Native Dyes in the Commons

August 12, 2009


The West Marin Commons hosted a natural dye workshop in their wonderful new native forb garden. Amongst the coyote brush, toyon, Point Reyes checkerbloom, mugwort, and farewell to spring blossoms- a group of 15 adults and four children made use of 100% locally harvested plant dye vats. This was a day of working with what was available-  colors such as vibrant yellow, light and brighter orange, soft sage green, and deep brown, emerged from our vats of bee plant, toyon, sage, eucalyptus, fennel, and tickseed coreopsis. This workshop had the unique and added benefit of the most exquisite lunch, and dessert, whose ingredients were so good, and so many I would probably not be able to list them correctly! Thank you Stacy. As the workshop tailed off, Elizabeth Barnet brought huge cabbages, chard, and broccoli from her garden/farm, for us all to take home. The experience was rich in a feeling of community and connection with the land we share.

We also learned about rust dyeing, and how to make leaf prints with the help of found iron objects.  This process requires a little longer than one day, and I do have a few items that were left behind- they turned out beautifully.  If anyone is missing a little piece of hemp cotton fleece wrapped around a single maple leaf, let me know- I have it and can return it to you- its lovely. Many of the participants, including the children found success with the hapa-zome process, which is an easy way to make eco-prints, from common plants such as pansies, cosmos, borage, cota, and red geraniums.

IMG_3575The beauty of black walnut, and Artemesia californica, mixed in with a little coyote brush.  The colors on this piece were astonishing. Each workshop a some pieces are created for which I have little explanation for.  They emerge out of the vats and they just take my breath away.  The alchemy of the personal creativity, and the plant colors, forge a new aesthetic, one that I never see repeated.


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