Result of Eucayptus bundle and Dio Day Out

Most natural dyers say ‘time is your friend’ and encourage you to leave bundles soaking for weeks before opening for the colors to deepen.  Normally I can’t wait that long to see the results and don’t leave them for longer than a few days!  So going overseas was an ideal opportunity to leave them soaking.

I had a mordanted (alum and cream of tartar) pre loved cream blanket


that I bundled into a sausage shape with Eucalyptus cinerea.


I boiled it in a brass preserving pan for several hours and left it soaking while we were away.


After 2 months there was some mould on the top


but it did have some deep colorings.


It was exciting opening it and this is the result, washed and dry.

blanket compressed

I was surprised that some of the background color stayed a creamy/beige color, specially on the inside of the bundle. I am guessing the liquid did not penetrate that far. Maybe I should have rolled it wet?

I have not boiled a whole blanket with eucalyptus like this before so can not comment on whether the results are different, but I was pleased with the variety of markings.

I cut the blanket up and made cushions backed with other natural dyed blanket of a solid color, I even mastered button holes and used recycled buttons. I struggled using the synthetic polyester inner! I had also made other cushions of dyed silk and used a recycled mans shirt as the backing, (no need for buttonholes!!) an idea gleaned from my artist friend Charlotte Giblin of Bouncing Pig.

Half of them sold at the recent ‘Dio Day Out’, a fundraiser for the local Waikato Diocesan School for Girls. My friend David Lloyd has his sub tropical garden, with zany sculptures, studio and gallery open for visitors. There were several other artists exhibiting including David with his recycled wood works, Fiona Tunnicliffe from Putaruru with her signature pottery animals, Travis Taylor, a Graffiti artist and Jennie De Groot a modern impressionist painter. Jennie  is a very productive painter and has an amusing blog  called The Distracted Painter

Dio Day out cropped

My display at Dio Day Out

Here are other photos of the gallery taken by Jennie De Groot




935122_261602060631147_99853257_nNext time I will show some more bundles that were left brewing.


Treasures and Alice Fox

You may remember that when we went overseas I planned to collect leaves and treasures and do a bundle a day and microwave them when I had access to one. This is what I took.

ImageWe stayed in Hotels, Guest Houses or Bed and Breakfasts with no microwave, other than once in Edinburgh. So this is all that I achieved.


I was thrilled with the variety of these 6 rectangles, that are enough to sew into a cushion top as a souvenir.

The dark marks were from found metal or bottle tops.

One of my favorite artists and whose blog I follow is English artist Alice Fox who recently had an exhibition called ‘Gifts from the Pavement’.  Her observations, images, marks and discarded objects from around  the streets of Saltaire, West Yorkshire form the basis of this exhibition.

The natural world is her inspiration and she works mainly on paper and cloth. She has some lovely Pinterest boards.

Alice was Artist in Residence at Spurn National Nature Reserve, East Yorkshire during 2012. Over a six-month period she engaged with and responded creatively to the unique landscape of Spurn culminating in an exhibition.

She inspired me to do my residency at the Arboretum, so thanks Alice.

More next time of the bundles that I left brewing while I was away.


A gift to myself

My husband and I are going to London tomorrow and get to catch up with both of our adult children. We will travel Scotland and Ireland together as a family and then we go on to Italy, so it’s countdown now.

I have been in touch with Monika from red2white blog who does amazing natural dyeing and lives in the Western highlands of Scotland. If we are in the area and she is available it would be great to connect.

I was tidying up my dyeing materials and found a bucket of Eucalyptus cinerea that had been soaking for about 3 months, it was a bit slimy and smelly! I also found a pot of Tupelo leaves soaking and another pot of Tanekaha that had been soaking for about the same time and other random collections of foliage.

So I have given myself a gift for when I return at the end of September and done about 12  bundles to leave soaking.

As all natural dyers know, time is your friend. The longer bundles are left the deeper the colour usually. So now they have an enforced 5 week soaking period and I won’t be here to be tempted to open them!


Some were wound on PVC pipe, some on iron pipe, one on a rusty can – see notjustnat blog of 8 August for her great results.


