August 27, 2010
I spent the early afternoon across the Bay in the backyard of Dr. Sara Gottfried, to give her a dye garden consult and provide her with some materials for eco-painting exploration. She had some lovely organic cotton shopping bags ready for adornment. Her woad crop was looking incredible– and her sticky monkey flower was in full orange bloom. Since our last consult a year ago, she’s been busily cultivating her dye plants. Our meeting, this time, was focused on playing with new applications– particularly the use of natural dye paint…
Dr. Sara’s work is focused on helping women and men to live holistic and healthy lives.
It’s pretty well known that our everyday exposure to synthetic compounds has been creating some serious health impacts. Dr. Sara’s patients, which are everyday folks–show the signs, within their own bodies, of an environment that is pretty chalk full of things they cannot process healthfully. And for this reason she is committed to learning and incorporating natural and non-toxic ways of living into her own life–and inspiring others to do the same.
Natural dyes are one element, of a multi-thronged approach to shifting our personal practices towards the promotion of vitality– and health– for us, and the planet.
It is elderberry season– I brought this harvest to Dr. Sara’s house, so that she and her daughters could make an elderberry dye bath together. Elderberry on cotton creates lovely shades of lavender. We discussed the possibility of naturally dyed nurses robes.
Creating a healthier environment for ourselves, means resourcing and revitalizing our use of natural substances that we humans have had relationships with for eons.
Even good old cow manure, has a use beyond natural garden fertilizer. We mixed it with hot water, stirred, and made paint. We were certainly not the first to do this. The manure of herbivorous animals has been used as a mordant (binder), a paint, a dye, and fuel source for open fires, for as far back as records are available.