We are collecting flowers, berries, hedgerow materials and thinking how we can keep our community learning going for another year.

I’ve cooked some elderberries and sieved them to preserve the amazing colour produced. It’s now safely in the freezer, alongside the damson juices that I collected earlier in the year.

I am yet to equip my studio with stainless steel pans. I need these to get an even colour when I next dye some romney wool.

I’m also wanting to purchase or make a peg loom to trial some wool weaving.

My search for purchasing some willow continues but thankfully, today, it has been possible to re engage with weaving. I remembered to take sharp secateurs on a recent dog walk and found myself dragging a supply of long bramble runners along the footpath. I stopped to have a catch up with the local park warden when I suddenly thought I needed to explain WHY I was carrying a bundle of brambles ha! The things we do for art!

This is the final outcome of weaving bramble runners. I love the colours and although this is quite tricky to make. It really is worth the effort.

This is a technique that can be used ‘ in the field’ , you would need to be carrying sturdy gardening gloves and sharp secateurs, but all possible.

The thorns on bramble are incredibly tough, to remove them I pulled the runners through holes drilled into pieces of scrap hardboard. This works really well, without damaging the ‘weavers’

For the handle, I’ve used a spare willow rod. This had been previously soaked and so flexible enough to make a curve across the width of the basket.

So this is a basket for collecting blackberries, made from the blackberry hedgerow itself. It feels important to have a purpose for any basket making. It brings a sense of function and also helps to think about ancestors who might have made something similar in times gone by.

Other material that is catching my eye at the moment, is the stunning fields of long grass that are glowing away in the late autumn sunshine.

I’ve collected 2 lots already and have them stashed away in the chicken house. It is dry in there and out of reach to the hens.

Planning to make more of this sort of thing….?


Autumn bounty

We are planning on working with an expert in natural dyes and she is going to share her passion for Madder. She is a chemist by training and holds a PhD, she is now researching the qualities of a number of plants traditionally used for dyeing.

I’m hoping she will help us identify this gorgeous plant, is it weld? Or woad?

If you are in Lydd and want to have a look at what we’ve been achieving over the last year. one of our parents and carers group has very kindly put together a display with laminated information sheets. Nice work Melanie!

Note to self, not to use aluminium pots

For dyeing, I wish I had realised this earlier, but learning from my mistakes.

I’ve now got to source some stainless steel pans for future use

back to the hedgerows for berries , these are gorgeous elderberries and are great fun to pick, they are very abundant this year and I think it’s ok to share with the birds

Colour from the fields, hedgerows and coastline

We are working hard on preparation for collecting local stories and life experiences from people on the marsh. We are going to be intertwining recordings of people from the past with those from people living locally.

In order to do this well

we are organising training from The Oral History Society based at The British Library

funded by






Thursday 27TH SEPTEMBER 2018 10-4PM

The course will give you a full understanding of ;

• how oral history can help us keep information about the past

• why we need to preserve people’s lives and experiences

• how oral history gives us exciting ways to learn about the past through other people’s stories

• how to use recording equipment

• how to make sure that the correct protocol is followed

• how to create important archives that can be used by others

Interested?only 6 places remain ….so hurry …email artinromneymarsh@gmail.com to book your place

SaLT trail training

this is the wonderful golden rod, although research has enlightened me to the fact that the tall and common plant is in fact a Canadian species. The indigenous version is much smaller and therefore less visible.

As the name suggests, this plant provides a sumptuous golden dye ….

very pleased to say I have back up plants in the garden…

First time for trying damsons in the dye pot, lovely subtle colours emerging….

The search for materials to make baskets with continues….I hadn’t realised that willow was so seasonal or is it just that demand has totally outstripped supplies? It is time to look at the hedgerow again, so collected a few bramble runners….obviously the down side to this material are the phenomenal thorns , so gardening gloves , secateurs and a strong foraging bag are essential. I’ve also discovered another use for my willow templates. I’ve added a few smaller holes to accommodate both medium and small runners, these go through the holes twice and the process takes off thorns and buds without damaging the ‘weavers’

I’m pleased with the result, and now waiting to see how the material dries.

