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  • Natural dyes

    So this post has been incredibley belated as I've been meaning to gather the images all into the same place in order to post this..

    So for a project I'm trying to develop I'm looking into natural landscapes within landscapes.. for example the sedimentary layers of mineral rocks which create a landscape (I don't have any photos on this laptop to load onto this post yet, sorry)

    (Resisting the temptation to say so for the third time..) I looked at how to develop natural pigments in order to paint my natural landscapes.. a much prettier task than first anticipated, and a bit smelly too. Bork. Literally -sigh-

    If you have a weak stomach I wouldnt recommend this task for yourself as some things have a really odd smell, not necessarily bad, but they give you a headache after a while of working with them. Despite this, the natural pigments you can create from this process are incredible, and really beautiful textures also. I blended different materials, adding water, sometimes flour, plaster, arabic gum, gesso, and maybe a few more? Not all at once of course. 
    The materials I used were mainly vegetables; onions (unsuccessful unless you boil), Red Cabbage amazing, carrots, paprika, chilli powder, spirilina powder, Beetroot, Blueberries, Raspberries, cumin, oregano. Maybe more but I may have forgotten.. 

    If any, red cabbage was my favourite on paper, blended and strained it creates a brilliantly vibrant purple which when left to dry turns a gorgeous shade of blue (and also your hands if you're not careful) Pictures are shown below. 

    I also tried to create wax. The natural pigments were great and have almost fully kept their colour up till now however for my own personal development I wanted them thicker; which I'm still working on now. Unfortunately the colours don't mix very well and the only slight success I had was with white Gesso but this obviously lightens the pigment dramatically. I also disliked the notion of losing my purpose of the natural pigment by mixing it with a man made substance. However getting over this in a hope to find a solution I tried creating natural wax dyes. With a little research, small bags of powder such as chilli and spirulina, work really well when brewed in a pot of melting wax for your desired time. However they do smell theres no denying this. If you enjoy the concoction of mixed spices for a couple days then you're definitely onto a winner.. Not my cup of tea. 

    A minor success to this development was I now have some gorgeous little wax bags which are beautiful colours and they make gorgeous spreads in sketchbooks. My negative with this is that they are very difficult to manoeuvre especially if you wanted to work with them in the way that I did; on canvas as a substitute for a paint formula. 

    I will post my sketchbook pages with more of the wax experimentation when I have better photos. 

    Beetroot and red cabbage colour patches.

    Melting wax and dying with spices. 

    The pictures below are all natural dyes onto a heavy cartridge with different mediums added or left on their own. I think the small swatches photographs are a success in themselves in terms of visual qualities. 


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    Meet The Author

    -Sophie Gowling-

    -Art&Design student in the North East of England-

    -Aspiring fine artist & lover of creativity-

    -Contact me at sophiegowling@hotmail.co.uk -