Cow slipping on ice

concentric circles of echoing harmonics with many thin tones built up on each other…

The cow that slipped was this one, and I saw it when I was walking in Ditchling this time last year.

This is Ethel Mairet’s sign, which hangs in the Ditchling Museum, just around the corner from where she had her natural dye studio. As I write this, my penultimate batch of walnut-dyed yarns is boiling in a pot, this time mordanted with some copper to bring out the darker shades. I wish I had read Mairet’s notes on Walnut before commencing with my project! In Vegetable Dyes, by Ethel M. Mairet, she writes;

The green shell of the walnut fruit and the root are used for dyeing brown. The husks to be used for dyeing must be collected green and fresh, then covered with water and kept from the light to prevent them oxidizing. In the walnut tree there is an astringent colourless substance which gives a greenish yellow dye. This has the property of absorbing oxygen from the air and turning dark brown. It is only the unoxidized pale greenish stuff that can act as the dye, the dark brown itself has no affinity for the wool. Acids should be added to the dye bath to prevent oxidization. Without a mordant the colour is quite fast, but if the wool is mordanted with alum a brighter and richer colour is got. When used they are boiled in water for 1/4 hour, then the wool is entered and boiled till the colour is obtained. Long boiling is not good as it makes the wool harsh. It is much used as a “saddening” agent; that is, for darkening other colours.

This last dye pot is from the fruits that I gathered up in a rather brown and oxidised state, at the end of the Walnut-season. I shall know next year to gather fresh ones, and I can attest from previous experiments that Alum does indeed bring a rich redness to the browns in the Walnut Hulls.

I have found some comparable icy sounds to accompany the rather unhelpful SOUND BANK drawing from today; It was a *very* difficult sound to describe! The attached sound files are the sounds of stones being skimmed across a totally frozen lake, but the cow sounded surprisingly similar when its hooves thudded on the ice. I stood for some time on the hill this time last year, watching the poor cow and wondering if it would actually slip over, but happily, it didn’t.

4 Responses to Cow slipping on ice

  1. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Blog Archive » Feasel & the Bear

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