My Journey

A participatory community art project for the weekday users of the Heaton Baptist Church Life Centre.

2016-01-25 09.17.28

And so it begins – with two trolley loads of materials!

This project aims to build stronger connections with the adults and young people who attend groups at the Centre on Mondays to Saturdays. My role will be to engage with some of the groups through art workshops and then to produce a large textile artwork from the source material, for display in the entrance to the building.

The theme for the project, My Journey, is intended to encourage participants to talk about how their own ‘life journey’ has led to them joining a group or groups at HBC.

This week, I have been running ‘Spiral Dyeing’ workshops with the Toddlers Groups that meet on Monday and Tuesday mornings. My preferred textile process is applique with free machine embroidery, and lately I have returned to dyeing fabrics to achieve a specific colour palette to work with. So, for this project, I want to use fabrics that have been coloured by workshop participants. We talked about how colour can be symbolic – in the general and personal sense – for example, red can mean love, or anger – but it might also bring memories of a red dress worn on a specific occasion.

In preparation, I made colour boards that are being used at HBC to get participants thinking about colours that could represent stages in their life journey. At the workshops, I also took along examples of colour in my own work and that of other artists.

Spiral dyeing is a quick and easy way to get gorgeous colour combinations on fabric. I use procion dyes on 100% cotton that has been pre soaked in a washing soda solution and is still damp.


With the dye already mixed and in squeezey bottles, all that’s needed is to twist a flat piece of cloth into a spiral, place it in a tray and add the colour! Its relatively mess free – but still best to wear gloves and aprons -just in case!


Here you can see the first splashes of yellow being added – colours can be made by pouring one dye over another..


where the red and yellow mix, orange will appear – definitely a ‘high energy toddler’ colour!


The greens here have been achieved by mixing yellow and turquoise or navy.


when everyone has added all their colours, the fabric spirals are placed in plastic bags and left to cure for 24 hours before washing off in cold water – I just need to make sure I keep tabs on whose is which!

I’ll be posting pictures of the finished pieces when they’re all rinsed and dried. Two more workshops for this next week and, I think, a slightly different fabric colouration method for the secondary school group on Tuesday.



Published by Donna Cheshire Textiles

I am a professional textile artist specializing in Appliqué and Free Motion machine stitching. In order to create a unique colour palette, I hand dye my own fabrics and then use these to create the landscapes and coastal scenes recorded in my sketchbook. I often incorporate recycled or vintage fabrics in my work - they add meaning to the story the work is telling. I love being so close to the Northumbrian coast and countryside and I especially like taking time walk and draw these stunning landscapes

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