I’m not long back from a glorious week teaching at Chateau Dumas. It is as wonderful as it looks. I’ve never had such a luxurious teaching experience!
The Art of Textiles course covered masses of creative techniques over the course of 6 days and we started with my experimental and freestyle approach to natural dyes. The students loved this! We made solar dye jars with onion skins, walnut leaves, red cabbage, alder cones and saffron and left them to cook for the week, adding some iron when they got exhausted (colour running out) to bring out darker shades.
We made simple dye pots of local plants including walnut (which grows everywhere in the area including in the chateau grounds), and a mysterious yellow plant, red grapes, tea, turmeric, red onion skins and much more. Rust dyeing was also popular, after we collected piles of rusty metal from the Sunday morning flea market. Lots of the students used their gorgeous vintage linens from the market too, as did I, but most of my samples are still winging their way back from France in a very heavy box. We also made dye bundles from flowers, fruit, dyestuffs (like saffron) and boiled them in plain water or dye. Later in the week we got a steamer working and then were able to make the stunning leaf prints shown above. We all spent the week with stained fingernails from poking around in walnut dye vats! But no one cared and everyone loved it, even those who said they weren’t interested in natural dye. I couldn’t ask for a better response!
My next dye workshop in the UK will be covering most of these techniques, at the Black Country Museum in October. We won’t, alas, be doing solar dyeing as I suspect there won’t be as much sun as in the South of France – although I will be grateful for the lack of mosquitos!