Meander Valley Gazette

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The Forest Folk at work

Arts & Artisans, Community, FeatureJoanne Eisemann
Photo by Mike Moores  Jasmine Rocca of Jackey‘s Marsh, an instructor at the Forest Folk workshops, preparing plants and fabric for dyeing with Bonnie McGee of Weetah.

Photo by Mike Moores

Jasmine Rocca of Jackey‘s Marsh, an instructor at the Forest Folk workshops, preparing plants and fabric for dyeing with Bonnie McGee of Weetah.

NESTLED IN a child-friendly wooded wonderland in Jackey’s Marsh, the Forest Folk recently hosted a fun eco-printing workshop.

Jasmine Rocca and Alena Leek are two ladies who have been running a nature club each Tuesday at Deloraine Primary.

They run programs for children, teaching such natural crafts as making lavender bags, growing eggshell gardens, making hommus and colouring fabrics with natural plant dyes. So successful have these programs been that they hope to expand into other schools.

Jasmine and Alena decided it was unfair for kids to have all the fun, so they have extended their workshops to teach natural skills to adults.

First on the agenda was a forest walk to gather a selection of leaves, wattle blossoms, vines, barks, buds and other vegetation.

An imposing steel tripod supported a blazing outdoor fire that dispelled the winter chills, and boiled two large pots of water.

Back at the work tables, lengths of recycled fabric were sprayed with vinegar water.

Leaves were dipped into a bowl of rusty water, then shaken off, and arranged in pleasing designs on one edge of the fabric. The other side of the fabric was folded on top of the leaves. All was rolled around lengths of bamboo, secured with twine, then tossed into the boiling water, one coloured with turmeric.

An hour of convivial tea drinking and story swapping later, the bamboo rolls were retrieved and laid out with much oohing and aahing as the fabric revealed its secrets.

All were amazed at the almost photographic clarity of tiny details in leaves and buds, and the range of muted colours.

The many prints were hung out to dry on a line, some of them turmeric-yellow with the tie-dye effect of the twine adding more interest.

That such a delightful result could be achieved in little more than an hour was motivation to experiment more with this simple, fail safe technique at home.

Jasmine and Alena explained that their intention is to use only found or recycled objects to create beautiful crafts. They source all their boiling pots, tongs, fabric and rusty objects from tip shops and op shops. The only thing bought retail was vinegar.

The Forest Folk will be teaching eco-printing at Cygnet Folk Festival next January, but until then, they have a great program of other fun, nature-based skill-building workshops at Deloraine.

So if you have ever yearned to whittle, learn bush survival skills, make your own clay bead jewellery, colour fleece and fabric with dyes made from your own garden plants, twine flax into cordage and weave useful baskets, identify and collect edible mushrooms from the forest, and even grow your own shiitake mushroom logs, the Forest Folk can grant your wishes.

Materials are included in the cost for each course, and you can take home anything you have made (including two shiitake logs!)

To view the full range of workshops that are available and to make bookings, go to: Email jasminerocca@gmail. com or call/text 0422 193 971 for enquiries.