Fun With Colour

I am once again late to the party. Everyone else has been having great fun with India Flint's ecologically conscious dyeing techniques, but my library has yet to get Eco Colour on the shelves. I was in a Nanaimo bookstore yesterday and when I saw a copy I snapped it up, making excuses all the way to the cashier..."Well, I haven't bought a book in over a year."... "I can share it with others on the island."..."I deserve a treat."

I had a couple of hours to kill waiting for the ferry on the way home, so ensconced myself in the corner booth of the pub, with a mug of Merridale cider and my shiny new copy of Eco Colour. A treat indeed! It was so refreshing to encounter new information, rather than the same old formulas that have been retread every couple of years since the '70's. (And, yes, I did recently get Jenny Dean's Wild Colour from the library.)

I really appreciated India's lively, opinionated writing style and the emphasis on how local plant materials and water vary so much that colour is not predictable. For me, that is the real downside of most books on nature dyeing - they say: "X plant and Y mordant give Z colour", as if that will work every time and for every person. I think the disappointing results such recipes achieve are why many of us left the onion skins and goldenrod behind for the more predictable results of synthetic dyes. India gives an approach rather than a book of recipes, whereby one becomes their own authority through experimentation.

The book is, of course, gorgeously designed and chockful of delectable, inspiring photos. I was thrilled to find a chapter on hapa-zome, a method of directly infusing plant colour into cloth. The bundling and clamping techniques look like so much fun, too.

I must have been making audible yummy sounds as I attracted the attention of the fisherman at the next table. "Whatcha got there, a cookbook?" he asked. He looked shocked when I said it was about dyeing, so I had to explain that it was about putting colour on cloth, not Davy Jones' Locker. I guess that was still a bit too weird for him, as he raised his eyebrows and returned his gaze to the hockey game.

And while on the subject of colour, but from a completely different perspective, I have also been enjoying Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey, an amusing and very imaginative novel about a future society where the perception of colour determines status, career and relationships. Lots of fun.


  1. You mentioned eco dyeing, a ferry ride, a pub, and an island all in the beginning of one post. Sounds like a good day to me.

  2. Anonymous9:13 AM

    Heather--I ordered "Eco Dyeing" before it was published and it is already worn and just a little bit tattered. I planted the dark hollyhocks immediately and am waiting for flowers this summer. Fresh ideas, fresh flowers. Dye on!

  3. isn't it incredible how rewarding that book is? to me it feels something like a good meal, a warm bed, and a church pew, all together. life-sustaining. i'm so glad you treated yourself!


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