Friday, 30 August 2013

Taming the Jungle!

I had just stopped for a breather and noticed this butterfly on the handle of the fork.   It was obliging enough to stay there while I fetched the camera.   I think it's a Tortoiseshell though the colours in my photo are somewhat faded.

Couldn't resist this bumble bee on the verbena - they have obligingly moved out of our compost bin so we can use it again.

We bought this monarda for the bees so I hope they appreciate it.

In the nursery where we bought this cone flower it had a gorgeous Red Admiral butterfly on it.   I am waiting for one to visit it now it's in our garden.

I am abandoning the garden and my husband this weekend and going off this afternoon to enjoy myself on a course with Frances Pickering.  It's residential so I'll be waited on hand and foot and be able to concentrate on my favourite pastime of making fabric books.   I hope there'll be time to take some photos.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Recipe for a weird meal?

No - it's a bit of experimental eco-friendly dyeing.   One of our group members recently attended a workshop given by the Australian textile artist India Flint who dyes all her own fabrics using plant material and no chemicals at all.   She gathers her leaves, flowers, bark, lichen, etc. and places them between layers of fabric which are then tightly rolled and bound so that the fabric is in very close contact with the plant material.   The bundles are then boiled for about 1 hour - I think that is right, anyway it's what I did.   White vinegar gives darker colours so I added just a dash to my boiling water.   I used bits of old sheeting, and oddments of silk cut to approximately A4 size.

Silk and wool give better results, cotton is not so good.  I tried some ripe honeysuckle berries which produced these yellow blobs.  They are brighter in reality and look better than this photo which looks like a very dirty tablecloth!

Colours from previous layers seep through onto the next one.  Here I think are very faint marks from red rose petals.  I wonder if I had used a newly opened flower instead of one which was beginning to fade I would have got a stronger result.  Maybe I didn't roll or bind them tightly enough.

Spent day lily flowers give quite a strong colour.   Strange that they come out purple when the flower was a rich deep red.

I love the leaf shapes I have here from my heuchera leaves.   They were from one of the dark purple leaved varieties.   I was surprised and a bit disappointed not to have achieved any shades of green even from comfrey leaves, and also surprised that the lichen covered twigs and bits of lichen I pulled off a tree trunk gave no result at all.

However, I am pleased to have had even mild success from such sketchy instructions and must look into this in greater detail.   Obviously a knowledge of which plants to use will be essential rather than just going round the garden and hoping for the best.   Possibly picking leaves at certain times of the year might make a difference - I'd better buy India Flint's book!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Advice for costume makers!

My daughter, who can be seen in medieval costume on my previous post, came to borrow my floor to cut out another outfit.    This is her unorthodox way of finding out if she has sufficient fabric for the garment she has in mind!  Half the time she doesn't even have a pattern.  I do everything by the book plus a pattern and don't always get a good result, and the infuriating thing is that just about everything she makes in her free and easy fashion turns out really well.  It's enough to make you sick!

Here she is taking helpful advice from her trusty technical adviser.   If Poppy sits or lies on the fabric, then the garment or other item will be a success.    Years ago our cat was my adviser and if he slept on a piece of  my textile coursework I could usually rely on getting a distinction for it.

I am so pleased that the weather seems to be cooler and more comfortable.   I might even get some gardening done tomorrow.  I found the humidity of the past two days very hard going.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Hello Again!

Last weekend I went to the Berkeley Skirmish held in the grounds just below Berkeley Castle here in Gloucestershire.   It's a lovely setting and the occasion celebrates the Battle of Flodden.   Many people,  my daughter and son-in-law among then, take part camping and living medieval style for the weekend, cooking on an open fire, using wooden plates, bowls and spoons, and generally trying to be as authentic as possible.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of these two gentlemen in their colourful costumes.

There were dozens of stalls manned by craftsmen selling their work.  I loved this handsome wooden bench outside one of the woodworker's stall, and felt sorry for the chap in the suit of armour as the day was very hot.

This young lady is my daughter - she was on the battlefield later in the day as a water wench taking water to the 'injured'.
There were plenty of attractions to keep us entertained before the battle itself, one of which was a display by these beautiful birds of prey.   Poor barn owl wanted to sleep the afternoon away - isn't it beautiful?

It was very hot and very windy and I don't think they were at all keen to provide us with entertainment.

I loved this part of the programme.   A couple of dozen youngsters were lined up and armed with rubber 'swords'. 
Their opponents were similarly armed.

When the command was given they were very eager to go into battle .... 
........ and showed no mercy!

We saw knights on horseback jousting.

And this was the King's camp.

As the afternoon wore on, various costumed warriors and characters began to assemble.

Then onto the battlefield they came.

There were some very loud bangs and lots of smoke from the cannon.
 I imagine it must have been unbearably hot under all that padding and armour.
The archers getting ready to do their bit - my son-in-law is in there somewhere.

A few dead bodies for a little drama.........

and then off they all trooped for a nice cold beer!

It was a wonderful day but my photos have not really done it justice.   I don't know where the time has gone since then but I have been very busy trying to catch up on all I want to do and make up for the lost days when it was too hot to do anything at all.

I must try not to leave it another fortnight before posting again.