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Inspiration #9

Making space for creativity...


As I sit down to write this, I realise I'm supposed to be in my "Creative Space". It's so easy to sideline time for creativity - so many reasons not to make time for it, so many distractions and fears. I've been experimenting in recent months with dividing my day into creative mornings and admin afternoons. It's been working well mostly - there seems to be more balance with the making and the admin parts of my work and I've certainly been making more...


In my Creative Space recently I've felt inspired to explore the world of natural dyeing. I first became interested after reading an article in Selvedge magazine about making placemats out of material dyed with red cabbage and black beans back in March 2018! I remember telling Dan, my partner, not to use the red cabbage in the fridge as I wanted to use it for dyeing and I bought a packet of black beans ready to start this exciting project. Unfortunately, the red cabbage ended up going mouldy and the black beans are still in the cupboard unopened!


Two years later, at a friend's birthday gathering last month, I fell in love with a gift she'd been given, The Wild Dyer by Abigail Booth. The placemat project in the Selvedge magazine was in this book! The next day I bought the book and I've been exploring the joys of this new world of natural textile dyeing ever since!

The first thing I made was drawing ink out of oak galls collected in Wales, Suffolk and East London. This is how ink was made in the medieval times and what the ancient manuscripts are written in. It certainly seems to stand the test of time. Oak galls are formed by gall wasps laying grubs inside acorns and forming a hard growth full of natural tannins and can be found on oak trees:



I've been using the hand made oak gall ink to draw wild oats collected from the allotment:


These original dip pen and ink drawings are available to purchase for £45.00 from my website here.



And I've been experimenting with the effect of oxidising ink and material using iron mordant made out of vinegar and rusty nails which are surprisingly hard to find but luckily my step father had a whole shelf full of them in his workshop:



My first batch of natural dyed material (organic unbleached calico) was dyed with waste coffee grounds and it didn't take long to collect enough for a dye vat in our house:


I also discovered I could make drawing ink out of coffee using the same method as the oak gall ink and then, to my delight, discovered I could also turn that into fabric ink!


These discoveries led to my creation of a "Coffee Cosy", the first in my new natural dyed homeware products series. The "Coffee Cosy" is designed for a cafetiere, or French Press, to keep the coffee warm, ready for top ups on those slow Sunday mornings. Most of the coffee cosy designs I've seen involve fiddly buttons or ties, and often lead to coffee drip stains which can be off putting so I've designed one that can easily be placed over the cafetiere keeping it nice and insulated and then removed for pouring to avoid the dreaded drips. And it's machine washable too!


The design and making process involved printing and hand painting coffee plants on the coffee dyed fabric using fabric ink made from waste coffee grounds and block printing with an actual coffee bean!



Although this is the prototype and there are a few further design adjustments to be made on the final design, I am aiming to release this reversible "Coffee Cosy" as a pattern and limited edition kit by the end of September - email me to express your interest and I'll make sure you're the first to know when they're released!


Here's a video of the coffee bean block printing process - fashioned out of a coffee bean attached to the end of a pencil dipped in fabric ink made from waste coffee grounds:



And here is the coffee cosy and matching coaster set in use:


A few pics of the design and making process:


It's been an absolute joy to develop this idea right through to the (nearly) finished product and this wouldn't have happened had I not committed to spending more time in my Creative Space.


The first cohort of my new online course - Creative Space - for people who want to make more time for making - has been a huge success - not just personally, there have been some wonderful creations and a really supportive and inspiring creative community is forming. It has gone so well that I have decided to run it again in September. So if you missed it the first time, click here to sign up to the next cohort which starts on 21st September 2020 and you've still got time to save £50 on the early bird offer (valid until 8pm UK time 6th Sept).




"The desire to create

is one of the deepest yearnings

of the human soul."

DIETER F. UCHTDORF


So my washing line has had a lot of this going on lately and it's a good job the weather has been so warm for all the rinsing and drying that is involved in natural dyeing. The best thing is that I can give my garden a good drink with all the left over dye bath and waste water:



I've also been dyeing seasonally, using yarrow collected at sunset using my new Japanese garden scissors on and Wanstead flats. It produced the most lovely chamomile smell while the dye vat was simmering and the fabric has come out a beautiful soft yellow.



I also experimented with sloe berries, or hawthorn collected from the allotment. There seems to be such an abundance of sloes this year and this will be the first time I use them to make dye instead of gin! The fabric was dyed a lovely soft pink and I dipped half in iron mordant which produced a complimentary dark grey - beautiful colour combination:



It feels like the beginning of a long and beautiful journey ahead into the abundant world of natural dyeing. I hope you've enjoyed this snap shot into my Creative Space and stay tuned for more workshops, courses, patterns and kits.


In other news, there has been a lot of interest in my new Online Mindful Drawing Course released last month - a huge thank you from me to all my subscribers, followers and members of the Still Point Sketchers private Facebook community for your support. The 20% discount offer for members of the Still Point Sketchers group has now expired but I am offering a 10% discount for all my subscribers: enter the code "subscriber" to receive your 10% discount on the Mindful Drawing Course (valid until 30th September 2020)



“It’s like yoga for the sketchbook!”

Beth Morris


I also wanted you to be the first to know about the new 6 week Mindful Drawing Course that will be run as a series of 6 weekly live sessions via Zoom every Tuesday starting on Tuesday 22nd September 2020 from 6pm UK time til 6.45pm UK time. The mindful drawing sessions are a great way to unwind after a busy day and perfect for those who need the accountability and support of a group to feel motivated to get on the page.

The course costs £90 for all six sessions and is available to book here:



“The live Mindful Drawing sessions and the community was just what I needed to find the confidence to create and rediscovering the joy of drawing again. I have realised just how much I missed drawing and how much I need it for my wellbeing.”



“I found the sessions really helpful. My confidence has grown and I continue to draw or make time for something creative every day.”

And that's all for this month, I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog post and don't forget to make use of your exclusive discount on the Mindful Drawing Online Course - enter the code "subscriber" to receive 10% off (offer valid until 30th September 2020)




And don't miss out on the chance to save £50 on the early bird offer for the 6 week online course Creative Space - (offer valid until 6th September 2020).




And finally, sign up now to book your place on the six week live Mindful Drawing Online Course on Zoom here:




finding stillness in creativity

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