Sasha Krieger
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I DYE

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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.

Cow parsley (anthriscus sylvestris). Photography by Sasha Krieger
Cow parsley (anthriscus sylvestris). Photography by Sasha Krieger
Cherry tree (prunus cerasus) with lichen. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Cherry tree (prunus cerasus) with lichen. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Lupine (lupinus). Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Lupine (lupinus). Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Simmering cow parsley. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Simmering cow parsley. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Simmering lichen. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Simmering lichen. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Simmering lupine. Photography by Sasha Krieger
Simmering lupine. Photography by Sasha Krieger
Wool in cherry bark dyebath. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Wool in cherry bark dyebath. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Wool in cow parsley dyebath. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Wool in cow parsley dyebath. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Wool dyed with cow parsley. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Wool dyed with cow parsley. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Wool dyed with cow parsley, lichen, cherry bark, and lupine. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Wool dyed with cow parsley, lichen, cherry bark, and lupine. Photograph by Sasha Krieger

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.

Final results. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Final results. Photograph by Sasha Krieger

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.


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