Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Time to move on...

This blog is moving...

I'm using Wordpress now

...please follow me here:


Hope to see you there, thank you !

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Still Summer...

One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.
Henry David Thoreau

The river Aulne next to the house

Le Bleu nouveau est arrivé...

The very first blue (and green) shades
some pre-dyed, some dyed twice, some will be re-dyed and re-dyed again and again...
using Woad and Rhubarb

What happens when you soak some onion skins in rainwater ?

Dyer's Chamomille (Anthemis tinctoria)
Jardin des Simples - Bellegarde en Diois

I've just started a fermentation vat with these flower's

Dyer's chamomille or golden marguerite is a perennial plant with aromatic bright green-bluish foliage and yellow daisy-like flowers.
It has no culinary and only limited medicinal uses. However, the flowers produce excellent yellow and gold-orange.
It has been used as a dye for a very long time, it provides the buff in Turkish carpets but in Europe dyers preferred weld instead as yellow dye.
The leaves give a light green dye.

Lost and found:
Some wooden stamps I've bought years ago !
I'm going to try and print on fabric



Sunday, July 05, 2015


An’ the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
An’ the cotton is high...

summertime is harvest time

Ash leaves (Fraxinus excelsior) to brew "Frenette". 
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) as herbal medicine.
and Dyer's Chamomille (Anthemis tinctoria) to make a yellow dye

When fermented in sugar or honey water, Ash leaves produce an alcoholic drink called Frenette or cidre de frêne. Frenette is a traditional drink fallen into oblivion since the sixties. However, it is still made by a few grandmothers in the countryside. This drink, which taste a bit like apple cider was already brewed by our ancestors the Gauls. Each region had its own recipe. Slightly alcoholic (2 °) and slightly sweet, this drink is not fattening. It is drunk fresh as lemonade.

The Gauls were Celtic peoples inhabiting Gaul in the Iron Age and the Roman period. The Gaul region corresponds to what is now Belgium, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Western Germany and Northern Italy.

Sparkling wines from natural fermentation

"Frenette" , wild strawberries and raspberries, peaches, elder flowers

I'm testing all kinds of vegetable mordants for the moment,
to ensure a better result with plant dyes as I don't want to use any metallic mordants !
Here I'm testing leafs of Rheum palmatum commonly called Turkish rhubarb
It is said that the fumes are hazardous so I'm a bit careful.

It surely smells like the rhubarb jam my grandmother use to make

and here's the result

Blue faced Leicester top, Blue faced Leicester sock yarn, silk/mohair, 
alpaca/ silk and some eco wool from the Andes, 
dyed and mordanted with Turkish Rhubarb

waiting for the Woad vat to be ready...
to be dyed 

In the meantime I'm harvesting next year's blues

Isatis tinctoria seeds


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Midsummer in Brittany

Today it's Midsummer or Summer Solstice. The highlight of summer.

old Breton illustration of the "Feu de la St Jean"

On 24 June, "La nuit de la Saint Jean" as it is called here in France, isn't celebrated like it was in the old days. Except in some places like here in Brittany where it has remained a living tradition. And so it is that the Old cult of the Fire is still existent. Fire, for millennia was honoured as a source of universal life.

Old postcard, Tantad de St Jean du Doigt

In many Breton villages they still have the tradition of lighting a large bonfire around midsummer.
This fire is called "Tantad" in Breton. The firewood is collected one month in advance, it consists mainly of dried gorse (Ulex europaeus) which grows everywhere here in Brittany.

Picture taken a few years ago in St Jean du Doigt
just before lighting the fire

It used to go like this:
After the fire was lit, the villagers, all in festive attire, stand around the fire and began to perform all kinds of dancing and singing. Children were not allowed to participate and could only look at the fire through the windows of their houses, because it was mainly a celebration of adulthood, of love and fertility. When the fire had diminished, tough young men and brave young women jumped happily over the glowing embers. The older village women each took a piece of coal and threw it into the well to cleanse the water for the whole year to come. Towards the end, bystanders threw a small cobblestone in the cooling fire, this stone was called a "anaon" . And thus ended the party and everyone went to sleep. In the morning, the villagers went to see their "anaon" stone, because during the night the spirits came to turn over the stones of the people who would die in the following year! The cooled ash was then spread on the fields in order to promote the fertility of the soil.
Or at least that's how it used to be done. Now it is a popular festival linked to the still very strong Christian faith.

Tantad de St Jean du Doigt

Tantad de St Jean du Doigt

But "la fête de la St Jean" was not only about bonfires, it was also a good time to collect some medicinal herbs. The next day, the people who knew about these things, with bare feet, still groggy from the previous night and with a golden sickle in their hand went to pick the herbs. To ward off demons and to cure fevers. St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) of course, but also vervain (Verbena officinalis), the sacred plant of the Celts. It was picked while singing a mysterious song, a very old charm formula, called "Verven-Dieu" but nobody knows what it actually means anymore.


Happy Summer Solstice

Thanks for visiting


Friday, June 19, 2015

early summer harvests

Summer has finally started here in my little Breton home ! I'm still experimenting a lot with fermentation dyeing and right now I'm harvesting everything that could be useful.

Have a look...

The front garden, which is mainly a herb garden.
I work with a lot of herbs,
for medicine, beverages, incense, food
and of course dyes...

Broad-leaved Dock roots

or the art of harvesting willow bark

and apple tree bark

clockwise: barks from oak, apple tree, willow and plum tree

a few fibers waiting to be dyed

some fallen Eucalyptus leaves
water from the river, common sorrel, wood ash
sheep wool, alpaca and silk yarn, paper thread

Thanks for visiting


Monday, June 01, 2015

The first shade of summer

birch, berk, bouleau, björkar, betula...

bezv (brezhoneg)

alpaca-silk & Poll Dorset - fermentation dyeing

actually it's not summer at all
in fact it's quite cold here in Brittany
so fermentation dyeing is starting very, very slowly

more sooner or later


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The new colour season has started...

Different herbal dye vats are fermenting right now.
I've put them in my living room next to the wood burner because it's still chilly outside.

dandelion flowers, birch leaves, dock roots, eucalyptus leaves, woad flowers
all from my garden

I won't show pictures of the fermenting vats, instead some pictures of my place:

I can assure you that there are enough dandelions to share with the bees
picture is taken from my neighbor's meadow

Chinese rhubarb, which I sometimes use in the dyeing process

Woad flowers and forget-me-not's, such a lovely sight !
While the woad leaves are harvested the first year for the most divine blues, 
the flowers of the following year are great for a yellow dye 

I haven't tried to dye with Valerian yet, 
I will give it a try this summer
my cat, on the other hand, gets high from the roots

A view of the back yard with two oaks, 
every year a few dead branches give me some lichen 
In the back, the vegetable garden

a small herbal dye garden in the front yard, where motherplants grow:
a few woads, madder, dyer's chamomile, dyer's broom, pomegranate 
and seedlings of orange cosmos, marigold, pokeweed, St Johns wort, 
coreopsis, weld and others

a small pond with one of my favorites, the yellow iris which roots gives a blue-grey dye
I will do some fabric printing tests with the iron rich soil on the bottom of this pond

a little well hidden in the back yard
which I have named
the well of Urd


I'm going to be more of a dyer than a designer this year
I hope you still will follow me and my dye-experiments on this blog
Comments are always welcome
Thank you for visiting