Hill End seems like ages ago, but the thoughts and work that have emerged from this month away, are in full swing. As I weave to start my response, I am starting to look at some more dyeing for other projects.
The following I wrote nearly a month ago, but it’s worth sharing about some of the process of creating dye stuffs that reflect the environment.
“Spring is in full swing and it’s heating up. As I run out or wool to dye, I am switching to gathering pigment bearers for later use, and contact printing for later work.
Probably the most surprising dyestuff has been mistletoe. In my previous experience with this parasitic plant, I haven’t had much colour, except as a resist to iron in contact printing.
However, where it shines, is as a dye for yarn, and surprisingly cellulose fabric, such as cotton.
The secret with mistletoe is not the fleshy fresh leaves on the plant itself, but the desiccated remains at the base of the tree that hosts it.
Collecting this dye stuff is slow going. As it dries, it becomes as brittle as fine toffee and it dries where it drapes, in curves and curls. So it has to be lifted out of the litter and threaded through the grass. Otherwise it shatters into crumbs.
Curiously, the more colourful leaves yield less depth of colour, than the completely dried dark brown leaves that give an ochre that reflects the landscape with spooky accuracy.
I’ve been collecting it all over Hill End (and I have plenty at home). On Bald Hill, on the road to Merlins Lookout, on the road to the Cornish Roasting Pits, and behind Murrays Cottage. Turns out the mother lode of Mistletoe is in Tambaroora, but so is the mother lode of meat ants. This brings me back to Spring- the ants, snakes, and flies are starting to wake up and the wind is starting to interfere with my gas ring cooking.
The time has nearly come to gather up all this beautiful colour I have found, and the start of the next stage of this creative journey.”
At this point I would like to acknowledge the work done by India Flint, and her research which has helped me to find and use these plants with thoughtfulness.
This work is also as a result as a residency at Hill End which is administered by the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, and NSW Parks and Wildlife.