Findhorn and Forres, Scotland

I recently had the pleasure of taking a trip up to Scotland. It took me 5 trains to get from my parents home in England up to the small town of Forres situated on the Moray coast. I was lucky enough to be attending a training course in Forres and had the opportunity to explore this idyllic corner of the world.

On our free afternoon my fellow participants and myself visited the ecovillage at Findhorn, and wow what a place! Not only has this ecovillage grown from nothing to a thriving community in the past 50 years, it has been at the forefront of eco-friendly design and experiments in community life. However, the thing that struck me most about this place was the undeniable commitment to craftsmanship. This was most evident in the construction of the Universal Hall that plays host to many events.

This stunning building, nestled between the trees, is a showcase of craftsmanship. From the conception of the overall design through to every detail of the stained glass windows, mosaics and interior decor this building is exemplary. The mosaics on the pavement outside immediately caught my attention:

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But I think that one of the most impressive features is possibly the dry stone walling. Dry stone walls are common in this area but usually have a rather rough appearance. Not so in Findhorn ecovillage! Here dry stone walls have been taken to the next level and the precision is pretty mind-blowing.

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On this wall the stone even creates a mural showing the river Findhorn flowing through the Cairngorms and running out to the sea at Findhorn Bay.

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As mentioned above, in the ecovillage they have also experimented with various types of sustainable construction and eco friendly design. This house is incredibly made from an upcycled whiskey barrel! Apparently you could still smell the whiskey for 5 years after the house was complete!

After visiting the ecovillage, we took the short walk over to the beach.

Walking down the beach, we took a short cut across the dunes and arrived at the little harbour and sat down for a well deserved fish and chips. The north of Scotland gets ridiculously long days in summer so we were able to sit outside into the evening and enjoy the fabulous reflection of the boats on the mirror-like water:

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The next day we had another treat as we were able to spend a couple of hours at the Highland Games in Forres. We saw various races and athletic competitions, a very competitive tug-of-war, traditional Scottish dancing, Haggis burgers, plenty of kilts and of course…a whole host of bagpipes!

 

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Natural Dyes and Eco Printing

I’ve recently become quite fascinated with natural dyes and eco printing. It is amazing what you can use to dye fabric or yarn… food remains like onion skins and avocado pits or flowers and leaves create a variety of colours and sometimes pattern too. There are several different methods which can give different results depending on what look you are going for. But I will cover the different techniques individually in more detail in later posts.

As with most of my new obsessions, it started with something I saw on Pinterest. I have now made a board on the topic, so if you are looking for more inspiration check out my ‘Natural Dyes and Eco Printing’ board. My next step is usually to look on etsy to see what other people are making. I found this amazing project by ImmySmithArt which uses plant dye to make ‘chromoscapes‘ in order to “create a visual chemical memory of the places plants were collected”. How awesome is that?!

 

You can buy a chromoscape here

You can also find a whole range of different items of clothing that have been eco printed on etsy. I have picked this shawl to showcase as I think it shows the real potential of eco printing. It is well designed, has vivid colours and crisp lines.

Find the shawl here

So having been inspired and done a little research, I decided to have a go myself. I was lucky enough to be at my parents house where I could plunder the garden for the materials I needed. I more or less followed the instructions from Frankie, using rose petals, a variety of leaves and some rusty nails.

I pinched some apple cider vinegar from my mum and soaked the plain white cotton fabric in it. Laying the fabric out flat, I then placed on it the petals and leaves before wrapping them around the nails. I tightly tied the bundle up with string and put it in a steamer for just under two hours. The results were mixed, but not bad for the first time. In some places you can see the rose petals coming through and the outline of some leaves.

I think it could have done with a little more time in the steamer to really let to the colour of the rose petals show through. I then made part of the fabric into a little drawstring bag:

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For a first attempt I was quite pleased with the result and it is definitely something I will be trying again in the near future. Keep an eye on the blog for more about natural dyes and eco printing.

For more information there are several resources out there on this topic including Angela Daymond’s Dyeing from Natures Store Cupboard.

 

 

 

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