This week was a special one, quite a busy one in fact as well as hosting “The True Colour of the Cotinus” Exhibition at the Glasgow Botanical garden and a Cotinus printing masterclass I had the very great privilege to welcome the S1 pupils of a local school for a two days workshop in Botanical Printing and Natural dying. A whole 100 children and their teachers from Jordanhill School came by to learn about Eco techniques.
Before Covid kicked in I used to teach those workshops but somehow the 2 years gap seemed to make them more meaningful so this time and it was truly a great experience.
Off course I did not teach 100 children in the one session. That would be completely mad. Small groups of 12 gathered around the table and together we rolled some bundles. We used local leaves and simmered them in Sapan wood, a natural dye from South East Asia that gives a great pink. Natural dye can be of very happy colours.
I wanted to show them that you can create great patterns by just using nature.
Once the bundles were in the dye pot we moved to Natural dying some small section of silk with fresh leaves of Japanese Indigo. It is a very special process and quite a unique one as the Indigo is grown in the Botanical Garden in my dye garden I called “The Indigo plot” . Very few growers grow Japanese Indigo in Scotland this is probably the only school this autumn that has had the chance to try their hand at that technique. We used the salt rub method. That consist in rubbing the leaves until the Indoxyl in them comes out and when rubbing the silk in it it oxidises with oxygen and becomes blue. It is a magical process and the children loved it. They spent a good amount of the time trying to understand how it worked and the rest of the time finding out how to get the best blue. Three groups trying all to get the best blue. It was a lot of fun.
The children left with their bundles unopened and I will have to wait to see the results but I hear they loved the experience and the pink papers are looking great. I cant wait to receive the photos.
It would be my dream if one of those children had been so inspired by our sessions that he/she would become a natural dyer in the future.
I am certainly inspired to do loads more sessions for children.