Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Next month I will teach my first workshop, which leaves me feeling both rattled and excited. I was asked to do a two hour class on natural dyes as part of a short course called Gardening with Mr. Jefferson: Sustaining an independent nation with useful plantsoffered to University of Virginia students. The course will take place at Thomas Jefferson Demonstration Garden and will cover a range of topics such as plant-based textiles and dyes, year around gardening, and sustainable growing and living.

We will create a few small dyed samples in the workshop (two hours is not a long time in the natural dye world) and the colors will be extracted from plants growing in the demonstration garden. I have experimented with tansy, hops, sumac, and artemisia, so far. All with beautiful results in their own right. It will be hard to choose which ones to finally include in the class.

This will be my first teaching experience, if you don't count assisting in my son's third grade art class. I have some basic knowledge about dyeing with plants by now, but I am no expert by any means. For me natural dyeing is about achieving something beautiful by using natural resources at hand, and to appreciate the loveliness in subtleties and imperfections. These are values I learned from my teachers, India Flint, and Rowland Ricketts, and I hope I can pass some of the same ideas along to my students.


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