Teacher Training at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center

April 27, 2010

Teachers from around the Bay Area made their way to the far reaches of Occidental California for their first class in native plant natural dye work.  The class included an extensive presentation on land-use philosophy and process, weaving developmentally appropriate story and props into the classroom, and most importantly–the use of dye vats!

The class was full of interesting stories- and personal histories.  Many of the participants had created positions for themselves over the years as garden coordinators; feeling the draw to move out of the classroom and onto the land had motivated many to create and maintain school gardens.  The natural dye work, and the native plants are a useful adjunct to any garden curricula.  The hope is that all of our educational gardens will begin to illuminate not only food, but fiber, and color as well.

All of the teachers brought strips and samples of cotton fabric. I was teaching how you could do this in a school setting without high costs!

The toyon took well to the cotton.  We mordanted the same day that we dyed, and our results were quite good.  In schools- sometimes you’ll have the time to prep your materials, and sometimes it all might have to get done on the same day– seeing the mordant process is a great learning experience for the children and adults.

Great materials for plant pounding!  Also a great activity for the pre-schoolers.  The teachers who work with the little ones, were quite happy with this project.  The use of rocks instead of mallets was discovered– another great way to make it accessible to many children at one time.

One of my absolute favorite native species–CA sagebrush, proved to be as lovely pounded, as it is in the dye vat.  This was a great experiment, with incredible results.

2 Responses to “Teacher Training at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center”

  1. Sweetpea Says:

    What a FABULOUS post…I so wish I lived closer (or had big wings!) so that I could participate in some of these wonderful dyeing activities – I could learn so much! I think the colors derived from plants are exquisite.

  2. velma Says:

    teaching teachers! nice connections to curricula…

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