Sunday, May 6, 2012

Natural Women, Natural Fiber Dyeing

Unbelievably beautiful weekend at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden!  I went with my friend Austin, who was birthday gifting me with a class taught by the amazing Rebecca Burgess.  Rebecca teaches about safe sustainable fabric/fiber dyeing with local indigenous plants.  She is as eco-thought provoking and inspiring as she is talented and intelligent.  

We brought our own mordanted fibers - some of my hand spun merino singles - and were thrilled with the variety of colors we got from the six pots of natural dyes.  

Rebecca also showed us a couple of Shibori techniques on silk strips, which created really lovely and unique patterns. 

A big wooden bowl full of Rebecca's color sample yarns.
Rebecca Burgess lecturing as we begin the hands on demos.
Indigenous plants for natural dyeing: Toyon, Coffee Bean Plant, CA Sage, and the funniest of all - Sticky Monkey Flower!
Silk strips, natural wool skeins, and a basket of six varieties of natural cloths: cotton varieties, hemp, and more silk.
A copper pot filled with 180 degree water and Coreopsis (related to the Sunflower) which will yield bright orange fabrics/fibers.
And what could be more natural than drying your fibers and fabrics after their dye bath on the hedges?
Another technique Rebecca shared is the pounding method to extract colors from flowers that would not work in a dye bath process.
This method doesn't create a saturated dye effect, but has infinite design possibilities!

If you ever get the chance to take Rebecca's workshop do not hesitate!  The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden sold out this workshop before they even got a chance to put it online for their members!  They are scheduling another one in July, so if you're interested this one will fill up fast:

And, if you can't make it to this class, treat yourself to Rebecca's amazing book "Harvesting Color":

You should also check out her FiberShed project.  This is someone who is allied with other artists to truly shift the paradigm of consumption in our cultural.

Well, I'm off to create some crazy batts with my commercially processed fibers - because I want to use them up and start over with all natural colors!  I am so deeply inspired by Rebecca...