Build your own self-paced, foraged & farmed natural dye workshop
In past years, I have hosted a workshop or two at my studio that centers around ethically foraging and lovingly extracting color from wild organisms. Due to the uncertainty of Covid-19 this year, I'm opting to make my workshop materials available for purchase, as well as offering a couple different options for video gatherings to answer questions and discuss projects. There are benefits to this approach, namely that you get to explore your own backyards and woods for dye-providing organisms. Also, I aim to make all the educational materials very accessibly priced. I invite you to join at whatever level of participation matches your life and interests. However you choose to engage, please approach the natural world with an extra intention of gentleness and care this year.
Exercise / meditation: The ethical foraging mode of being in the woods
This is the exercise that I use to start off the foraging part of my workshop. In thinking about what would be valuable for students to take away with them, I reflected on the things that foraging and growing natural dyes has taught me beyond the practical steps to transferring color to fiber, such as: new modes of being in the ecosystems around me, a way of working with the sensitivity I have always felt towards non-human forms of life, and an intention to remain open to the possibilities of learning from the organisms that provide my dyes. These lessons mirror and support a whole philosophy of living slow, observing deeply, and exploring not just a creative practice, but an ethical and socially engaged life as well.
I suggest you print out the blog post and bring it in the woods with you so you can sit down and work through it with various different organisms.
Field Guide to Foraged Dyes of Southern Vermont
This 40 page, pocket-sized, self-published guide book, offers an introduction to ethical foraging and identification for 20 of my go-to natural dye organisms. The title refers to southern Vermont, but it will be useful for anyone in the northeastern quadrant of the US and probably eastern Canada; and, to a slightly lesser degree, other places as well. I just didn't want to make claims beyond my very small radius of foraging experience.
I've made the book available to purchase from the print on demand service Lulu.
Step-by-step natural dyeing instructions
This is a pdf download of the 14 printed pages that I normally provide to workshop participants in a little 6 x 9 binder. The step-by-step instructions are specifically for dyeing protein fibers (wool, silk, and other fibers from animals.)
The topics covered are:
No frills, black and white, text only!
Note: this download is INCLUDED in the beginner Q&A sessions below.
3 online group Q&A sessions for beginner / intermediate natural dyers
These will be sessions for your foraging and natural dyeing questions and answers. The discussions will be limited to the process of dyeing protein fibers such as wool, silk and other animal fibers (no cotton, linen, hemp, etc., or synthetics). They are spaced out every two weeks during the height of the harvest and foraging season so that you can be working along at your own pace and check in with the group periodically to ask questions and get un-stuck. I'll ask that you submit your questions in advance so that I can guide the discussion and have demo materials on hand to be the most useful. I recommend that you also order the field guide book unless you are already well on your way to knowing your local dye producers. Please note that I won't be able to cover indigo dyeing in any depth in these sessions.
After purchasing the series, you'll receive a link for a free download of the basic natural dyeing instructions pdf.
Three Wednesdays from 7:00 - 8:30pm eastern time
August 12, August 26, and September 9
Maximum 20 people
General outline of the session topics:
Session 1: Ethical foraging, selecting and prepping fiber, WOF, mordanting
Session 2: Extracting dye from various organisms, preserving natural dyestuffs, pH modification
Session 3: Dyeing, troubleshooting unexpected results, iron for color modification
Master Class: 3 online group video sessions for advanced dyers and professional fiber artists
This will be a project-based series for more advanced dyers and fiber artists to get support with using your own grown and foraged natural dyes, including working with homegrown indigo. If you've taken my in-person workshops before and want some motivation to use your skills in your own studio, you are very welcome to join! I hope and expect there will be much knowledge sharing between participants. Feel free to contact me in advance to discuss your project and decide if these sessions are right for you.
Three Thursdays 7:00 - 9:00pm eastern time
August 13, August 27, and September 10
Maximum 8 people
General format for sessions:
Session 1: Discussion of individual projects and interests and collaboratively sharing ideas for structuring process and setting up dye experiments
Session 2: Process check in, sharing samples and tests, troubleshooting
Session 3: Final check in, sharing results, reflecting on the 6 weeks of work
Undyed wool, alpaca, silk, or blends of animal fibers. Yarn, fabric and roving will all work. The quantity depends on how much you want to dye, but keep in mind that you will need more natural dye material than you think to get rich shades on your fiber. I like winding 10 gram mini skeins of yarn for my samples. My preference is for locally produced fiber to join with locally foraged dyes, so check around where you are to see if there are any farms selling their own yarn.
Tools and Supplies list
These are the items you'll need to start dyeing with natural dyes. I'm including links to ProChem and Botanical Colors for some items, but they can be purchased from many different places.
From the thrift shop, tag sale, or the back of your closets.. Stuff that can be dedicated to dyeing: