Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stitching and Drawing

My natural dye research is deeply based in the extraordinary power of plants.  In my research I have noted there is a clear link between plants historically used medicinally and those cultivated and gathered for dyes. Many plants that can be used for dyes can also be used as herbs, flavourings and natural treatments. Inspired by the beauty of these plants, I decided to use them as the imagery for my print and stitch based work for my MA project.  Some of the sources I am consulting are the online archives of various university collections of botanical herbaria - collections of preserved plant specimens, and the several excellent books of Roger Phillips and Martin Rix.

I've used these photographic sources as the basis for both embroidered and drawn imagery that will be later translated into prints and stitched embellishment for my final collection of garments I plan on creating for my MA exhibition. I like to stitch freehand, using a variety of mostly knitting yarns in different fibres, textures and weights, stitching first white on white, and afterward dyeing them.  Cellulose (cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo) and protein (wool, silk, milk) fibres take the colour from the dyes differently, creating a lovely monochrome palette.

As well as drawings of from plants, I have been making drawings based on my embroideries for development into screenprint imagery. I feel the drawing take on a looser quality this way.  

BELOW: scattered seeds embroidery of french knots, chain and cross stitches on 100% hemp, then dyed with madder, accompanied by the drawing based on the stitching.   

ABOVE: Queen Anne's Lace seedhead embroidery with wool on linen, and floating seeds embroidery with silk and linen on wool dyed in goldenrod, with accompanying drawings.  

BELOW: Leaves and asters embroidery with various yarns on cotton gauze, dyed in marigold with iron.

BELOW: drawings of weld, goldenrod and foxglove with india ink on vellum, ready to be exposed to screen, and underneath, the resulting print with iron paste on linen.  Next step, sample printing in colour!


  1. can't wait to see your collection miss thea! hope you've been well :)

  2. OK, I'm starting to get worried that they are going to want to hire you and we'll never get you back to Canada! Love all the colours and designs, Thea. Beautiful! Thanks for letting us see where you're at. You're going to knock their socks off!

  3. this looks so lovely! did you use madder to get those vibrant orange hues too?

  4. some of the oranges are marigold, one is over dyed with madder (the darker one).