Natural Dye.

Natural Dye.

There never seems to be a shortage of fun activities to do in the fall. As it flies by (which it always seems to do in the Midwest) we do our best to take advantage of time outside, observing and honoring nature’s wise rhythms. Dyeing with plants is a fun and fascinating way to preserve the miraculous beauty of summer and fall.

One of the coolest aspects of using natural dyes is the low cost of dye materials. They can be wildcrafted, grown in your garden, or collected from the kitchen’s compost. A lot of native trees, perennial plants, as well as common annual flowers and herbs, make fabulous dyes. So, your options for color are quite varied!

Here are just a few of the many regional sources for natural dye:

black walnut
apple tree leaves and bark
onion skin
avocado skin and pit
sunflower head
black eyed susan
sumac flower

And that’s really just scratching the surface.

After gathering dye materials, one must bring together fire, water, metal (or a mordant), natural fibers (from plants or animals) and time to initiate a truly beautiful alchemical process. All of these elements and factors can be modified to create different dye outcomes. Different fibers take on hues differently depending on what mordants and plants are used. So, no two hand dyed garments are ever really alike. Dyeing with plants is a way to allow the plants to express themselves, and preserve their beauty in a special way.

Join Delight Flower Farm and local educator Nora Love on Saturday, October 22 from 1-3 PM at the farm for a natural dye workshop! We will be dyeing with marigolds, and experimenting with using alum as a mordant. Bring an item of clothing to dye – it’s best if the garment is made of a natural fiber (wool, cotton, hemp, silk, linen, etc.) and is already light colored. Come ready to harvest marigolds, and dye clothes over an open fire!

The cost of the class is $20 at “the door,” but scholarships are available. Email if you’re interesting in a scholarship opportunity. The farm is located at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery at 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, IL 61822

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