IMG_1122I also rolled a pre mordanted wool blanket (alum and cream of tartar) with eucalyptus cinerea and have it boiling in a brass preserving pan now. It will probably steam as it does not quite fit in.



I am taking 33  zip lock bags, 33 small oblongs of cloth, two wooden dowel rods and string. I plan to collect treasurers each day and do a bundle a day and microwave them when I have access to one. And no I won’t be taking leaves between countries!!


So that’s it from me for 5 weeks or so.  I’ll have some interesting reports when I return.

Friday at the Park

It was a stunning winters day on Friday, a cool start but the sun shone and actually had some warmth in it.

Looking toward Pirongia

Looking toward Pirongia

The Park has its winter coat on with most of the autumn colour finished but there was still stunning colour around.




The Quarry pond looked dark and still with no sign of the usual fish.

Looking down on the Quarry Pond

Quarry pond

Quarry pond

Remember the fabric I had wrapped around the Kahikatea trunk with Harakeke?

Kahikatea trunk wrapped

Here are the results.


P1200837Wool blanket – front – showing the Harakeke (Flax) strapping marks


Reverse of wool blanket that was against the trunk




The cotton I had buried under the Tanekaha tree mulch for eight weeks had been eaten by presumably worms!!


I am not sure if these fabrics will be coloured after rinsing as there has been no heat. Will keep you posted.

I put a brew on of walnuts that had been soaking for about 4 weeks. They were rather smelly when they came to the boil!! This is a merino scarf that I folded in half lengthwise, inserted Gum leaves and wrapped it around a PVC pipe. I like the string marks but will over dye it as its looking a bit pale.


I had a lovely chat to Irene, a spinner and weaver from Auckland who was visiting the Park for the first time after attending the Creative Fibre exhibition in Cambridge. She has done a lot of wool dyeing over the years for weaving and gave me tips on mordants, recommended several books that I had not heard of, and plants worth growing for dyeing ie Madder and Woad, so will research these.

Unfortunately the Sculpture Park closes its gates to the public after 30th June. This is a huge loss of a great asset to the region. The Trust are investigating alternate funding avenues that hopefully come to fruition.

If you are keen to continue visiting you can arrange to purchase an annual pass for $50 per adult. It will also remain open for events.

My three-month residency has been an invaluable and most enjoyable experience. Being surrounded by nature and art in that stunning environment is good for the soul.  I have learnt a lot about plant dyes and a lot more about trees and plants. I have loved chatting to visitors and exposing them to the beauty and simplicity of natural dyes.

I will continue to visit the Park and look forward to observing many more seasonal changes. There are still many more trees I would like to dye with, particularly our natives.


Colour from Nature exhibition

‘Colour from Nature’ showcases my recent work as Artist in Residence at the Sculpture Park. Held in the David Lloyd Gallery in Lake Crescent, Hamilton, a small but spectacular space with excellent lighting including natural light from a raised roof feature. David is a legendary Hamilton identity, ex Davids Emporium, who is an artist, philanthropist and I am privileged to call him a special friend and supporter.

David Lloyd Gallery and Studio thanks to Jennie de Groot

David Lloyd Studio (left) and Gallery (right)  Photo thanks to Jennie de Groot

Thank you to my friends Grace and Donna who helped me install the work. Some Items were suspended which were tricky to install but it all looked professional.

The opening was very well attended with lots of friends, fellow textile artists and other artists mingling and enjoying mulled wine and marshmallows. I had a large vase of Eucalyptus cinerea and a pot brewing to add to the experience!


The statement piece on the end wall is a sampler of stunning dyed raw edged pieces organically stitched to a dyed cotton lawn background that I had used a metal hinge in the pot. Made up of silks and cottons, this piece showed different methods, including rolling silk on Raupo, around an iron rod and stone bundled. It showcased the variety of colours and patterns achievable. I used small black eyelets to hang it, which were effective and unobtrusive.

A touch of iron cropped

A popular stitched works was ‘Brown Long’ with the centre piece featuring cotton and linen stitched onto a cotton background that had been mordanted with Soya milk and rolled on an iron pipe and boiled. The wool batting was dyed with walnut and left exposed. It was hung by black eyelets. With a tinge of pink it looked very moody.

