Category Archives: stitched textiles

My textile work

Follow up to Talk to Region 7 Quilters Guild 6 Oct 2018

Madder, Weld and Woad dyed quilt

‘The River Ran Red’ A plant dyed quilt by Susan Dye. Mixed fabrics 2015

On Saturday 6th October I gave a talk about my quilt, ‘The River Ran Red’ at Eaton Bray  for Region 7 of the UK Quilters Guild.

This region covers Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire. And what a friendly and well organised group they are!

These regional days pack a lot in: traders’ stalls, a big bring and buy table and a raffle for guild funds, superb cake, show and tell of members’ quilts and, of course, talks.

The phenomenon that is Philippa Naylor

In the morning we were in for a treat. The speaker was international prize winning quilter Philippa Naylor. I have long admired Philippa’s exquisite, flowing whole cloth quilting, but I never realised what an absolute hoot she is. Her main message to the audience was that we should enjoy life to the full and that success does not depend on unique special talents or gifts. She told us that her success is down to dedication and lots of hard work. Anyone can achieve an outstanding standard of work, if you have the discipline and commitment. She says life is short, so do what you love and work at it until you become really good. She did also emphasise that having been born in Yorkshire helps, it gives you grit!

It was clear that Philippa knows how to remain connected to joy and fun which fuels her creativity and staying power. She entertained us in words and pictures with details of what she really loves in life. Family, her chickens and ducks, her flower and vegetable garden, her home, her county, beauty and nature. Hard not to smile just remembering how she conveyed her passion for life. And all of this shines through in her stunning quilts, several of which were on show.

River Ran Red Quilt

More modestly, the group heard a talk in the afternoon from me about my City and Guilds quilt inspired by the 19th Century Norwich Shawls. With added info on our dye garden and how to use grand teint plant dyes to achieve bright and fast colours on fabrics.

Here are some links I promised for anyone interested in learning more.

Costume and Textile Association (C&TA) – http://www.ctacostume.org.uk

Norfolk Museums Service https://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell has a Jacquard loom and displays of Norwich textiles.

The Castle Museum holds one of the country’s leading costume and textile collections.

Textile tours often feature as part of Norfolk and Norwich Festival https://nnfestival.org.uk/ and are also promoted by the C&TA. A good general trail is https://www.ifootpath.com/display-ifootpath-walk?walkID=839. The official tourist information centre tours take different themes every year and the programme can be found here https://www.visitnorwich.co.uk/shopping/shops/listing/tourist-information-centre/

Aviva Leigh – now based in the Norfolk market town of Aylsham – is a tinctorialist and designer who has studied and promoted the history of Norwich textiles and recently presented her work for the Geoffrey Squire Bursary Award of the CT&A recreating dyed woven textiles from 18C Norwich pattern books.

https://www.avivaleigh.com/colour-stories/2018/10/11/strips-stripes-amp-stories-exploring-18th-century-norwich-textiles

Books

Clabburn, Pamela (1995) The Norwich Shawl. Norfolk Museums Service London HMSO.

Hoyte, Helen (2010) The Story of the Norwich Shawl. Norwich: N. Williams.

Morris, Thelma (2008) Made in Norwich; 700 Years of Textile Heritage, Norwich: N.Williams.

Chenciner, R. (2000) Madder Red, A history of luxury and trade. Curzon, Caucasus World

Dean, J. Wild Colour – How to Grow, Prepare and Use Natural Plant Dyes. Mitchell Beazley, 2010

Liles, J. N. The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing: Traditional Recipes for Modern Use University of Tennessee Press, 1990

Cardon, D. Natural Dyes: Sources, Tradition, Technology and Science. Archetype Publications Ltd 2003

Suppliers

Mordants and plant dyes :

Willo Fibres http://www.willofibres.co.uk
Tim and Denise have taken over the dye supply business of P&M Woolcraft.

Helen Melvin at Fiery Felts http://www.fieryfelts.co.uk/shop/

For plants – a lovely family run nursery in Wales – https://www.7wells.co.uk

From Seed to Stitch

best stitch smaller

I am passionate about working with cloth and yarn dyed from plants you have grown yourself.
I gave a talk yesterday to the Chelmsford Embroiderers’ Guild.
I had a lovely evening. Thanks to Angela and June for inviting me and for your hospitality.
As follow up, here are some pointers for supplies and books I promised to share online.

References

Mordants and Natural Dyes
Earth Hues for extracts
George Weil  for plant dyes and mordants; especially aluminium acetate mordant for silk and vegetable fibres
P&M Woolcraft  very friendly and good prices
Wild Colours sells woad powder, dyes and provides lots of information
Fiery Felts  I forgot to mention this supplier in the talk but Helen is very good for dyes especially dried flowers hard to obtain elsewhere. Her booklet on indigo is also excellent.

Dyed threads as well as dyes and mordants
Renaissance Dyeing – based in France
Mulberry Dyer run by Debbie Bamford, a pre-eminent historical dyer who sells at re-enactor markets and also via etsy shop.

Books and blog

Jenny Dean  Doyenne of Natural dyeing in UK. Her landmark book is Wild Colour (2010) but all her books are excellent.

Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times (1996) by Elizabeth W Barber

The Story of Colour in Textiles (2013) by Susan Kay-Williams

Exhibition
Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge Sampled Lives till 7 October 2018

 

Red is the colour

TG red river quilt small

Norwich Red was a plant dyeing process for madder invented by Michael Stark in the 19th century. It was special for producing exactly the same shade of red on wool as on silk. Sadly the recipe has been lost. Otherwise I would definitely have tried it out for the quilt shown here. The decorative upper section is made from layers of silk/wool gauze dyed with madder. You can see how these shades differ to the pillar box red of the river – which consists of 100% wool.  The quilt was inspired by the sumptuous woven shawls exported from Norwich to royal courts around the globe in the Victorian era. The weavers themselves were often on the breadline. The Wensum is a chalk river, making it ideal for madder dyeing and it was reputed to have ‘run red’ when the many dyehouses in the city centre emptied their vats.

I have no evidence that there were any dyers in my family tree, although my family has been in Norfolk for many generations. It’s probably pure coincidence that I have the perfect name for what I am doing. I’ve spent most of my life embarrassed about having a name that sounds like an instruction to ‘keel over’ and ‘shuffle off this mortal coil’. I like my surname a lot more nowadays.