Last week Chelsea Heffner of Wild Craft Studio School came to teach a natural dyeing class on the farm. Chelsea, Kara and I, along with eleven other women, gathered spent flowers like safflower, marigolds, zinnias and sunflowers. We ripped the flowers into small pieces and threw them in a pot of water. We stirred the pots like a witch's brew while they heated on stoves.
We then added yarn from the longest-running sheep ranch and wool producer in Oregon, as well as silk swatches. These fabrics had what is called a mordant (which comes from the French word for bite) or fixative. This can be anything from acid, like vinegar or iron, to alkaline, like alum, and each changes what the ultimately dye will look like on the fabric. For example, the alum fabrics were much lighter in color than the iron ones. Most of us experimented with the shibori technique of twisting and wrapping fabric to create different patterns once you dye them. We then saturated our fabrics in water and put them into the dye pots and waited for the magic to happen.
I used a zinnia dye path with an alum silk tied in random shibori-esque fashion. Then I dipped one half in the marigold dye bath. The zinnia, although bright and very colorful as a cut flower in the field, dyed a muted minty green. The marigold, as you may have guessed, was bright golden yellow. Kara used the sunflower bath with a shibori tied alum silk and got a beautiful purple grey with lines of bright pink where the fabric had been tied. Chelsea, the master, was very excited to use safflower for the first time. Although its petals are bright shades of orange the safflower created an unexpected yellow versus what the books promise a bright pink and orange. We were held captive by the mystery that lies in plants.
Not only did we have our flower field deadheaded and revitalized for the season we also met women from all over the country inspired by the beauty and magic of plants. We were able to share our field in a gathering of craft and exploration of nature.
Thank you to all who came out and let's do it again soon!
IN THIS WEEK'S CSA BOX:
carrots thyme jalapeno pepper curly kale green cabbage cucumber salad broccoli squash purple top turnips
IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:
flax seed pods, nigella flowers and/or seed pods (devil in a bush), celosia, ageratum, feverfew, foxgloves, statice, craspedia, didiscus, globe amaranth, snap dragons, bells of ireland, pincushion, scabiosa stellata pod, yarrow, zinnia and rudbeckia