Back in the Saddle


It was lovely to have some time away at the end of 2015 and into the new year. We spent time on the Mid North Coast and also in rural Victoria. I was able to photograph some new and interesting things to paint and visit some spectacular scenery.

Vista from the Bago Bluff looking towards the Hastings river.

As they fell.

As they fell.

The 2016 Canberra show

I entered the Canberra Show again this year and won the Botanical section, I also sold two paintings!

It is sad to say but in my observation I think the days of the old style agricultural shows are numbered. It seems to be less about the display of the best quality produce, livestock, Art and crafts and more about the overpriced rides and show bags full of lollies and plastic. I do hope I'm wrong though!


Art in the Garden with Friends



The 9th annual exhibition of the Australian National Botanical Gardens, Friends of the ANBG Botanic Art Group opens this Friday 18th March at 6pm and runs until the 17th April.

There is a stunning diversity of work on display and is well worth a visit.

The creation of new work for the Friends of the Botanic gardens 9th annual exhibition.

Part time work

I have taken a part time job in an old friends Framing and Fine Art supplies store.  I am enjoying being part of the workforce again and the nature of the hands on work.

The work is another way to apply many of my skills. An eye for colour and design is useful in choosing matting, frames and getting the proportions just right to show work off to it's best advantage.

Testing samples of new papers for work.

Testing samples of new papers for work.

I get to do fun things like test new paints and papers to see if they are worth stocking.

Double double, toil and trouble.....

Further exploration of natural dyestuffs.

My son got home from school today and said "What ya been doin today Mum?"

" More Dyeing" I replied

" Really!?" He said, " Surely you've run out of white wool!!"

" Yes" I replied "That's why I went to the shop and brought some more" :-)

Cootamundra and Silver Wattle with Alum.


This time round my wattle leaves were a little dried out by the time I went to use them, I am not sure but I think the results were better with freshly harvested leaves.

For these two samples I used Cootamundra Wattle and Silver Wattle.

Wattle leaves simmered for about 30 mins

  • With Alum the wattle leaves give more golden yellow tones.

So from my experiments with wattle I have got yellows when mordanted with Alum, a range of greens when mordanted with copper and darker greens through to browns when iron is added.



Beetroot- The beets and the leaves and storks.


Beets chopped and simmered for about 20 mins

  • with alum- Orange
  • with alum & vinegar- Deep Burgundy red

  Both samples soaked in dyestuff overnight.

Leaves and storks, simmered for about 20 mins

  • with alum- Yellow
  • with alum and vinegar - Pinkish orange

Both samples soaked in dyestuff overnight.

I was pleasantly surprised by the range of colours I obtained from the beetroot. I have read varying reports on it's colourfastness, so we'll have to wait and see.





Cochineal as I have discovered is an awesome dyestuff! Easy to use and great results. It is made from insects that live on a particular type of cactus somewhere in South America. I wish we had a local bug with these spectacular properties!

  • Mordant Alum, soda ash and 1 tspn cream of tartar- peachy pink
  • Mordant Alum- Orangey red
  • Mordant Alum, vinegar added to dybath - Bright red
  • Mordant Alum, iron added to dyebath- Deep red




I have used Henna to dye my hair before,  but never for yarn. It produces vary earthy colours. ( The photo does not quite capture the colours.)

  • Mordant Alum- Earthy Orange.
  • Mordant Alum, iron added to dyebath- Olive green.

I think I will do some further testing with the Henna later, try adding cream of tartar and perhaps see how it reacts to copper.




Frozen Dyestuff!

Frozen Dyestuff!



My son thought he'd do some of his own natural dyeing, so he colected up some leaves and put them in a pot of water. When I came outside to start work today it was frozen solid in the pot!


Indigo/ Indigo Australis

Indigo dyed yarns.

Many moons ago I watched some of my fellow Textiles students produce work using an indigo dye vat. I always loved indigo blue but the process was a bit of a mystery because it is quite different to other dyeing processes.

Indigo powder is a plant extract and you need to prepare the dyebath carefully to get results. It is quite a magical process, you pull out yellowish green yarn from the vat and as it oxidises it turns blue before your eyes.

The yarns pictured were dipped from once to six times to produce light through to dark shades.

I have also discovered that we have a native indigo, Indigofera australis that will produce the trademark indigo blue colour. It is native to my area and in fact grows on Mt Majura. I am growing some of my own in the garden and will be able to test it out in the future.

I feel like I am not far off achieving my naturally dyed rainbow of yarns, I think it is something you could experiment with forever and still be making new discoveries. Some of the things I've tried I may not use again because the results aren't as good, as colourfast or I can get similar or better reults from another material. I like the idea of using materials that I've grown or that are sourced from around me, it kind of adds to the environmentally friendly aspect of natural dyeing. I find it quite rewarding to produce gorgeous colours from natural materials without all the nasty chemicals.