1 March 2013. Today, here at Anna Champeney Textile Studio in north Spain, we´re dyeing with sprays of flowering gorse for a special weave project. Strong gardening gloves are required to cut this spiky plant. Gorse (Ulex europaeus), o toxo in Galician Spanish, is an interesting plant to use.
Harvest the plant when it´s in flower and dry it for later use if you like, as long as it´s in a dry place where the plant won´t get mouldy.
The yellow obtained with alum fixer isn´t especially bright, according to my experience as a dyer. But other mordants can produce more saturated colours. I use gorse, chiefly, in combination with indigo, to obtain a lovely cool mint green.
Gorse is extremely plentiful in the mountains where I live in north Spain. It was used as a form of green manure by my neighbours in the past and was even sown especially for this reason, believe it or not. Now it is a weed, slowly encroaching on abandoned fields.
For me it is a wonderful, sustainable source of dye which is perfectly recyclable: after extracting the dye with boiling water I simply put it on the compost heap. What could be simpler or more environmentally-friendly way to create beautiful textiles.
You can find hand-woven textiles with natural dyes on sale at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil. More information about Anna´s texile work can be found on her design blog and you can keep in touch with her via her facebook page.
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