Brown long

Another stitched work was ‘Brown square’, using mainly Habotai silk and cotton it is stitched onto a dyed wool blanket. Eyelets were used to hang it.
Brown square cropped

As the exhibition had a short lead in time I displayed my sampler that I made in the India Flint class in January 2013 and to promote her next class in Titirangi in January 2014. I acknowledged India and Glenys Mann for igniting my passion for natural dyeing and eco prints.
India Flint class sampler

There were also several stand alone pieces not stitched, just beautiful samples of silk and silk organza.

On the other wall were the suspended pieces.

A wool blanket mordanted with Alum and Cream of Tartar featured Oak, Eucalyptus cinerea and Liquid Amber (right)

The work I featured on the publicity was the most popular work and sold first to my cast glass friend Di Tocker of Hamilton.


I had also dyed a wool T Shirt and a wool blend long sleeved T shirt (right).

The two Merino Ponchos were popular and both sold.
The pattern is from the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin.

Ponchos cropped

Alternate way to wear Poncho

Alternate way to wear Poncho

Visitors were fascinated with the bowl of threads. Each time I have a brew on I try to remember to throw in either cotton or silk thread for stitching later.

Natural dyed cotton and silk

Special visitors over the weekend included textile artists Louise Porter and Allie Snow from Auckland.

Louise Porter, Allie Snow from Auckland and Anne Bell from Hamilton

L-R Louise Porter, Allie Snow and Anne Bell from Hamilton

Also two very special visitors and fellow class mates from the India Flint class made a spontaneous decision to drive from Auckland.  Heidi Monks from Titirangi, organised the India Flint class and Andrea Eimke from Atiu Island, Cook Islands who runs the Atiu Fibre Arts Studio and was in Auckland on a one-week workshop at AUT learning about incorporating electronic components into her art.

Heidi and Andrea outside David's studio

Heidi and Andrea outside David’s studio

Five works have a red maple leaf beside them (in lieu of a red dot) and are going to a new home!

I am thrilled with the presentation and the response I have had to my work with many words of praise and encouragement. Visitors were genuinely interested in the process and amazed at the variety of results.

The exhibition will be up for another few weeks. If anyone would like to see it please email me at to make arrangements to view it.

Colour from Nature

I have been busy this week stitching and preparing for a small exhibition of my latest works at a gallery just down the street from me.

It will showcase my recent Artist in Residence work and hopefully interest people in the benefits and scope of natural dyes.

For the locals I hope you can make it over the weekend. For other followers I will post images next week.Color from Nature Here is a sneak peek of the detail of two of the works.




Latest results

I had several bundles to open

Bundles in Liquid Amber leaves

these had been boiled and left soaking for a week in Liquid Amber leaves. They all gave a pinky brown result depending on the fabric.


The boiled Bay Leaves had been steeping for the week. The results were disappointing colour wise but they did leave pale green eco prints. The silk I used does not seem to dye well.

Bay Leaves

I placed these Gum leaves and Eucalyptus cinerea branch on a piece of mordanted (Alum and Cream of Tartar) wool blanket, folded it in half and rolled it on a 90mm PVC pipe and placed it in a tall aluminium container (that I bought for $2 at the Dump Shop) with soaked gum leaves. I was thrilled with the result.

Aluminium container


John was pruning the Kauri trees in the Tauwhare Village so I claimed the prunings. This was a real gift as I would never use Kauri  as they are so slow growing. I have only used windfall leaves, which make a nice eco print but give very little color.

Kauri prunings

The results were a very subtle shade of fawn.

Kauri on Habotai silk

Kauri on habotai silk

Kauri on raw silk

Kauri on raw silk








The park still has a lot of autumn colour and the flowering cherry trees by the pond were stunning.

Flowering Cherries


I am terribly disappointed for the Park and owners John and Dorothy Wakeling, that it will be closing at the end of the month.  It is a real gem and a unique asset to the region. I know there is a dedicated team exploring funding all funding options and hopefully it may open in the future.