This is all bramble and could be made , in theory, out in the field…..the base wouldn’t hold blackberries and needs to be lined with leaves for it to be useful.

I really like the colours of the weavers , I’m now seeing brambles in a whole new light.

Another inspiration this week has been a trip to Great Dixter, amazing colours ….

Foraging, colours and autumnal light

There is an abundance of blackberries, damsons and elderberries so feeling under pressure to a) get them in the freezer or b) boil them up ready for wool soaking

Blackberries smell so delicious it has been hard to keep them going into the basket, their colour is amazing and vibrant

Asking myself, why would I expect the colour pink / red from this jewel of a hedgerow fruit?

The second boiling pot contained bronze fennel which had an unpromising hue to it however…..

this is the result, we’ve had a change in colour with these dyes after the drying process so need to find out how to fully fix the colours…

Also now on the search for a second hand Ashford spinning wheel, been recommended to contact the local spinners society……or eBay

Merry berry picking & learning how to dye

We have been working with parents and carers at Lydd church for one whole year now. We decided to have a look at our best work and the techniques used

Caroline has discovered the joys of working with both black and white romney wool to make bears using needle point. Melanie has made a flexible and dramatic pink and white coil pot, we all decided this reminded us of Middle East designs. Catherine has developed her coiling technique to create a geometric design, we thought it could have practical use as a place mat, or as a decorative wall mount

due to the lack of willow supplies, a small blackberry basket made from clematis was the solution. We thought this an attractive method and want to see how the material lasts. Although we set ourselves the task of making something that we could collect berries in and this fits the bill. Other materials to explore include bramble runners, common reed and field grasses.

We are planning to make us of summer supplies for dyeing, we’ve already collected bronze fennel, currently waiting for golden rod, elderberry, damsons and blackberries

Reviewing the wool, willow and coiling successes

Our original hut which has been located for over a year, at St George’s church Ivychurch, is now being restored. It has been put into a farm barn and is currently being prepped ready for painting.

We had some expert advice from Kenton, a local joiner. He has identified the main floorboards as elm. Apparently, this was the preferred material for wooden dwellings, as the tree would grow quickly and at scale. Unfortunately, elm has been dessimated by Dutch elm disease in Kent. I’ve heard that elms in Brighton have survived and now has an impressive collection of trees that have been carefully monitored and protected since 1970’s.

We’ve removed two front wheels and commissioned a local blacksmith to redesign smaller and matching wheels. He is also going to help us to repair the stub axles which are in need of TLC

Looker’s hut, horse drawn & sanded down

Our recent project with @screensouth which we called The Owlers, involved a great deal of planning and preparation.

Successful team work paid off and an animation of our needle felted owls, coil wool nests was produced with the help of a technical team

It was a strange combination, high tech cameras and computers in the medieval surroundings of All Saints church.

While we were filming a local historian brought a group in to show them the wall in the church that has recently been identified as Anglo-Romano and dates back to the 5th century. It is thought to have been part of a Roman basilica……amazing!

High tech or low tech that is the question…

Excited to announce our new website we welcome feedback. We are also delighted to announce the winner of our search for a Marsh Active Rural Community Hub design in partnership with @UCACanterbury

Congratulations to Kale Bailey

His design became known as the ‘inside out’ greenhouse. We are now looking to gain planning permission and funding to build this amazing design as a temporary #community #hub

New website

So nice to be invited to help maintain this withy bed. Luckily, I remembered to take my scythe. The amount of growth since March was astounding. Both willow and weeds had really responded to the pruning and weeding we had done previously. I discovered that different varieties of willow grow at different rates, so we made sure the less hardy variety were well tended. Looking forward to seeing results when we go to crop in December.

Lovely sunlight on the willow as I work in the shade, the heat is drying out the material so fast….really having to work quickly!

Our group enjoyed making some bird feeders from the leftover willow from the school’s workshops

These are being donated to the church sale

Hambrook #marshes #Canterbury #withybeds