundaries; with the materials and processes I use. Resourceful materials grown such as flax, plants for colour, foraged on the land like acorns, nettles and achillea or with animals I keep to provide fibres like mohair from my 3 beautiful angora goats. This led me onto to consider my own personal boundaries….not always so boundaried.

We create boundaries to mark ‘our’ land. This piece of land has a fence around it. Supposedly separating this piece from ‘other’ pieces. Yet within the land itself, boundaries are created, microcosms separated. How are they separated? Who or what separated them? Many boundaries are created by different criteria. Strayer et al(2003), Cadenesso et al (2003) and Kolasso (2014) suggest defining that criteria is necessary to consider an ‘investigation’ of the boundaries. Cadenesso stresses the importance of specifying the ‘boundary’ that is under investigation by considering three areas: the boundary itself but also the ‘patch’ that lies beyond and the ‘flow’ between them. This does make sense as it isn’t always clear where the demarcation is, it’s not always clear, there are, as we know, grey or in this case ‘green’ areas. How does one affect the other? Cadenesso also suggests that there is a hierarchal structure within these areas. The type of flow between the two is affected by the materials, the energy, organisms and the information transferred for example. Both the boundary and the patch have there own unique architecture and composition. What makes them different?

Nature creates boundaries of her own.

Passionate about nature and the impact as humans we have on the environment: What boundaries should be in place to safeguard this relationship? How does nature create her own boundaries?

There’s a lot to think about.

References.

Cadenesso M.L et al. (2003) A framework for the theory of ecological boundaries

A treasured bounty

Take home this ‘fluff’ however, small and tenderly yet once more bathe but this time add some magic of vegetable skins, flowers, seeds or pods; of bark or leaves and warm to colour it’s veins. Let nature colour your creativity and join me on this magical mystical tour!

simple to spin
simple to spin

Have you ever walked past a field where there are the tufts of fleece entwined baron on the fence. Almost cleansed by the rain and involuntarily ‘hanging’ out to dry! Much later, 38 kgs later and more to come I am hooked, obsessed by this ‘fluff’ It offers so much; transformation into the promise; Of fibre to clothe,keep us warm, to adorn and give way to so much creativity.

plant dyed wools
plant dyed wools

I have alway had this need to take a raw item and follow the processes to create. Wool or fibres in general are the ultimate travelling companion for this journey. However, my tentative walk began from a different lane. From the garden path. It was at these humble beginnings my connection was made. Colour. Natural colour. Colour that is not uniform and although nature can provide bold brash colours she is more renowned for her subtlety, of muted shades and very much a tonal creator.

Throughout the seasons she quietly sometimes loudly rocks our world with an orchestra of colour. Just when you feel you know her; she surprises. For me to be able to learn, tap into mother natures own larder, to explore her lessons in creativity it is a treasure trove. So to walk past that innocent ‘fluff’ I can no longer do without thinking of what it can become. Like Cinderella’s pumpkin to be transformed into magnificence by magic. Natural magic.

Take home this ‘fluff’ however, small and tenderly yet once more bathe but this time add some magic of vegetable skins, flowers, seeds or pods; of bark or leaves and warm to colour it’s veins. Let nature colour your creativity and join me on this magical mystical tour!

%d bloggers like this: