I have many reasons why I have chosen to use natural dyes. I have studied herbal/ plant medicine for 20 years, and always had an affinity for growing things. When I was first learning to weave 15 years ago, I was fascinated by the choices of creating the colors for which I would work and began to learn how to dye. I used acid dyes for proteins and fiber reactive for my bast fibers. I liked that the colors were so rich, and I could repeat with precision to continue to get what I wanted. I could get many shades of the same color. This is why industry has taken to this form of dyeing. When my first child was born, I went to learning about natural dyes. I was more hypersensitive to the things that my family was consuming in all aspects of our lives. From that point on, I have been hooked. I personally love the color palette that comes with natural dyes. I love the alchemy involved, and the learning process. It isn't as easy as just following one recipe and having results. I love the depth to the history, and I get to go back to my original love of working with plants and I truly look at many of these dyes as medicine.
The art of natural dyeing predates written records and played a huge role in trade history and exploration. In
ancient times, fabrics dictated the colors of the specific region. I like to bring this same aesthetic into the work that I make. Growing and harvesting the dyes of my region brings a color palette specific to my home in Western North Carolina.
Natural dyeing of fibers can be obtained through careful use of roots, barks, flowers, leaves, nuts, mushrooms, lichen and insects. Some of the plants that I grow include Black Eyed Susan, Bloodroot, Bronze Fennel, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Dyer’s Chamomile, Dyer’s Coreopsis Hops, Hollyhock, Japanese Indigo, Lady’s Bedstraw, Madder, Marigold, Purple Basil, St. John’s Wort, Sunflowers, Tansy, Weld, and Woad.