As one dark rainy day slips into the next here on the west coast, I find comfort in the warmth of wool and the plant dyed colours I create with.

Waiting for Motherhood

I originally became interested in plant dyes for environmental reasons. Here in the woods we are dependant on a well and septic field and I never felt quite right about dumping the chemicals used in regular dye into our beautiful land. For a while I used both chemical and natural dyes, mainly out of a lack of patience. It only takes 45 minutes, start to finish, to dye with chemicals – an excellent example of instant gratification.

With Natural Plant Dyes, it takes hours over a 3 days period to achieve the best quality of colour. There is a lot of waiting involved, each step works best if you leave nature alone to work its magic. It gives the plant time to release the full depth of its, sometimes hidden, colour. But it is well worth the wait. Over the years I have found that the process is also sensitive to my moods, the best results coming when I am centered and in tune with the flow of things.. taking a note from the Slow Food movement, plant colour is best described as Slow Colour.

It has taken me a while to be able to really articulate what is so special about this type of colour. On the surface there is the environment aspect; all the waste from the dye kitchen now feeds my happy compost heap. And the deep historical ties; most of the dye plants I use have been used for thousands of years.

While I do love the fact that each plant has its own unique story to tell, it is more than that… it is the quality of the colour itself. It goes so far beyond anything chemicals can imitate. Plant colours are profoundly complex and, above all, they are Alive! Filled with the rich living energy of the sun and the natural world!

Working with these magical colours helps me through this tricky time of year. Instead of sinking into the darker moods I used to really struggle with, I now sink myself into plant colour that simply glows with all the sunshine and energy that the plants absorbed as they grew. I feel it deeply and it keeps me connected to the beauty of the changing seasons.

I know that nature needs this time to rest in preparation for a new explosion of colour. I am just so grateful that I can have nature’s true colours right here in my studio to inspire me and help me through these dark days while I wait.

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