Colour Memories

The last few weeks I worked on larger pieces, which are my favourite things to create. They tell the story of my life and love for the natural world. The colours from these designs were inspired by a recent trip to beautiful colourful rocks. I love to travel for inspiration, to keep my eyes wide open, and to explore my curiosity.

Visiting the ocher rocks, I made colour memories. I saw incredible red, pink and ocher rocks. It was marvelous walking through these colourful rocks over dusty paths and I felt so inspired by the sight of these colours. I came away from that trip full of ideas, wondering how I can even more blend my life into my work and create pieces that are a reflection of this beatiful earth.

Wassily Kandinsky says it so beautifully: ‘colour is a power which directly influences the soul’.

x Claire

chestnut-bw

Sweater Weather

For several days a blanket of clouds covered our little hamlet in the mountains . When the fog cleared up we wittnesed the changing of the colours of our forests in just a couple of days. What an amazing time of year this is, I truly enjoy wandering around in the woods this time of year. I love it here! With the days getting shorter, I enjoy sitting by the fire, drinking herbal tea and do some knitting. I am currently knitting on a cabled sweater design from the 80s, knitted with rustic wool from the Pyrenees.

It is hard not to be inspired by nature and the colours of Fall, and so the Soleil Quilt was born. The sun reminds me of the soft morning light and the changing of the seasons. I embroidered accents with heirloom threads from my grandmother’s embroidery collection.

Today I went into the forest to make photos of a wall hanging that was dyed with chestnuts. The calendula flowers are hand painted on antique French linen that was waiting for the perfect project. The process of making this wall hanging felt precious because I live in a forest of ancient chestnut trees. The day I was dyeing with the chestnut extracts, my studio smelled like the forest on a warm Fall day. It will be available in my shop soon!

I hope you enjoyed the photos I have taken during my walks and see the beauty in November.

x Claire

End of Summer

This Summer our garden has been bountiful, the weather has been very kind with both sun and rain, heat and cooler days. It is been a full summer of dips in cold rivers, fresh garden meals, jam making, walks in the woods and old friends. It has been a very pleasant season.

I do hope you enjoyed your summer, where ever you found yourself! What did you get up to?

I thought I would share a little bit about what I have been working on over the Summer. When I start a new idea or project, I try to keep it close to myself and what feels authentic to my simple life here in the mountains. It helps me to go forward in this magical world of natural dyeing and illustration and at the same time stay connected to my true self.

And so an idea for a small collection of dye plant illustrations was born. The inspiration for this small collection of wall hangings came from the love I have for dye plants. I selected a few of my favourite dye plants that were in my garden and also that I like to dye with. Making sketches and looking at the plants in a different way was a very joyful process. You can find the collection in my shop, in case you are interested in taking a look!

We live in a hamlet where two mountains come together and where a forest of chestnut trees is on our doorstep. I love to get up early and go into the forest, looking at ancient chestnut trees, listening to the nature sounds. Recently I got my hands on some chestnut extracts, so I immediately started making sketches for a new design. I wanted to feature the natural shades of chestnuts because of where I live, and combine them with other soft natural colours like cutch and acacia. The subtle differences between these extracts are amazing, and it all came together so beautifully. The center panel with the botanical illustrations and the quilt inspired border tells a personal story about the quilts my mum used to make for us. The chestnut wall hanging is available in my litte shop.

Another exciting piece that I have been working on is the soleil wall hanging. It all started with a little sketch I made of a sun. Over time it evolved into this nature inspired wall hanging with my beloved flowers and birds. Intuitively I wanted to naturally dye parts of the wall hanging in yellow shades because of the sun, so slowly I imagined soft and blue shades in my minds eye. When every part was dyed with weld, nettles & indigo and pieced together, I started stitching accents here and there with embroidery threads that I inherited from my grandmother. It brings back memories of her, sitting in her living room as a little girl, where she thaught me how to embroider for the first time.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and look at the photos of my latest work.  When I took a walk in the woods this morning, a cool wind was sweeping through the mountains. Autumn is in the air!

x Claire

Golden Colour

Our small world in the mountains is slowly changing. When early Spring was still cold and grey, nature is finally waking up. We see wild flowers in full bloom everywhere on our walks, the mountains are finally green again. The air is softly scented with gorse. I love this time of year!

