Books,  Recipes

6th August Recipe #3


When I joined the reenactment society I was asked to give myself a character and learn everything I could that was pertinent. I’m pretty rubbish at acting so chose to be an embroideress – someone who could hide away and keep her head down even if talking! Plus I needed to learn about the profession rather than a person.


Our local college at that time decided to run a 1 year City and Guilds Art and Design – Embroidery course, so I thought it might be useful and signed up. It didn’t really teach me embroidery – in terms of I wasn’t learning all the history and stitches – but it did help my fear of art and showed that you don’t have to be “artistic” to produce something! (I was told by my Art teacher at school to drop the subject as soon as I was able and not think of trying to do it again!)

Also on the course was a textile artist called Helen Melvin, she was wanting to extend her embroidery abilities to produce felted landscape art works. (Which she now does and I am the proud owner of one too!) Helen and I became good friends and as she only works with natural dyes she encouraged me to learn about them so I could produce the embroidery silks I needed.

You could blame it all on her really!!!

It seems appropriate then that the next four recipes come from Helen’s book The colours of the Earth (My copy of the book is Edition 2 from 2005)

Helen Melvin's book

The first colour from the madder page is for coral shades. wash the madder then soak for 24 hours. heat to hand hot and strain off the chips and add the fibres to the liquid.

I am sticking to the same fibres for all these early recipes as it makes life simpler – I know the mordant works and I get a clear colour, so it gives me a fair comparison.

So what do you think about these colours?

All looking similar so far – or?

for Helen’s website please look here

The book can be found here – It’s lovely! Helen publishes several books, all of which have handpainted covers. She started producing natural dye inks in 2009 and was the first person I knew of to produce both Saxon Blue and inks from natural dyes commercially.

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