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Natural Alchemy

Mother Nature Rules

There is something about the process of dyeing with natural materials that feels like a partnership between the fibre artist and Mother Nature - with Mother Nature very much the senior partner. 
Her palette is incredible. It changes with the seasons. Leaves picked in autumn give quite a different colour than those picked in spring. Soil, water, temperature all affect the plant's growth and the colour that can be extracted from bark, leaf or root.
A natural dyer cannot hurry nature. Neither can the natural dyer demand or expect absolute uniformity in hue and tone. There are mordants, temperature, water pH levels and after dye natural modifiers than may be used and which offer a level of control over the outcome, but the raw material itself is as Mother Nature decided for that plant in that season in that place.
A natural dyer looks closely at plants, is inspired by landscape and is mindful of responsible harvesting. Foraging for colour is a more accurate term. Being aware of the seasonal changes that cause leaves and branches to drop - or even council green collection days which are based around best times for pruning - offer opportunities to gather dye stuff that is not available in my own dye garden. My general rule is no more than a third from a live plant in the garden and dropped leaves and branches in the bush. Council pruning and green waste offers a less restricted source.
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