Creativity · dye · Fun · Memoir · Yarn

Shibori & Natural Dye Workshop

It rained quite a bit this weekend in the Bay Area. (Lord knows we really need the it.) So, the North Bay was very soggy on Saturday, but my husband managed to get us out to Bodega in the morning and back in the evening without running into any traffic or major street flooding. HURRAY.

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The Shibori and Natural Dye Workshop with Monica Paz Soldan was super fun, and I am happy to say that I took a ton of pictures.

There were eleven students this time, so it’s the biggest class I have yet attended at Hand-Made Studio. A few of the attendees were local Bodega residents, but other folks from all around the Bay Area like San Francisco, Berkeley, Sebastopol, and Napa were able to brave the rain.

At the beginning of class we were each given a 50-yard hank of local wool and a small square silk hankie to dye however we wanted.

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We also had the chance to dye a third item, which we had been encouraged to bring from home. Out of the items that I thrifted last week, I decided to dye the long scarf from Community Thrift SF that was 85% cotton and 15% cashmere, because it is a simple shape, thin, but still a pretty good size piece for a first natural dye project.

Monica showed us several primitive dyeing techniques, and she provided us with materials to wrap and bind with, like cotton string, rubber bands, marbles, pennies, and popsicle sticks. Then we just dove right in.

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There were three natural dye pots that Monica set up for us to choose from: Indigo, which makes a vibrant blue, Madder root, a rich red, and Oxalis, a fluorescent yellow.

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The items that were placed in the Madder and Oxalis pots soaked for about 2-3 hours, but items in the Indigo crockpot were dyed instantly after only 20 seconds.

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Once the items in the Oxalis pot finished dyeing we had the option to place them in a second bath of baking soda, which turned the yellow a shade of gold. The change was instant. An item only needed to be in the bath a second or two, depending on the shade desired.

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Here are shots of my scarf and silk hankie projects before they went into the dye bath. My yarn went into the dye as is.

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And the after! Ooooh. Aaaaaah.

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My silk hankie was dyed in Indigo, the wool yarn in Madder, and the scarf in Oxalis. I am very pleased with how they all came out. Not bad for a first try, eh? Ignore the little dark speckles on the hankie. They were just some bits from the bottom of the pot and rinsed right off at home. If the yarn had been left in the Madder dye a little longer, or dyed again, I think the red would be darker, but I actually like the dusty clay red that it turned out to be. I don’t have a full shot of my now-yellow-scarf yet, so I’ll have to make sure I get a better shot of it once it dries completely.

Honestly, my favorite part of the class was watching the other dyers work and getting to see what amazing textile designs folks were able to achieve with different techniques. Nobody knew exactly what effects they were going to get, so it was a thrilling surprise every time.

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This creative dyeing process was hugely satisfying for everyone, especially using the Indigo dye, which was so dark and magically vivid.

I am looking forward to dying my other thrifted items and handspun yarn at home soon. This workshop has really inspired me. It is amazing that there is so much organic color out there to experiment with!

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