summer 2016 workshops in & around LA

Join me at one of these marvelous locations in and around Los Angeles this summer to learn a new natural dyeing skill, whether it be hunting for your own wild dyestuffs, or painting and bundle dyeing with plants!

Natural Bundle Dyeing at Makers Mess- sign up here

Sunday June 26- 1-3pm, $90

This workshop will introduce participants to the colorful world of natural dye plants, many of which are dual purpose edibles and have herbal/medicinal properties. You'll learn the water wise, mess free technique of bundle dyeing with natural dye expert and educator Liz Spencer. What's more, you'll learn techniques and actions that set her practice apart from other natural colorists, focusing on sustainability, working with local plants and environmental resiliency. Natural dye basics such as mordanting, extraction, and historical context will also be covered.

You'll be amazed at the colors attainable with natural substances! Each participant will leave with a large bundle dyed silk scarf, resources lists and instructional guide on how to repeat the process at home. No previous dyeing experience necessary.

 

Painting with Natural Dyes at Mar Vista Art Dept- sign up here

Wednesday July 6 7-9pm, $95

Using only natural dye stuffs and extracts you will gain knowledge and experiment with the direct application of paint onto cloth. The Dogwood Dyer's Liz Spencer will demonstrate the proper methods for achieving wash and light fast results with natural dyes and share her tips and secrets for advanced techniques using natural thickeners and resists. No previous dyeing knowledge necessary. Each participant will leave with various types of fabrics in a palette of natural colors, their own original painting compositions and a handout outlining natural dye painting techniques and recipes to recreate this beautiful art at home.

 

Local Color: Foraging & Natural Dye Workshop at Wild Mesa Topanga- sign up here

Sunday July 17 12-3:30pm, $110

Get to know the colorful bounty that your local area has to offer by working with fresh plants foraged from and grown in the nearby ecosystem with The Dogwood Dyer's Liz Spencer. Natural dyeing can be fun, but the experience of using seasonal & regionally relevant plants as opposed to pre-extracted and imported powders provides a real connection to this age old process. This class will start with a nature walk where we will explore the surroundings of Wild Mesa Topanga, identify plants and collect plants responsibly for the dyepot.

Students will come away with an understanding of natural dyeing with fresh raw dye stuffs, including the variance of color results from working with different parts of the plant, collected at different times of the harvest season as well as hue and depth change when extracting with hot vs. cold water. Liz will demonstrate her favorite surface design techniques including japanese stitched Shibori, Arashi and Itajime. No previous dyeing knowledge necessary. Each participant will leave with a folio palette of regional color swatches in various sustainable fibers, a finished 35 x 35" silk scarf dyed with local color as well as informational handouts on how to repeat the process at home with local plants.

workshops at Kremer Pigments

I am excited to announce that I will be hosting 2 new workshops at New York's beloved Kremer Pigments. They just so happen to be the best resource for natural dyers in NYC....apart from the Brooklyn Tree Guard dye beds built by The Dogwood Dyer and The Urban Landscape Company :)

Sign up soon before they fill!

painting on silk workshop with the dogwood dyer

$95

Using natural dye stuffs and extracts from Kremer Pigments' vast supply, you will gain knowledge and experiment with the direct application of paints made from natural dye plants and extracts. Each participant will leave with two 36"x 36" painted silk scarves and a handout outlining natural dye painting techniques and recipes to recreate this beautiful art at home.

Kremer Pigments has been discovering and redeveloping historical pigments since 1977. Their assortment consists of over 1000 different mineral pigments made from precious and semiprecious stones.

They carry the best industrially manufactured pigments for artistic painting, historical and modern binders, natural dyes, modern synthetic pigments, chemicals as well as additives. They are the best supplier of natural dyes in New York City! You will find more than you need to get started or continue your natural dyeing practice.

They are located in Manhattan att 247 W 29th St between 7th and 8th avenues.

sign up: www.thedogwooddyer.squarespace.com/shop

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$95

Using natural dye stuffs and extracts from Kremer Pigments' vast supply, you will gain knowledge and experiment with the time honored Japanese resist dye techniques: Itajime & Arashi. Each participant will leave with two 36"x 36" dyed silk scarves and a handout outlining natural dye techniques, resist techniques, and recipes to recreate this beautiful art at home.

Kremer Pigments has been discovering and redeveloping historical pigments since 1977. Their assortment consists of over 1000 different mineral pigments made from precious and semiprecious stones.

They carry the best industrially manufactured pigments for artistic painting, historical and modern binders, natural dyes, modern synthetic pigments, chemicals as well as additives. They are the best supplier of natural dyes in New York City! You will find more than you need to get started or continue your natural dyeing practice.

Kremer Pigments is located in Manhattan at 247 W 29th St between 7th and 8th avenues.

sign up: www.thedogwooddyer.squarespace.com/shop

fresh leaf indigo dyeing

I have quite a variety of natural dye plants growing in my Brooklyn tree guard planters, so only a portion of the space was reserved for indigo growing, resulting in a few indigo plants altogether.

A Brooklyn Tree Guard planter with many dye plants including hollyhock, coreopsis, black eyed susan, purple basil and indigo.

A Brooklyn Tree Guard planter with many dye plants including hollyhock, coreopsis, black eyed susan, purple basil and indigo.

