I love the way a research guides you from an encounter to another. This is when the making sets out to be a social experinece as much as a physical relationship with material.
Passing on knowledge seems to be part of human nature; I met Sarah Waters this week, a felt maker from Woodgreen, New Forest, a grerat wool specialist who started from breeding the sheep before she got into felting.
I discovered new types of wool to use and tips as to which one felts or dyes best, how to wash it...
Then, she put me on to Judy Hardiman, expert in natural dyes, living near Romsey, who gave me two young madder plants and a weld. She also gave me precious historical information about madder and army coat dyeing.
However, the more I seem to learn about madder, the more the task I set to do seems impossible;
The scale I wish to work in makes the technique irrelevant; natural plant dyeing is such a lengthy and random process that It will not respond to my expectations of finding a specific colour for a large amount of material. So why was it used to creat an army, I wonder?
But the real question is, can I recreate , for the sake of one project, the process that was originaly used out of no alternative?
My first major problem is the amount of madder needed to achieve the depth of colour I am going for.