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

these are the results from mordanting and then saturating in water and pomegranates. As you can see the colour is a rich gold. We want to use this for wool spinning and wool coiling…results to follow

another batch , trying out nettles as a dye, it smells delicious but colour is pale. Evidently, to get green you need mountains of nettles. I added in a few onion skins and realised what a great dye source brown onions really are…

our group is continuing to meet in the church in Lydd. We are so lucky to be surrounded by so much amazing and inspirational art. It reminds us to think about people in the past , using the same processes we are now also enjoying and exploring.

Summer is here…wool ideas are gathering and we are beginning to glean other resources

it was a lovely opportunity to have a class of 34 primary schoolchildren finding out about willow. We talked about how people in the past might have used willow fish…as a toy for children to play with, as a good luck for fisherman in the town, as a decoration

we also used some new words to describe the plant in relation to #RomneyMarsh #abundant #successful #fastgrowing #hedgerow

These were the final results – thanks go to everyone involved in organising the session at #Lydd #school

Child’s play, willow fish

This week I’ve been busy building my skills bas by exploring the many qualities of materials that we have available in the UK

My first attempt at weaving rush, prepared and provided by the expert tutor , we met on the allotment and experienced scorching weather. Both the materials and makers had to be mist sprayed for best results….

Two different methods produced tip top results and has inspired me to think how, where and when it might be possible to find a supplier or grow this stuff locally. It’s so lovely to work with….

Rush and it’s many qualities