Well, not sure where to start really when reporting back on the International Symposium and Exhibition of Natural Dyes! It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my textile life and I came away feeling much more hopeful for the future of this vital way of creating colour from the resources provided by nature. The photo above shows me on the left and Alison Daykin, under the huge sign that advertises what is happening inside Espace Encon.
450 people attended, from 60 different countries, all bringing their expertise and enthusiasm for natural dyes and with a willingness to share what they knew. We understand that this knowledge, some of which is still confined to very small populations in remote areas of the world, must be preserved before it is too late.
There is so much to say that I think it will gradually emerge over the next few postings, but I had the opportunity to meet two of my dye extract suppliers, Andi from Renaissence Dyes and Patrick from Coleurs de Plantes, and even better, to go to Coleurs de Plantes premises and see for myself the care that is taken in producing these extracts - no synthetics used, just plant material and drying techniques. I watched Yoshika Wada make resist paste from rice bran, tried to see Michel Garcia's indigo vat but the crowd was too deep (got the recipe, though!), have a tiny piece of silk dyed with shellfish purple extract during a demonstration with Dr Takako Terada from Kwassui Women's University in Japan, made a piece of marbled indigo on silk...some much to do and so nice to meet up with friends old and new, and put faces to people only known up to now online.
La Rochelle, the venue, is a beautiful old town and I have taken dozens of photos of the buildings - just my style, late medieval and early modern. Wish I'd popped across when doing my degree as my essays would have been far more interesting! Eating fresh strawberries from Provence, bought in the market, in the gardens of the Natural History Museum, in the sun - April doesn't get much better than that!
Then to get home and find moths emerging and mating taking place made the perfect end to the perfect week. More soon...