At the Museum of Arts and Design, I took a natural dyeing class. It was a fun experience and I was so happy to be here. I am always attracted to the natural approach to any process and to the avoidance of chemicals whenever possible, so that this class was up my alley. My favorite magazine’s Fall issue, Do It Yourself, had a whole section on natural dyeing and this class was an excellent opportunity to learn more. The instructor, Isa Rodrigues, is a resident artist at the museum and is the director of adult programs at the Brooklyn Textile Arts Center.

The actual process is easy and requires very little supply. Large pots, strainer and bowls, containers, mordants and different materials for plants. The murderers act as a bridge between fiber and colour.



natural dye materials

The plant materials are shredded into the pots to which water is added.



 

flower petals

flower petals

This mixture is heated and turned off before it reaches a boiling temperature.

flower petals in boiling water

flower petals in boiling water

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.

natural dye swatches



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.

pokeberry tryptic


pokeberry tryptic

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.

natural paint swatch

natural paint swatch



What do you think? Do your find natural dyes and paints intriguing? Have you tried either one before?