When I was preparing to teach my 6 day dye class at Kenderdine Campus at Emma Lake in 2011 I pulled my resource books for natural dyes and ordered several recent publications. India Flint’s book was always listed as a new favorite, no matter which on-line bookseller I checked out – much to my dismay – the book was never in stock.
While judging and teaching in Winnipeg I came across an actual copy, but with my luggage teetering near the overweight limit I opted against purchasing. It was difficult not to alter my decision as the book’s images and comprehensive information was on my mind constantly. I ordered a copy in early May and have not put it down since it arrived in my post office box.
In the early 90’s I was “hooked” on natural dyeing, working my way through 200 different dye stuffs during the summer of 1992 to record my findings for the Master Spinner Program at Olds College, AB. I was the amusement of the family: Instead of helping to pitch the tent while camping in Montana I was on my hands and knees picking Knapweed for the dye pot that was going on the fire before I could think about starting dinner. No spice in my cupboard, no plant, mushroom, weed, and berry was immune to my eagle eye… The mail man wasn’t impressed with the smells that wafted from my kitchen and more than once commented “I hope this is not dinner you are cooking!”
This passion for natural dyes diminished somewhat when I discovered Procion dyes, Indigo and quilting. India flint has rekindled my interest in natural dyeing with her innovative approach to incorporating everyday dye stuff to achieve unique and complex results on various fabrics, threads and fleece. The inside jacket flap sums it up so eloquently: India explores the fascinating and infinitely variable world of plant color using a wide variety of techniques and recipes… She uses renewable resources and shows how to do the least possible harm to the dyer, the end user of the object, and the environment.
My new favorite natural dye “bible” is made up of eight distinct parts, covering topics from identifying to collecting the plants, setting up the workspace with equipment, the preparation, processing and application of the dyes. India devotes an entire chapter to “Eucalyptus and beyond”. Part Six covers special effects from cold and hot bundled eco-prints, Hapa-zome, dyeing wool sliver and yarn to the application of resists, solar dyeing and incorporating mud and… yes, you are reading it correctly: cow patties!
Part Seven rounds out the in-depth information with considering water origin and quality, time management, the care for cloth as well as the disposal of dye waste.
A well-researched reference chapter completes the book. I would love to share some of the inspiring images that set this book apart from any other natural dye resource I own or have previously laid my hands on – but you will just have to check a copy out of the library or even order your own!
I am ready to embrace natural dyes with a whole new appreciation and can’t wait to carve out a block of time to put some of the recipes to the test. Now, let me ask you my favorite question: Where can I buy some more time? I need about 4 more hours a day. Let me know where I can find and purchase some…