There is a field in the middle of the forest not so far from our home. It is so beautiful right now because it is overgrown with wild flowers. There are so many colours and different flowers, which is so inspiring. I like to go there and bring my sketch book to draw up some sketches and ideas. Here and there I pick some flowers for my natural dye diary.

A while ago I experimented dyeing with onion skins, and I couldn’t be more happy with the deep golden colours. I thought I’d share my natural dye adventure with you.

The skins are high in tannin and because of this, the colour will bind to the fabric without the addition of any other ingredients or a mordant. Nothing so simple as to collect the onion skins at the bottom of the crate when you are on your local farmers market. You can collect yellow onion skins for rich yellow shades or red onion skins for shades of brown. You can mix them to expand your colour palette.

For this experiment I used equal parts onion skins to WOF. But you can also use half the weight of fibre to onion skins.

Add the onion skins to your dye pot and cover with enough water and leave overnight. The next day, bring slowly to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for about 30 minutes to one hour. During the simmering the water will give a red colour. Then turn of the heat and leave it to cool. Strain out the onion skins by using a sieve and let the dye bath sit for one night.

Carefully place your prewashed and soaked linen into the dye pot and simmer gently for at least 30 minutes. To modify the colours you can add iron to the dye bath to have beautiful shades of green and grey mauve.

When you are happy with the colour you can remove the linen from the pot and rinse it with a pH-neutral soap and hang to dry.

Happy dyeing!

x Claire

Nuit Étoilée

Our little hamlet has finally transitioned into a spring. The ancient chestnut forests higher up in the mountains are still in winter sleep, but the fruit trees in our garden are in full bloom. 

When I started dyeing with indigo I just fell in love with the beautiful depth of blue shades that came out of the vat. I  couldn’t believe how rich these shades were. In the back of my mind I had this idea to work with this natural dye a bit more from an illustrative persepective.

Holding these indigo dyed pieces of fabric always remind me of the night sky. We live secluded in the mountains which gives us the opportunity to have a clear view of the milky way. It is hard to not look up at night when I walk to dog before I go to sleep.  

Normally when I start something new, I make sketches or browse through my sketch book for ideas. From there I start with the illustrations and turn them into a actual project. Painting the illustrations on the fabric, choosing the colours and finally the dye bath.

This time I let the beautiful shades of indigo lead me the way. I have always been very interested in the ancient science of the universe. I have this wonderful book with a eclectic collection of medieval illustrations of the universe, the stars, the sun. It describes the believes people had back then, when they looked up at the night sky, reading the stars, looking at the phases of the moon. I just felt I had to do something with this theme. And so this new natural dye adventure began…

A sweet poem by Rossetti before I say goodbye to you.

the sunrise wakes the lark to sing
the moonrise wakes the nightingale
come, darkness, moonrise, everything
that is so silent, sweet and pale:
come, so ye wake the nightingale

Medicinal Plants Quilt

The winter months have come and gone. I can’t believe that we are welcoming spring equinox soon. It is a beautiful day here in the South of France. Still cold but the sun shines all day and to be given these extra hours in the day is so welcome after a long winter. I have been taken advantage of the longer days and had many beautiful walks. 

I wanted to share a little bit with you about the medicinal plants quilt I made this winter. The idea of this quilt design was born when the world around our little hamlet was still very cold with moody skies. I was inspired by a little medicinal plants book that I once found in a second hand book shop.  I selected medicinal plants that were either familiar to my surroundings or that I felt intuitively connected to. And so I started this journey with drawing up these medicinal plants, dreaming about the colours that would compliment the illustrations. I felt that I wanted to use different shades of earth tones in one plant, and I couldn’t be more happy how these botanical illustrations came out of the dye pot.

Wishing you a lovely spring.

x Claire

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