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a botanical journey

Updated: May 21, 2019

Every so often, I feel the need for a change, and the desire to learn something new. Last summer, the stars aligned and in the mail came a brochure for the local art workshop program. As I leafed through the classes, a ‘botanical dyeing for book artists’ class caught my eye.

Coincidentally, I had wanted to start making books again and this class would push me to implement a new technique into my current artistic practice.

The first day of class we learned how to prepare fabric for dyeing, collected plants and leaves and made dye swatches. We extracted dye from pokeberry (a subtle pink), apple/pear tree leaves (yellow), wildflower mix (orangey-yellow), and black walnuts (rich brown) to name a few. Our teacher, Natalie, was so passionate; there was no way not to be captivated and feel the need to learn everything I possibly could.

Fast forward to 2018, I had made it a point to take one or two new classes a year. This time around, I enrolled in ‘screen printing for textile designers’ taught by Emily.

During Emily’s class, I kind of had an epiphany – how to incorporate all the processes I loved (printmaking, textiles and natural botanical dyeing) into one cohesive piece.

The images you see here are my botanical dye batches – cabbage, pear/apple leaves, avocado pit and skin, coreopsis. I gathered these plants from my garden (with the exception of the avocado & cabbage, though I do have cabbage in the garden), processed the botanicals to create the dye, and threw in the silk.

This project will be taking shape over the next month or so, and I am so excited for you to see what these silks will become.

Botanicals I plan to experiment with include – goldenrod, elderberry, those wild blue flowers (they are everywhere around the Berkshires!), nasturtium (I’ve tried before, they made a very pale yellow & I want to see if I can push the color), and mixing other dye plants with onions to see what ranges in color I can achieve.

What new techniques have you tried this past year?


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