The Creative Granary

My Story

As a lifelong craftswoman, although never being formally trained, I have much experience in many different crafts, starting at an early age in primary school when I learnt how to sew and experienced the joy of pottery, with the feel of the clay squeezing through my fingers was the start of my love with this medium.

Family members went on to teach me crochet, knitting, hand quilting, embroidery and making clothes, etc. and it was at this stage that I was given my first sewing machine, albeit nearly 100 years old, but it was no less efficient than the electric one I use today.

At secondary school I chose woodwork, metalwork, lino printing, art, sewing and revisited pottery and at the same time, at home, took up plant pressing, rug making and tapestry.

Always interested in colouring fabric and making patterns, I learnt tie dyeing in the 1970s, and in the 1980s started researching and experimenting with natural plant dyes, although not in a position to take it any further until a few years ago.  With my life long and compulsive interest in growing plants, mainly vegetables, herbs and fruit, always from seed, I inevitably turned to dye plants and now have quite a young, four year old, dye garden which produces the dyes needed for the workshops, although some dyes can also be made from fruit and vegetable matter.

Madder

Alkanet

Japanese Indigo

Once the dye plant seedlings have formed a reasonable main stem length (about 20cm) with some branchlets, it's time to transplant into their final pots.  

Here I have Japanese Indigo which is an annual plant and I'm using 15 litre pots with half well rotted manure and half good quality compost, which is sufficient for one plant for the whole of the season, no fertiliser necessary, until they flower and set seed and then the plant is cut down and disposed of.

As I grow quite a lot of annual dye plants I find pots, which come in all shapes and sizes, perfectly adequate then when the plant is of no more use I can reuse the soil on the vegetable garden and then start again the following year with a fresh mixture of compost for new plants, and so the cycle continues.

In 2004 I gave up full time employment to help on the farm and this gave me more time to pursue my passion with crafts.  I started working with wood once more, woodturning and fretwork.  Later came soap making, pottery again, which I still love working with all these years later, sketching, painting, weaving, spinning and in 2015/16 returned to fabric dyeing and have combined this with crafts learnt in earlier times.

 

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