Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Helen Melvin at the Abergele Guild

Helen Melvin came to our meeting this evening to give an inspiring talk entitled "A Passionate Journey". She told us about her love of colour, dating back to her early childhood, and described the development of her interest (obsession?) with natural dyeing. We were all fascinated by her account, and we loved the glorious colours she showed us on the silk and wool she brought with her. Helen dyes with natural dye extracts - super-concentrated colour in powder form - and with dyeplants from her own garden. At the last count there were 60 different dyeplants, grown by Helen and her friend & gardener Enys. Helen demonstrated her method of painting with dye extracts directly onto fleece/felt, but we will have to visit her studio to see the results as the dye must be left overnight to percolate through the fibre before steaming to set the colour! She described her methods for dyeing 16 micron merino without felting the fibre, environmental dyeing using the heat and light of the sun, and natural fermentation vats for madder and indigo. Those of us who have some experience of dyeing have been inspired to start again, and those who have never dyed anything are itching to get started!
Thank you very much indeed, Helen.
Helen's work can be seen on her blog "Growing colour" (which is also in our "other blogs" link, to the right of the posts.) Her studio is open at weekends in September as part of "Helfa Gelf Open Studios", an event taking place across 4 counties in North Wales and involving 112 artists.

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