Berkeley Botanic Garden
October 6, 2009
The story begins with a snapshot of the end of the day. A walk in the dye garden, gave us all the opportunity to see the alive and growing source of natural color in such species as- calliopsis, alkanet, indigo, and madder. These are the reds, blues, yellows- that we can all plant in our gardens.
A pleasure and an honor- these are the words that express my experience at the Berkeley Botanic Garden. The class of 19 was composed of an array of talented individuals- some longtime fiber lovers, professionals, students, mothers, teachers- and the very welcome participation of Maya, who is four I believe, and had already had her hand in a few dye vats before this workshop. The group explored possibility, and moved through moments of creative mystery- and doubt, to compose what became true natural dye triumphs.
I did somehow have faith, that yes, the fermentation indigo vat would travel- and make it to the workshop without oxidizing… This scarf is a testament to the little blue vat that could, all the way up Marin Street- one of the steepest hills outside of San Francisco.
The class community was so delicate with the vat, and so appreciative of its offering, I think it might have made a comeback based on all the love it received. Fermentation is yes, a science, and also, a process that is totally alive and responsive.
The newest addition in my search for appropriate technology- brought me serendipitously into contact with the incredible Stovetech company. With the use of small bits of wood, this lightweight stove heats water faster than my hotplates, or my gas stove, with a lower carbon footprint than both of my traditional heat sources. This stove makes natural dyeing an even greater pleasure. I will be writing more about this in a later post, but wanted to introduce it to you here!
The re-visiting of the solar vat, such a gentle and lovely way to make flower dye
The botanic garden visitors are seen taking photos of the class’s work- the dry lines were a soft and fluttering gallery of color. The pink silk in the foreground came from the stalks of horsetail.
Another way to create color- the flower pound. A process aptly named Hapa-zome, by India Flint.. This is the human-powered approach.
The pounders at work
The horsetail bath was saturated with wool, silk, and hemp. Dr. Sara Gottfried and her daughter Maya stand by to check on their work.
A multiple color layer sample emerges. The creativity progresses as the day moves on, and the comfort level with experimentation increases..
End of the day outcomes. Using what we call stars and stripes shibori patterns, with color provided by black walnut, and I believe horsetail, maybe toyon…
A big thank you to Deepa Natarajan whose vision, and hard-work brought this event into being, to my brother whose professional photography always amazes me, to Sara and Maya for coming again, and to all the participants who came from near, and some very far, to make it to this all-day process. If you have questions, or want any dye tips, or support please email me when needed!
For more pictures of your dye day you can go to Michael’s Smug Mug Site.