Sunday, January 29, 2012

Beautiful Cloth

Rainbow dyed Habotai 
While at Arrowmont in 2005, I took an intense 
week-long Shibori dyeing workshop. At that time, 
was painting, sandblasting and building stained glass windows. 
Dyeing and fiber weren't on my radar at all. In fact, 
I distinctly recall standing in the work room wondering 
what the heck I was doing there! (Don't worry, I figured it out.)
Mokume shibori on shantung
  Continuing to dye for a few more years, I reached a point   
where I no longer wanted to tread the path of synthetic 
commercial dyes. I learned about the company Earth Hues 
and discovered the world of green dyeing.
Arashi shibori on habotai
What has me walking down memory lane & pulling out my fabrics?
This past week my dear friend Marjorie gave me a gift
by India Flint (what a power house!) 

It's just like Marjorie to know exactly what to give.
The book brings together my love of dyeing, my interest in 
dye traditions the world over, and my penchant for 
constructing things, especially garments and quilts. 
That "green" and "sustainable" are the cornerstones 
of India Flint's work is the icing on the cake. 
For the next two mornings I soaked up every page 
of Eco Colour. Feeling re-energized about green dyeing 
and the potentialI knew that as soon as the snow melts 
I'd need an outdoor dye lab and all that goes with it, 
from a dyer's garden to a fire pit. 
Well, that same day I spent some time Pinning 
and this appeared:

Kantha cloth, color, patterns, & textures - they all feel like home. 
They speak to me as much as Alabama Chanin's work, as much as 
silk garments from the 1500-1800's, as much as any 
beautifully crafted garment. 
*Sensory overload*
So, rather than sewing bags, toys or quilts for the shop today, 
I'm taking a delightful detour researching & drawing, 
plotting & planning my summer time "green" endeavor. 
What fabric confections will I create? 
How will I fashion my outdoor dye lab? 
What seeds should I order? 
Where to hunt for iron and aluminum pots? 
When the snow melts, I can hunt on the ground for 
fallen branches and decaying leaves. 
I don't know how this sounds to you, but to me it's all very exciting. 

My dear friend Marjorie
Thank you Marjorie for setting in motion 
what will surely be a lovely "green" summer!

If you're a green dyer or have a dyer's garden, 
I'd love any tips, advice or experiences you can offer. 


  1. I have no dyeing experience other than tie-dyed t-shirts made way back in junior high--I just want to say your fabrics are beautiful!

  2. I'd know that smiling face anywhere, and am not in the least bit surprised that Marjorie has provided your most recent inspiration! I know that wonderful things are on the horizon!

  3. Thank you both for your support and words of encouragement! I'm excited to employ so many of the techniques in Eco Colour, as well as to play around and see what I can do with the resulting cloth. I will definitely share my progress!

  4. Such beautiful fabric! Ive used black hollyhocks, marigolds and blackeyed susans to dye with. The black hollyhocks gave purpleish gray leaning towards mauve. The marigold dye gave neon yellow. And the susans came out light green.

  5. Lara, thank you so much for sharing your results from flowers(that likely came from your own garden!) I will definitely put black hollyhocks and marigolds on my seed list. I have no shortage of black eyed susans. ;) Were you dyeing cotton, silk, wool, a mix?

  6. Thank you for the book review (what a sweet friend you have). I this a subject I have not got into yet but hope to one day!! Clarice

    1. Clarice, if you and your daughters want to experiment with natural dyes, Earth Hues is right in probably know of it. Think of the costumes, or mixed media pieces the three of you could make!

  7. I am loving this train of thought...and action! I have heard that sumac makes a great chartreuse [my favorite color ]and a delicious tea...tastes lemony and I know where we can gather some black walnut nuts for an experiment..we just have to introduce ourselves to the current residents of 3145 Cosmos Hill Road...they have 6 of the most beautiful black walnut trees around these parts...ask me how I know!

    when I was in New Mexico I bought a woolen weaving of the face of an Indian Chief...the colors are mauves, purples, and hot pinks and the woman at the Laguna Pueblo said that there would be no more weavings in those natural colors because the weavers couldn't find the natural plants that they used anymore. So now they would have to use chemical colors. I believe that they are the Zolpac Indians from Mexico who did the weaving.The colors are soft and gentle.

  8. Thanks for the dye info. You tell great stories....and I absolutely know how you know about those walnut trees. :) Thank you again! xo