In the spring of 2012, the UNT Fiber Department hosted a workshop with Sasha Duerr, a professor at California College of the Arts and co-founder of Permacouture Institute. During the workshop Sasha shared the magic of using our environment to cultivate a wide range of beautiful natural colors.
We took a walk around the campus, collecting fallen acorns and tree bark, dandelions, and rosemary. We tightly wrapped our foraged bits in strips of silk and steamed them for an hour or so. Afterwards, we unwrapped the "eco-bundles" to reveal color, pattern and texture emitted from our findings.
The experience with Sasha's workshop sparked an interest with a small group of students and I. We learned about the We Mean Green Fund and decided to make a plan to create a Natural Dye Garden on UNT's campus. We were interested in using the garden for educational opportunities within the community and exploring collaborative uses for the dyes in all areas of the College of Visual Arts and Design. In order to bring our plan into fruition, we spent months perfecting a written grant proposal, sketching proposed layouts of the plants in the garden, and researching which plants would thrive in our dry Texas climate.
Researching natural dyes was personally very special to me. My late grandmother was a traditional fiber artist and used natural dyes for her fiber that she hand-spun and wove. In researching for this proposal, I sorted through old boxes and binders, reading her hand written recipes for natural dyes she had used.