Natural Dyeing: Logwood and Cochineal with Lancaster&Cornish

Hosted by Sian Cornish and Irene Griffin, 19-20 May, £325

Join Sian and Irene and explore the wonderful world of natural colour in a series of ‘The Art of Natural Dying’ workshops, the series starts with an in depth look at Logwood and Cochineal. Your journey begins with an introduction to natural dyes and their historical perspective.  Throughout the afternoon of the first day and for part of the second day, students will create a wonderful technical resource in the form of a fully notated reference booklet of colours created with various mordants and dye strengths of both Logwood and Cochineal on silk, wool, linen and cotton. For the remainder of the time, students will create their own silk scarf, dyed and painted with natural dyes.

Cochineal insects are scale insects that are not at all related to beetles. In fact the term cochineal beetle is a complete misnomer.  These South and Central American bugs living and feeding on various species of Prickly Pear, (Opuntia) cactus, produce carminic acid in order to deter predation by other insects, which in turn becomes cochineal dye. This highly prized and coveted dyestuff was smuggled into Europe and leading textile-producing nations fought for exclusive rights. It added a whole new wonderful dimension to the existing European palette by bringing carmine and scarlet reds on wools and raspberry pinks on silk.

To accompany the delicious pantheon of cochineal reds Irene will also introduce another historically important plant dye, namely Logwood, (haematoxylum campechianum). This flowering tree, also known as ‘bloodwood tree’ is native to southern Mexico and northern Central America and was of great economic importance from the 17th century to the 19th century, when it was commonly logged and exported to Europe for dyeing cloth. Taken from the heartwood, the wood is chipped and fermented and can produce violet, blue, grey and black using a range of recipes on a range of fibres.

Logwood extract is a natural tinctorial wood extract that is antiallergenic, antistatic, biodegradable and safe. It is also very strong and creates high quality colour that is resistant to both washing and light.

Irene has been absorbed in the world of colour since childhood and delights in sharing the ancient art of natural dyeing with textiles students and practitioners. Based in Cornwall at Falmouth University, her ongoing practice of the subject is developing into research of sustainable industrial colour production as well as the anthropological significance of plant dyes. 

Sian is an Environmental Scientist and textile lover with a strong family heritage in the cotton weaving mills of Lancashire. Through her company, Lancaster & Cornish, she hand dyes with plan based dyes ribbons and textiles for the wedding industry, and also collaborates eith other artists on the exploration of local and regional colour and landscape.

There are 8 places available on this course, suitable for beginners. The price includes a daily two course meal, and all materials.

Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, Cott Rd, Lostwithiel PL22 0HW