every last ounce of goodness


I’ve been dying fabric for the quilt lately. I’ve been dying fabric for years. It got me thinking: The only stage I don’t like is towards the end when the residue dye – as it’s no longer active – has to be poured away. Why? it’s mostly water. But something inside me winces, it’s beautifully colored water and I don’t want to waste a drop of color.

In my perpetual quest for ways to wring every last ounce of goodness out of every stage in a process, last week I had one of those why did I never think of this before epiphanies.

rolled paper in a jam jar of dye dregs It’s no good to dye fabric with now, but it will dye paper!

Decanting the dye dregs into jam jars, rolling up scrap paper and standing them in the jar.

Then just let science take over: the water soaks in and climbs up the dry paper bringing the remaining pigment in its wake.

When they’re soaked through, or the water in the jar has dried up, or when I just need to clear some space I empty the lot into a bucket to finish intermingling and eventually dry.


dye dreg paper dying

It’s satisfying on so many levels: using up color, repurposing scrap paper, creating patterns for future collages and art works. It does it’s own thing when left to its own devices. It’s messy and unpredictable (just like me) And it’s effectively better than free!

More variations on the theme:

  • Dry paper, water-splashed paper, soaked paper (hot & cold water)
  • Letting the liquid soak part way up, then up-ending the paper so it runs down and creeps up at the same time
  • Pouring more color down the inside of the paper rolls
  • Using paper that’s been part printed on the inkjet so the colors merge and dribble into each other
  • Coffee dregs instead of / mixed with colored water
  • Just water + inkjet printed paper (but not laser printed – that ink won’t run)
  • Scrumpled paper for a veiny effect
  • Glossy photo paper (make good use of those expensive printer mistakes!)

resistance to drawing


Funny how some fragments of life become lodged in that part of the memory that keeps rolling back round to the front.

This was part of the conversation in my interview for art school 2 years ago…

Me: I’d really like to learn to draw
Tutor: Huh?
Me: Yeh, I can’t draw, y’know like real things
Tutor: Bullshit!  Fuck, I’m not meant to swear in interviews…

This was the point I knew I was going to fit in.

In class with same tutor some while later we were drawing the music that was playing – the topic came up again: But you are drawing a real thing… or are you saying music isn’t a real thing?

But I still have this resistance towards drawing. I accept I can (to a degree) do it, but something inside me chooses not to. But I want to. But I don’t.

The inner-squabble continues, meanwhile I splosh and splatter and doodle inside the familiar comfort zone, rarely stretching out to sketch and interpret shapes and objects.


Page 32 began with ink and coffee dregs – the ideal background for some drawing of real things! I started out with some stuff in my immediate view – scissors, water jug, paint brushes, my left hand.

Over this I drew some of the imagery from a vivid dream I had the night before. (After all, dreams are real things too, right?)

I will endeavour to do this again. Art is like all exercise – remember to stretch!

a day in a page, part 3


Here’s kinda where we left off earlier, the coffee has soaked in and the general consistency of the page is still damp and squodgy.


Time for paint! Inner Kid is impatient with all this waiting, drying, waiting, so we press on:

Paint and drippy ink. And more purple again!

More splatter! More messy!

More!!!

In a bid to tame the splattering we meditate a moment on the yellow ink and coffee-ness of tomorrow’s page. I love this a lot. Even if nothing else comes of this weekend, the ink + coffee thing is going to be replayed!

But it doesn’t do the trick, the splattering amps up…

…………………..can this page be saved??? It’s looking kinda out of control to me……………..

A day in a page, part 2 of part 2


Remember the fantastic ink squirting device from earlier today? Well here it returns but with even more ridiculous proportions. We needed red instead of yellow, which meant draining the yellow out of the squirty-bit. Never wanting to waste color, we released the residue onto tomorrow’s page.

Tomorrow’s page was temporary resting place for the palette we had lined up for later – (clear plastic box lid). No other space for it, so plonked back down on the puddle of ink.And wow! Happyaccidental art!

Look! It just happened!!

These pages are now both very soggy.

So it kinda didn’t matter to get a bit more soggier still… cue: coffee dregs. (Such a shame to waste)

Proper drying time now needed. I have to say, at this stage all I know is this is way off finished. It could absolutely go in ANY direction and I wouldn’t be surprised. Check back soon-ish, I’ll show you what comes next 😉