Late Summer into Fall…

September 25, 2011

Beginning with a late summer workshop at the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, California, we played with freshly harvested sage, coreopsis (bright orange), and an early harvest of toyon and coffeeberry… with a bit of sheep sorrel in the mix.

The class was focused on experimenting with seawater as a mordant.  We harvested from the ocean early in the morning and compared our results between the salty sea pre-treatments with the effects of alum and iron.  The seawater held its own.. the brightness of the dye vats was not diluted by the use of the ocean minerals.  One of the Fibershed designers– Ashley Brock (left) is seen with her indigo and cutch dyed tunic, and wool pendant.

Erin Reilly of the Regenerative Design Institute with Dustin Kahn (Fibershed’s marketplace creator), rinse samples in the newly renovated greenhouse.  The new space is so warm and perfectly lit for dye workshops, with a perfect amount of burners for all the dye vats!

Local wool yarns from Tennessee Valley in Southern Marin were dipped in the various dye pots as well as modified with wood ash from the wood burning stove.  This wonderful participant will be going back to her Waldorf school with new recipes for the children to try–(such a joy to teach other teachers, knowing the plant recipes will travel through the generations and other institutions).

A botanic experiment in the works with a father and daughter duo.

It was off to Pennsylvania not long after enjoying the coastal beauty of Northern California.  Amish country awaited.  Rolling cultivated hills, covered in green, dappled with goldenrod, poke and elderberry, a wonder for any dye loving human being.

The Western Pennsylvania landscape is beautifully maintained by the Amish, a fully remarkable society of people who have made a very strong commitment to a set of values that harken to pre-industrial past.

The workshop took place at the Nature Center at Westminster College.  Professors from various disciplines have come together in the name of a new and powerful environmental studies program, I came to teach and support their endeavor– by bringing the sciences and the arts together via natural dye making.  The dinner conversations wove through subjects of Robert Hass, banning poly bisphenol, protecting fresh water resources, and the joys of living in such a grounded small American town.

Pokeberry bliss…. the color is so beautiful, the plant so generous.. we dubbed it, our ‘North American cochineal.’

 A black-eyed susan sits above a coreopsis dyed cotton with stripes of printed homemade alum acetate.  Students loved using their magnetic stirrers and following simple ‘green’ chemistry instructions to create their own bonding agents.

Fingers and hands stained…..

The subtle effects of an acetate and leaf print on a coreopsis cotton dipped in a pH modifier of ash and water.

Thank you Westminster, Peggy Cox, and all the organizers, students, and participants who created such an incredible foundation for a wonderful series of classes and talks.  I am forever changed having been exposed to this peaceful place.