These are why i believe natural dyes in textile arts are important to me and to others with this passion, no matter their “technique” or Practice. Ixchel Suarez had asked about this in a post on FB, in a natural dye group, about the importance of natural dyes to tapestry, *almost* intimating that it was the one use of the medium/material where it was so important, but i know there are other embroiderers, knitters, weavers of all the sorts, twiners, basket makers, rug hookers, book makers, fabric designers etc. who also use exclusively natural dyes. I can’t imagine using commercially dyed threads on anything now! There are nuances to natural colour that can never be replicated in synthetic dyes, and everything always “goes together”.
I know a lot of people can’t tell the difference between synthetic and natural dyes, just to look at them. I’m at a point though myself that when i look at photos of other natural dyers work, i can usually tell what dye they used, whether it’s tried and true historically accurate natural dyes, or “food waste” S**T. Really, i can. Really! There’s something warm and poetic about madder in all its antique hues, indigo and finding beauty in the palest to darkest, no “wrong” blue as a result, clear as the golds and leaf russets of osage, the aureate luminosity of rhubarb root (as prosaic as that one sounds…), the terra cotta nobility of cochineal and cutch, the royal richness of purples from lac, cochineal and logwood. SIGH.
I haven’t done any dyeing since before we moved to our new home, too much going on, too many other projects, but i’m starting to run out of threads especially. I’m planning for 2020 (i can’t believe that at all, that it’s going to BE 2020), and trying to figure out a schedule of sorts with flexibility for making the materials i use, and then making from/with *that* making 🙂 The best i can figure is to devote a week every 2 months (as needed, because surely i won’t have to do it EVERY month) to the dyeing, a week for paperwork, putzing and planning, and two for making. That still isn’t written in stone of course: part of this whole thing is the spontaneity generated by excitement, discovery, tangent, possibility!
I’m not making Grand Art right now (with the exception maybe of the patient Samara, and hopefully others like her), but i am making art that other people enjoy, and that *I* enjoy making. I see all these together and i get excited all over again, knowing that i, me did this from “scratch”–i may not have grown the sheep or cotton plant or moth cocoon, or woven or spun the cloth and thread, but i still “made” these fabrics and fibres, i coloured them and that’s pretty damn satisfying.
Would i be as rapturous if it was the “old days” and i was using commercially bought, commercially made, commercially dyed materials? Not sure, don’t care: i am where i am, and where i need to be now, now.
I also have in mind to if not REPLICATE, but to redux, remake, re-interpret a few older works in natural dyes:
Too, there are also old techniques i favoured, themes i loved, and mediums, and i’m testing some for the use of natural dyes in them. So many ideas! Piles, heaps, hills, masses, oodles and multitudes, stacks and torrents! Good thing it’s not 2020 yet 🙂