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Old Market Manor, Barton Manor
Bristol, BS2 0RL

Artisan natural dye studio, using locally foraged and organically grown natural dyes, bio-regionally sourced cloth and paper and low impact traditional and contemporary printmaking techniques. Offering limited edition gifts, bespoke services and a range of workshops to help creatives transition to using non-toxic practices and connecting communities with Nature using creativity as a medium.


Summer Daze

botanical inks


What a wild Summer..!

It feels like an age since the Botanical Inks Summer Tour kicked off, back in May, with a series of workshops for Selvedge Magazine. The last one, exploring and de-mystifying, the alchemical art of developing blue hues from plants. Our "Organic Indigo + Shibori class", offers a clean and quick technique for creating this elusive dye colour, and presents some easy Japanese Shibori, fold and bind, resist-printing techniques.

It was a total thrill to see the unique works students made in this class.

After this, Botanical Inks had a visit from dye master, Aboubakar Fofana, at our rural workspace in North Somerset. We were fascinated to learn from him, about the traditional technique for using a fermentation vat to extract blue dye from actual indigo leaves. For ten days we balanced the dye, using natural lime as our alkaline, and sugar from wheat bran and beer, with the aid of an electric blanket for a consistently warm temperature. After only 8 days, (thanks to our magical Mendip water!), we were able to dye our first pieces of cloth into brilliant ocean blue shades. We had the task of re-balancing the dye for many weeks after Aboubakar left us, which was an incredible learning opportunity, in the complex, and yet simple, nature of intuitively reading and responding to a living dye.

On June 21st we celebrated the Solstice full moon with a land gathering and fireside chatting 'til dawn, here in Somerset. With the days being so long, the hours of dark slipped away without even noticing, before the sun rose again.

And then, off to Glastonbury! The annual convergence of so many wonderful people and endless things to do! We hardly noticed the mud with all the dancing and frolics! ;)

In July, the Botanical Inks mobile dye + print studio, was up and down the country, visiting all manner of splendid places and people. We enjoyed an incredible day at Babington House in Somerset, foraging flowers and plants from the abundant walled garden.

Buddhafields Festival invited me to join their conscious celebrations, sharing the Art of Natural Dyeing with festival goers, using locally foraged plants to colour silk ribbons for adorning floral bouquets and gifts. I enjoyed teaching classes, amongst the busy schedule of meditations, yoga, ecstatic dancing and dharma talks..!

It was fun to then to leave the rural retreat of Buddhafields and slink back into the city, to High Road House in Chiswick, where residents learned a fun new way to release tension, while making beautiful botanical imprints on cloth.

The Hapazome hammering technique, coined by India Flint, is great for quick and plentiful pattern making.

Hauser & Wirth Somerset then hosted an intimate Artist's Workshop for me, at their incredible rural art gallery in Bruton. The day started out with excellent coffee and a walk around the splendid Oudolf Field, designed by, internationally-renowned, Piet Oudolf, from the Netherlands. We marvelled at the landscaping and perennials, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, before nestling down for a day of mind nourishment and creative inspiration.

The first half of the day was spent exploring natural dyes and herbalism. We broke for lunch in the Roth Bar and Grill to indulge in an impressive array of locally sourced seasonal dishes. In the second half of the workshop, we played with organic flowers and plants from Somerset Flower Farm to create some stunning bundle-dyed silks. An enriching group of artists, writers, designers and hobbyists provided a scene full of ideas and opportunities, with new projects and collaborations being borne as a result.

At Hawkwood College, we had the pleasure of harvesting our own dye materials from the gardens, to use in class. Leaves were lovingly used as baskets and we returned to the studio with a series of unique flower offerings.

Beautiful, and carrying a plethora of therapeutic and symbolic values, these were transformed into the pretty silk prints displayed by the group below.

At Port Eliot Festival, we made eco-printed silk napkins, keeping in theme with the foodie vibe.

In a fun blue and white stripy tent! :)

Couldn't leave Cornwall without a trip to this place..

It was super exciting to offer the first Screen Printing With Natural Dyes workshop at East London Printmakers, in Hackney, at the beginning of August. 

And such a joy to work in a proper print studio surrounded by beautiful old letterpress machines.

Just now back from another awesome day at Hawkwood College in Stroud with the Raised By Feminists art collective. Feeling inspired by this rad group of women from the North. ;)

Thanks again to Hawkwood for providing such a wonderous place for foraging and creativity. Those blissfully green Stroud valley views are medicine for the soul.

Here's a pic of me (front right) with the Raised By Feminists Collective, showing off our freshly printed pieces.

Looking forward now to more workshops this Autumn!

A fun new Experimental Dye Art class at The Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, London. October 28th.

Inspired by Saatchi Gallery artist Sigrid Holmwood, this workshop provides an opportunity to experiment with a range of exciting natural dyes and pigments - from flowers, berries, roots, leaves, insects and minerals. Learn how to use Japanese Shibori tie-dyeing to create resist patterns using simple folding and binding techniques, inject botanical dyes into folds of cloth, scatter fresh and dried flower petals into bundles for steaming to release their colour and create direct impressions on cloth. Learn about the joy of using natural materials to create exciting prints and colour on fabrics. 


And two more dates at Hamilton House in Bristol.

 Eco-Printing with Flowers: BYO October 6th

Eco-printing is an awesome, contemporary traditional surface application technique, which allows you to make direct impressions on cloth, without the need for colour extraction or the dye pot.

In this class you can learn how to transfer colour from flowers, berries, leaves and waste foods, into beautiful repeat patterns using a simple fold, bind and steam method. Create plant based designs using your own fabric samples, small items of clothing or other textile projects. And take away something beautiful along with the skills to repeat the process for yourself again and again.

Indigo + Shibori: BYO : October 6th

An exciting opportunity to discover the alchemical process of achieving blue textile colours from plants.

Learn about natural indigo vat dyeing and experiment with a variety of traditional Japanese Shibori fold + bind "resist" pattern making techniques to create beauteous blue and white repeat patterns on cloth. The invitation is to bring your own natural fibre textiles, which must be washed in advance and brought to class damp. (There will also be some organic British silk available in class, for you to purchase at an additional cost). You will leave with an understanding of how to prepare your own vat, using a simple 3-step process, how to prepare, process and finish your cloth for lasting results, and use Shibori to make a range of different patterns, along with your own indigo Shibori dyed item to take away with you.

So many thanks and blessings to all the lovely people who hosted Botanical Inks this Summer and came to our workshops. It's been utterly lush!

With love, Babs :) xxx