A playground of colours

Colourfast or precarious-colour, the collecting and printing of local natural dyes as a contemplative study of beauty and change.

Organic calico

Pomegranate from Brixton market (Peru)

Iron-water from the garden

Printed using recycled cut-paper stencils

Buddleia and blackberries; flotsam of inner-city scrubland.

Damson and blackcurrants; sweet glut of friends allotment. 

Mulberries; abundantly sticky-dropping off festooned trees. 

Avocado, cabbage, pomegranate; the closing excess of market stalls.

Heritage of weld and madder; knowledge passed through centuries.

Experimental plants; harvests by myriad of artisan gardeners. 

Steamed to fix the dye.

Gently hand-washed, colour-transpose revealed.

Weld, buckthorn, madder, pomegranate, iron, avocado, soda-ash, and citric, silk-screen printed on calico.

Buckthorn and cochineal; complementary and judicious use of imported dye. Rousingly singing accompaniment to the (gentler) locals.

Some colours gracefully slide from vivid to mute, others stay bold-vibrant. Design for change.

Colour squabble

Natural dyes  have unique personalities; quarrelsome, needy, mellow, extrovert. Screen-printing with them is to party with a diverse crowd of friends, clamouring for a change in the tempo of the dance music. 


Machiavellian identity changer; rocks up in a leather jacket as mean-man, full of importance. Hangs out with Ferrous Sulphate, and trades his soul for longevity, spending hours on dark mischief making. Without Ferrous, he winds up snoring and grey in the corner as the sun rises (yep, he’s one of those dyes that fade)


Festival aroma of crushed evening grass, wending a way back to the tent. Slinks around with Soda Ash, for heightened perception.


Complicated. Prevaricates about timing, years pass as the slow waltz is perfected in underground clubs. Dominating until the finale; wearing ugly brown cardigan, covering up the palest pink and fiery orange.  


Jets in from Brazil’s coastal Atlantic Forest; rarefied, exotic, whiff of danger. An extrovert, lindy-hops to the wee-small hours in strappy slinky fuchsia dress. Partners Fustic for an orange delight twirl around the dancefloor.

Sappenwood impersonates and replicates, and is so much more available.


Timid until teamed up with an alkaline partner, and then WOW it’s an all night party. 

And then there’s the colour modifiers…