I took a natural dyeing class at the Museum of Arts and Design. It was a fun experience and I was so glad I attended. I am always drawn to the natural approach to any process and the avoidance of chemicals whenever possible so this class was right up my alley. The Fall 2014 issue of my favorite magazine, Do It Yourself, had a whole section on natural dyeing and this class was a great opportunity to learn even more. The instructor, Isa Rodrigues, is an artist in residence at the museum and is the Adult Programs Director at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn.
The actual process is simple and requires very little in terms of supplies. Large pots, strainer and bowls, containers, mordants and various plant materials. Mordants act as a bridge between the fiber and the dye.
The plant materials are shredded into the pots to which water is added.
This mixture is heated and turned off before it reaches a boiling temperature.
The plant material is strained from the liquid to which the mordant treated fabric is placed into the strained liquid.
The mixture is being stirred gently to ensure even coverage. After a half hour and a great question and answer exchange with the instructor, the dyed swatches that looked like this.
The cotton and silk fabrics received the dye differently; the silk resulted in a more brilliant color while the cotton swatches had a more dull and muted appearance.
Here is the dye process using pokeberries. Although toxic to humans if ingested, it appears to have medicinal qualities when cooked.
What I love about this process is that it is highly experimental and the results aren’t always predictable. It requires a trial and error approach and is sure to take full advantage of one’s creative abilities.
By the way, you can also make natural paints as well. I attended a free class hosted by The Textile Arts Center. Here is my swatch card from the class. The same paint was used on both sides; however, the right side was primed with Gesso. It was very informative, as well, and it opened up a new set of creative doors for me.
What do you think? Do your find natural dyes and paints intriguing? Have you tried either one before?