Natural Dyes and Home Dyeing
The world around me; forests, gardens, and roadsides, is full of potential dyestuff. I forage for cow parsley, lichen, cherry bark, and lupine and set to work extracting colour from plants. All wool is treated with an alum mordant, an aluminum potassium sulfate that helps animal fibres accept and hold dye. Cream of tartar is added to the mordant to brighten colours.
I feel like a chemist. I boil plants and simmer wool in dyebaths, waiting with anticipation to see what colours emerge.
Cow parsley produces an acid yellow. Lichen scrapped from my family’s cherry tree results in a golden reddish-brown. The bark from the cherry tree produces a similar mustard colour. From blue lupine flowers, I extract an array of greyish-greens. I mix and layer dyes until I have an array of natural tones.
Experimenting with natural dyes creates an intimacy with my environment and materials. There is a difference between going to a shop to purchase supplies and labouring to produce those materials yourself. I long to have control and ownership over every component of the weaving process. My time spent dyeing wool causes me to appreciate colour and material in a new way. I am excited and trepidatious to begin a large weaving.
Want more? Read Sasha’s previous posts, I Begin and I Weave a Metaphor.
Also read our Online Artists Residency launch article and this accompanying article, that looks at the project and the artist who are the inspiration for OAR.
Sasha Krieger is currently VANDOC’s Online Resident Artist. Be sure to return to vandocument.com to get the latest updates on her exploration of her process as she learns the loom and discovers the unexpected along the way.
Sasha Krieger is an artist, library assistant, and collector from Vancouver, BC. Her diverse practice combines and deconstructs images and ideas borrowed from film, literature and art history, in an attempt to explore how meaning is derived from making.