Learn more about the Brooklyn Tree Guard here

With such a small amount of indigo to work with, fresh leaf dyeing is the perfect technique to easily reap the pigment rewards from my few precious plants. The resulting colors range from a light sky blue to sea foam aquas and jades. Fresh leaf dyeing has the advantage of no required additives or auxiliaries as well as the benefit of not requiring reduction (a process in vat indigo dyeing where the oxygen is removed from the solution in order to impart the blue pigment onto the fiber), so all around I highly recommend this method!

With a small amount of dyeing power, I have decided to breathe new life into a loved yet small staple of my wardrobe that has recently fallen victim to a few stubborn coffee stains: my pretty little wool tank top.

My wool tank top and those stubborn coffee stains

My wool tank top and those stubborn coffee stains

I scored this vintage, lightweight, 100% wool tank top at a thrift shop in upstate New York last year and have worn it through all four seasons continually. Wool really is amazing, and at the right weight, a garment made from wool can be the perfect temperature regulating, all season piece. Fresh leaf indigo dyeing is best done with animal fibers including silk and all types of wools and fleece. Cotton and other plant fibers won’t absorb the color as readily.
First I wetted out the wool top with water and let it soak for a good half hour to make sure it’s thoroughly wet. While it was soaking I gathered my tools and such to have everything ready for the dyeing.

All the necessary tools and my top soaking in water before dyeing.

All the necessary tools and my top soaking in water before dyeing.

It’s important to work quickly from harvest of the indigo to the dyeing as the leaves really must be quite fresh. No picking one day and waiting till the next to dye.

Then I went outside to my planters and cut the indigo stalks from one of my plants.

My japanese Indigo plant and the stalks after harvesting.

My japanese Indigo plant and the stalks after harvesting.

The leaves hold all the color potential so they must be separated from the stalks before dyeing.

The leaves after separating them from the stalks.

The leaves after separating them from the stalks.

After picking all the leaves from the stalks I placed them in a blender half full with very cold water. I emptied a full ice cube tray into the blender and let it melt, adding a bit more cold water after most had melted.

¾ worth of the indigo leaves in the blender with very cold water

¾ worth of the indigo leaves in the blender with very cold water

Before starting to blend I only added ¾ of the indigo leaves and set the blender on low for 1 minute, and then added the rest of the indigo leaves as it blended.

The indigo solution after blending well for 1minute and adding the remainder of the leaves.

The indigo solution after blending well for 1minute and adding the remainder of the leaves.

Then I quickly strained the indigo leaves out and set them aside to use for a reduced indigo process later.

Strained indigo leaf bits are saved to use for a later dye process after the fresh leaf dyeing

Strained indigo leaf bits are saved to use for a later dye process after the fresh leaf dyeing

With the solution strained and free of leafy bits that might have gotten caught in my fabric or yarn, I added the wool top and stirred it in the solution continually for 5 minutes to ensure that the color would be as even as possible.

Stirring the top in the strained indigo water solution for 3-5 minutes

Stirring the top in the strained indigo water solution for 3-5 minutes

Then came the magical moment where I pulled the top from the solution and exposed it to oxygen. This is when the color turns from yellowish green to aqua blue right before your eyes. I rinsed the top in cool water and hung it to dry.

The finished result of the vintage wool top (right) and some other pieces I dyed with the fresh indigo leaves. The aqua blue pieces of fabric in the middle are silk.

The finished result of the vintage wool top (right) and some other pieces I dyed with the fresh indigo leaves. The aqua blue pieces of fabric in the middle are silk.

And there you have it, fresh leaf indigo dyeing really is that easy! I’m excited to transition this favorite garment of mine renewed and fresh into a new season with the aid of my own locally grown natural dye plants.

natural dye workshops- september & october


NATURAL DYEING WITH LOCAL PLANTS

at the brand new, Brooklyn creative educational space

HANDS-ON-STUDIO by Shab Simon Alexander

Sunday, September 28, 2-4pm & Sunday, October 5, 12-4pm  $180

Learn how to identify wild dye plants and forage responsibly in Prospect Park, then use those plants to create beautiful dyed fabrics while learning about the intricacies of natural dyeing.

On day 1 you will learn to recognize wild dye plants as well as responsible foraging techniques & practices. The northeast has so much to offer! Learn the opportune months for specific plants & colors. Also find out which plants are best used fresh & which can be dried or frozen for later use. The experience of using in season & regionally relevant plants as opposed to dried, imported powders provides a real connection to this age old process. Class will meet in Prospect Park (if it’s raining we will meet in the Hands-On Studio). After a day of foraging, feel free to stay and join us for a picnic in the park -- friends and family are welcome!

On day 2 we will use the foraged dyestuffs and learn the methods of extracting color from plants as well as many of the natural dyer's secrets to color shifting and color fastness. Each students will get to make their own silk scarf. You will come away with a basic understanding of natural dyeing and have a whole new perspective on local plants and their uses. *all materials included, snacks provided, byob

signup... http://www.hands-on-studio.com/

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INDIGO & WOAD

at The Prospect Heights Community Farm

Sunday, October 11th 11am-3pm  $85

Learn three ways to prepare indigo and woad, including from fresh leaves grown in the garden.  Multiple organic indigo dye vats, organic US grown and spun cotton yarn, and cotton fabric will be provided to workshop participants.  Participants should bring a pair of dishwashing gloves and wear old clothes/shoes.

Prospect Heights Community Farm has been a community resource since 1998.  The garden is part of the Brooklyn Alliance of Neighborhood Gardens, the Open Space Institute, GreenThumb, and Green Bridge. The garden welcomes new members at its seasonal monthly meetings and the public is welcome whenever the gates are open.

signup... http://phcfdye.brownpapertickets.com/