Archive for January, 2013

On the Easel – Mon 28th Jan 2013

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Dying the Wool - 1st Painting

I have now completed all my private portrait commissions and will be focussing on my Harris Tweed Heritage project for the next four months. This is the latest progress on “Dyeing the Wool“, it’s oil on canvas, 28 x 22 inches. It’s about halfway to completion. This painting is part of my Harris Tweed Heritage project; the objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.  – Work in Progress.

This painting will be part on my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013).

Background Info

Once the sheep had been sheared, the first process in producing Harris Tweed was to dye the wool. The fleeces were dyed using a variety of natural materials from the surrounding land depending on what colour was sought for the wool. Flowers and roots such as Iris, Water Lilly, Nettles, Heather and Ferns;  Yellow, Black and White Crotal (course Lichen) scrapped from the rocks, Old Man’s Beard, Seaweed, Peat Soot kept from the chimneys in the croft. The wool would be dyed in a big cast iron pot over a peat fire kept boiling continuously until the desired colour was achieved. Some of the old recipes are fascinating and the dyes truly put the colour of the land into the wool.

The backdrop for the painting is Loch Plockropool on the Isle of Harris. This is the same spot where Marion Campbell used to do her dyeing and in fact that is Marion’s old dye pot in the painting. Thanks to Catherine Campbell for allowing the use of her aunt Marion’s artefacts, you can find out more about Marion here http://harristweedandknitwear.co.uk/family.html and there is a lovely little book about her life written by Gisela Vogler called “A Harris Way of Life”.

The models is Kim. Costume is by Nicola Ellis.

Thanks to Kathy and the staff at the Carloway Mills for supplying Tweed and Wool.

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