The beginning of the Textile Farm’s Travelling Creative Apothecary.

As the Masters degree research comes to a close, it feels like the beginning of an exciting journey, an essence of place has been captured in dyes, pigments and fibres from the land, here at The Textile Farm. Compact and transportable, the ability to examine other environments whilst always staying connected to this special place. It was extremely important during this research to keep it simple. To reduce the fast paced ’clutter’ of modern life. Using hands as a primary tool enabled an engagement with the materials that by searching on ’how to’ tutorials you dont get. I think there is a stage we completely skip: That of communication and learning from that dialogue with materials. The tools become over complicated, the process maybe confusing or drawn out possibly for commercial gain. We lose the essence of being creative, really being creatively resourceful, just as our ancestors had to be. It may even put us off from even trying to have a go. Everything has necessity to be done quickly and that opportunity for narrative is lost. The conversation with the environment could alter our perspective if only we engaged in that dialogue. A quick way is not always the best way, it could be a missed opportunity.

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.

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