Folk Fibers Blog

  • Natural Dye Workshop

    I understand where I am coming from; taking the talent and potential I was born with, and have since developed, now using it fully toward a goal and purpose that makes me and those around me happy. 

    A couple months before we moved to Austin, Chap and I came here for a week to secure a place to live and seek employment. I prepared for this visit by applying to a position as an Assistant Kindergarden Teacher at the Austin Waldorf School. After a few phone calls it became clear that the school decided to hire internally, but the conversation didn't stop there. The lead teacher and I had a great connection over the phone and she encouraged me to come by for a visit despite the position being filled. The connections made back then have proven to be wonderful even now. We loosely stayed in touch and just this month I was called to aid in leading a natural dye workshop for an early childhood training program called LifeWays. I absolutely adore the guiding values of Waldorf education; a life-long love of learning, creative thinking and self-confidence, a sympathetic interest in the world and the lives of others, and an abiding sense of moral purpose.  

    Melba, Bridget, and I worked as a team to prepare and facilitate the workshop. We worked with 5 different dye pots, indigo, osage orange, brazil wood, madder root, and cochineal. Below is a photo of Bridget folding a yellow silk scarf dyed with osage orange. 

    Always wet your fabric thoroughly before you place it in a dye pot. 

    We used camping stoves to heat the dye pots and wooden spoons to retrieve the fabric from the bath.  

    After brewing the dyes, and before placing the fabric in the pots, the dye bath must be strained. 
    It is helpful to line the colander with cheesecloth, the dye stuff can be reused again.  

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  • Comments on this post (8 comments)

    • BekahK says...

      Did you use a mordant with any of these? Or does thid assortment not require mordants?

      On April 10, 2015

    • Pat M says...

      Hi Maura! What a treat to come across this today. Your quilts, fabrics, colors, photos … and your heart … are all so beautiful. Hope our paths cross again. Best wishes to you!

      On February 19, 2014

    • Nichole says...

      What a small world. After reading about your work in Martha Stewart, I started following you on Instagram. I live in Georgetown and I’m absolutely awed and inspired by your work —especially the harvesting aspect of it all. A couple of years ago, i participated in this lifeways training, (but didn’t attend the summer you held the dyeing workshop). Long story short, Melba is a gem! And do you ever give workshops? I have a nature based/ homeschool/ Montessori community and I just know that my mamas would love getting together to do learn more! Thanks! Nichole Chigoy

      On January 31, 2014

    • Rebecca Lucas says...

      I was wondering your advice,

      I am trying to dye some paper blue naturally, however Indigo seems very complicated…. Are there any other plants you have seen or had good luck with producing blues?

      On October 18, 2013

    • Krystin says...

      The dye workshop looks like it was really fun! I would love to learn how to do this!

      On June 20, 2012

    • k says...

      gorgeous colours – natural dyeing is such a fascinating process.

      On June 19, 2012

    • Jessica Leigh says...

      Oh! Love this post! I so wish I could attend a natural dye workshop lead by you- Those colors look brilliant, and I love how you stuck to using natural materials all the way down to the wooden spoons!

      On June 19, 2012

    • Becca Atwood says...

      What beautiful colors!

      On June 19, 2012

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