Friday, May 20, 2011

Dye Workshops This Summer

working the black walnut vat over an open fire

yarrow flowerheads in the vat

skeins drying

more skeins drying

tweaking the urine vat

indigo skeins oxidizing

a mother and her two daughters who came to a summer dye class

removing yarn from the saxon's blue vat

a day's work drying on the line

skeins drying at the Twin Pond Retreat workshop last summer

The warmer weather is here in north central Vermont, and that means it's time to do some outdoor dyeing!

We'll be offering three different natural dye workshops here at the school, and another at the Twin Pond Retreat Center in Brookfield, VT.

The Cotton & Linen class will be held on June 18th & 19th. The primary dyes for this class will be indigo, fustic, cutch, cochineal, brazilwood and logwood. The pre-mordanting of cotton and linen will be covered in depth as this step is crucial in achieving a lasting and deep color. We will sample some of the colors used in the 18th & 19th c. called Prussian Blue, Egyptian Purple and Iron Buff.

The Wool & Silk class will be held on July 9 & 10. In this two day workshop we will not only sample a variety of colors but also actually dye quantities of yarn for future weaving projects. The primary dyes will be indigo, madder, fustic, cutch, cochineal, brazilwood and logwood. With the use of different mordants and overdyeing we will achieve some of the long forgotten colors of Bottle Green, Venetian Scarlet and Saxon Blue.

On July 23 & 24 we will be offering a new Indigo Dyeing Intensive. This two day workshop will feature the preparation and use of four different indigo vats: lye/hydrosulfite, copperas, zinc lime, and the traditional urine (or sig) vat. On Day One, each of these vats will be set up from scratch and then used to dye cotton, linen and wool yarns, as well as fabric. Day Two will focus on the traditional Japanese and African resist techniques - Kasuri, Shibori, and Plangi.

Last year Kate taught a course in Dyeing With Locally Grown Plants at the Twin Pond Retreat Center. Kate & I will be teaching there again this year on the weekend of August 27 & 28. This two day class will focus on using only the dye materials that can be grown or harvested from the wild here in Central Vermont. The dye garden at the school now has madder, woad, weld, alkanet, dyer's greenwood, tansy and a wide range of yellow flower dyestuffs. We will collect flowers in the wild, tree barks, nut hulls and some different roots. The mordants will primarily be alum and iron but we will achieve a wide color range by overdyeing and color mixing. For more information about this course, or to register, you can contact Twin Pond directly through their website.

These classes are a lot of fun, and some very jam-packed experiential learning as well. From picking fresh plant material in our dye gardens and alongside country dirt roads, to all the mordanting, vat set-ups, and skein preparation, the actual dyeing process is a fabulous three-ring-circus of mysterious and marvelous natural chemical process.

It's still early, so there is still space available in each of these courses, but if you're interested, don't delay in getting in touch with us to sign up, as they do fill quickly.

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