Arty journeys...


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A weekend workshop and two Coombe Wood walks in the sunshine


I spent a very inspiring two days at a rust dyeing workshop weekend led by Alice Fox with a really lovely group of ladies - made up of most of the art group I belong to and members of a textile group called "SEW" (South East Workshop group) that a couple of our art group are also part of

I've been to several of Alice's exhibitions. Something in me responds very strongly to her artwork - so it was really lovely to be taught by her. I have done some rust dyeing before with some success but I've never been able to think of what to do with the results. The sessions filled me with inspiration about how to use the paper and fabric which we dyed with rusty objects, and various kinds of tea, or red wine.

Rusty items were placed onto tea or red wine soaked paper or different kinds of fabric - or else wrapped in thin strips of fabric and tied if necessary before soaking them in tea or red wine - or else stitched between two layers of fabric and soaked in tea or red wine.

They were then put aside to allow the rust and tea or wine to stain the fabric and left until the fabric or paper was completely dry

A wrapped piece of rusty metal soaking in tea

Various kinds of tea produce different results with colours varying from shades of yellow, orange, green, brown and red

A couple of my bundles rusting. I haven't undone these yet because they're still damp and I don't want to stop the rusting process until they're as dark as they are going to get 

In the picture below are various items drying on the plastic lid

  • two pieces of fabric stitched together with rusty items between the layers, soaked in tea
  • four wrapped bundles

and on the table in front of the lid.....

  • a concertina book in its early stages - cut from a dried A4 rust dyed sheet of paper (more to be done on this one)
  • a tiny rust dyed silk square which I've added some stitches to. Alice gave each of us a little silk fabric roll to unwrap which she had rust dyed for us (wrapped around  a spring or screw). My stitched square was cut from this. I'm really looking forward to using the rest

The workshop has given me loads of ideas and also reminded me of several things I had forgotten. I found it extremely inspiring.

Alice Fox also stitches leaves. I've been collecting some leaves - I might try stitching some myself. When I got home I was surprised to find that some of the leaves I had picked up in Coombe Wood last week were still almost as fresh as they were when I found them. These are dark shiny and deeply textured on the front and pale and soft, almost fluffy on the back

Layered leaves, front and back

The front is glossy and very bumpy

The back is covered in tiny little soft clusters of hairs


I had a gentle shorter walk than usual - still recovering from the extra activity of the weekend. The dazzling low afternoon sunshine glistened on a prickly shrub in the overflow car park and shone through the spiders webs and the fallen leaves that had caught on it

Lovely blue sky

and golden leaves

By the fence near the entrance - tiny white flowers

Sunshine streaming through the weeping willow leaves

The gardener was just finishing putting the plants in the flower beds and was about to mow the grass

These flowers by the pond now look as if they are wearing red and gold crowns

More red and gold

Looking down - a golden carpet

My favourite acer - so many winged seeds. I like this one specially because it's big enough to stand under and be able to gaze up through it

A pair of pine needles caught on a little twig, with a spiders web woven between the needles. I think this would make a fabulous ear ring design. I wish I knew how to make ear rings - that's at least the third ear ring design inspired by nature at Coombe Wood that I've noticed in the last couple of weeks

More autumn colours

Another ear ring design here - all sorts of berries would make fabulous ear rings

Deep orange leaves

Pale orange berries and purple leaves

Looking closer at the pampas grass - so white and fluffy

I passed the gardener mowing the grass

Most of the dew had gone but some water droplets remained on these flowers which might be asters/michelmas daisies

Bees are still buzzing about and enjoying the flowers

I asked the gardener about these seed pods and was pleased to discover that they're another variety of spindle berries. I'm looking forward to seeing them when they open. Why didn't I notice them last year though? Hopefully I can't miss them this year - there are so many on the trees

Tufty white grass seeds on arching stems in the prairie beds

Rows of plants 

Looking closer

Near the entrance the huge gunera leaves are catching the falling weeping willow leaves


Before my walk I took a few photographs in our garden - of the Abultilon Thompsonii (Variegata) which I was given from Coombe Wood a month ago when they were being removed to make space for the new planting because they won't overwinter without protection. It's having another flush of flowers and looks fabulous but I will definitely need to protect it very soon. The petals are orange with raised red veins which make them look like crumpled draped fabric

Then off to Coombe Wood for another shortened walk - still recovering from the weekend. I caught sight of the gardener busy planting bulbs between all the rows of plants in the flower beds

Around the corner a string of orange leaves is twining its way through some evergreens, decorating them like tinsel on a Christmas tree

Looking closer at some tiny flowers - this whole head of blue flowers is smaller than my finger nail

and these little tufty pink and cream flowers aren't much bigger

and here's the white version - they're so dainty

The rose hips looked like the red berry kind of Christmas lights lit up by the sun

The daisies are still flowering

 Nasturtiums scrambling all over the fence above the cafe courtyard - orange

and yellow. Looking right inside at the amazing structure and markings

The pink fluffy plants in the prairie bed are turning to seed

and what amazing seeds they are. I thought they were fluffy before - that was nothing compared to how fluffy they look now

Looking closer at one of the taller daisy-like flowers. Some pinky orange curls showing at the place where the central cone meets with the petals

There are still loads of the shorter variety flowering

Much to my surprise there are still more echinaceas coming out

and the banana flower is still there

On a few stems of the Korean pine there are some red things (very technical) - some have come off leaving perfect little circles

I've only seen two cones on the tree this year. I love the pattern on these

The tiny but stunning beauty berries are plump and deep glossy purple now

Looking closer 

Lovely blue sky - second day running

and a carpet of red leaves and chestnut cases

I must go back for a closer look at these with their red tinged new growth and what could either be little green pods or flower buds that are showing a glimpse of dusty pink

Curtains of autumnal gold

Beech nuts

 Pampas grass looking like trees in a snowstorm

 Looking closer at the seeds

Back to the edge of the pond where the iris berries look even darker and flatter than they did yesterday

The gardener planting bulbs

Thank you very much for joining me


  1. sounds like you had a fabulous weekend too. Love the concertina book. The purple berries are just stunning! I love the cones too - though it looks as if someone's been spitting on them (or is that just me?) The gardener works very hard and gets great results.

    1. Thank you Helen, Ha ha - that's a trickle of resin on the cones. The resin was clear to start with but has gone opaque - still very sticky. Yes the gardener works extremely hard and the results are amazing.

  2. Yet another lovely and very informative post Angela, and your written descriptions are just as luscious as your photos.

    1. Thank you for your lovely encouraging comment Cath.

  3. Perhaps we should meet up again and make ear rings?

    1. If only I knew how! Do you know any good methods?

    2. Oooh! Yes that would be really good then!