In 2001 I signed up for a felting workshop with the talented Leah Jones of Euroa, Victoria. Working as a Park Ranger at the time I had little time for artistic pursuits, my job was my expression. With a horticultural background, working in Natural Resource Management and formerly working in shearing sheds, I found that I loved the textural tactile form of expression using wool and other natural fibres.
In 2007 I had a sea change in Pambula, New South Wales and found more time to explore felting. I attended various workshops, felted in every spare minute using both raw fleece and pre dyed roving from the wonderful first edition fibres and yarns.
As I used more and more raw fleece it was a natural progression to dye my own wool, using various techniques and products, predominantly native Australian plants. This progressed to getting my own small wool carder and using more and more plant dyes for wall hangings and felted wearable art.
'Water Dance Reflection' felt wall hanging
When I returned to Mansfield, Victoria, I explored natural dye techniques more and more. Eco plant dye and print on silk fabric and wool became my passion. Attending eco dye workshops with the inspirational master dyer, India Flint, cemented some technique.
I tend to avoid pre made chemical mordants and other dyes as I learn about what each plant is offering. We have such an abundance of beautiful native plants here that give up beautiful palletes of colour each season. Collecting leaves, bark and nuts and using them for dyes keeps me in touch with nature and what she brings. I want to tread lightly on this earth so my practice produces very little waste as I think about the environment.
Wool and silk take natural native plant dyes so well and are versatile fabrics for wearing all year round. Organic cotton, bamboo and linen are amongst my favourite for summer. The fabrics are ethically sourced, that support fair work and trade ethics. I like comfortable, flexible clothing that can be layered and gathered to produce versatility of wear. Natural fabrics breathe, move with you and are long lasting.
I like to leave some raw edges. As each garment is handmade, no two are the same. I use various pots, which act as mordants, for different color outcomes. For Prints each piece of fabric is individually laid out, wrapped and put into the cauldron. Dye techniques vary from over and over dyeing to single dye preparations. Single block color dyeing brings a warmth to the fabric. Many of my fabric pieces have landed on walls for their 'natural art of the bush' quality.
Janene placing leaves on fabric for eco dye printing