Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Natural Dyeing & Felt Making Courses in Scotland

Wild Rose Escapes run craft, wild cookery and relaxation holidays and courses in the heart of the Highlands of Scotland. Their courses include natural dyeing and felt making. We invited owner Rosie to tell us a little more about their craft holidays.

"I have been running craft courses in the Highlands of Scotland for over 7 years now and since the very beginning I have been buying materials from Fibrecrafts (George Weil & Sons Ltd). I started off running felting and natural dyeing courses and after buying my own small flock of Shetland sheep, we started running our Fleece to Felt weeks and Dye to Hand Spin courses. We teach the whole process - guests watch Alex hand-shear our Shetland sheep, they learn how to wash the fleece, make natural dyes, and learn how to felt a final piece. We also teach spinning and eco-printing using flowers and leaves."


"I always use Fibrecrafts and always recommend the site to participants on my courses and holidays. They do a great natural dye starter kit, which is a real help to beginners, with a little bit of everything in it. Living where we do, a lot of retailers will add an extra cost if they are sending goods to the Highlands - Fibrecrafts never do, which I so appreciate."


"Although we do order ancient dyes in, such as Indigo, Madder and Logwood, it is also fun to forage for dye plants and make our own dyes. Each season has something to offer. We are lucky living in the Highlands as we have so many dye plants on our door step. In the Spring we forage for Gorse and Broom flowers, and Bracken fronds, then Meadowsweet, Birch leaves and many more in the summer, moving onto berries, bark and fungi in the Autumn. Like dyers from earlier times I like to mix foraged plants alongside ancient imported dyes creating a rainbow of colours."


"Working outside is such a joy and because we live in a woodland I am lucky enough to be able to dye outside over fires, as we have a never ending supply of wood. However, although this is the way I love to dye it is not the only way and it is easy enough to set up a little dye workshop in a garage space or patio, all you really need is the enthusiasm to experiment."


"You can see from our photographs some of the stunning colours that can be created from nature." Visit Rosie's website to find out more about Wild Rose Escapes. If you would like to have a go at any of the crafts mentioned by Rosie, you can browse the George Weil website for Natural Dyeing, Felt Making and Spinning.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Speedball Speedy Carve Block for Printing & Texture

The Speedy Carve block is made from smooth and flexible rubber. It cuts easily with lino cutter blades and does not crumble, making it ideal for creating detailed prints. The latex free rubber also stops the block from slipping around while it is being cut.

The wavy lines on this Speedy Carve block were cut freehand using the Speedball No 37 Linozips Safety Cutter. The safety cutter blades are angled and cutting is achieved by pulling the blade towards the body, much like the action of peeling a potato.


More about the Speedy Carve block


The blocks are available in a choice of 3 sizes; 3" x 4", 4" x 6" and a large 6" x 12". They can be used as they are or easily cut to the required size with a craft knife.

Speedball recommend that the Speedy Carve is used with water soluble paints and block printing inks. We suggest using either Speedball Block Printing Inks or Daler Rowney Block Printing Inks. Alternatively, an acrylic based paint thickened with Daler Rowney System 3 Block Printing Medium will work equally well.

The rubber is so flexible that it can be used to print onto cylindrical objects such as plant pots, tin cans or cardboard tubes.

Uses for the cut Speedy Carve block


The print below was created using Jacquard Lumiere paints. These thick acrylic paints are water soluble and available in a large choice of shimmering colours for a variety of surfaces, including fabric. The paint has pooled slightly in the recesses of the cut block and thickening the paint would produce a finer print.


Block printing inks have are formulated specifically for printing and applied to the block using a brayer roller. The brayer is used to cover the block with a uniform coating of ink helping to ensure a clear transfer. If you prevent the paint or ink from drying on the block, it is easy to wash off with soap and warm water.

We used the same cut Speedy Carve block as a texture sheet or stamp for polymer clay. Polymer clay is a smooth modelling clay which can be low temperature heat hardened in a domestic oven.



The 6mm deep block can also be cut to make a mould for fine modelling materials such as Art Clay Silver clays. Use a little petroleum jelly in the mould and release the item while gently flexing the block.

Browse our selection of Block Printing inks & tools or visit the Model Making section to view the types of clay on available from George Weil