Saturday, October 22, 2016

Natural Dyeing Workshop at the Hans Herr House

This morning I spent a very enjoyable three hours at the Hans Herr House near Lancaster, PA participating in a natural dyeing workshop. Marty and Jess were our instructors for the course; Marty focusing on pennsylvania german dyeing and Jess on native american dyeing. We used indigo, onion skins, blood root and the bark of the sassafrass root. The main reason I wanted to attend this workshop was to learn dyeing in a more historical setting, using a wood fire and seeing how dyes worked in cast iron pots. Well, how about this for a hearth!
The site itself was beautiful. We were in the basement kitchen of this old stone house.

We even had a very affectionate furry visitor!

 But, alas, no cast iron, just enameled and stainless steel. So I will have to do more practice on my own with some of the cast iron and brass/copper kettles I have.

Marty started by talking about some of her dye books. I think my next purchase will be a lovely looking dyeing book from Colonial Williamsburg, "Organic Fiber Dyeing."

We all brought something made of natural fiber (wool, linen, silk or cotton) to dye. I brought an off white silk blouse I had bought a while back for dyeing and had just never gotten around to doing anything with. Others brought cotton shirts, pieces of linen or cotton, a silk scarf. One woman brought a beautiful vintage young child's dress that looked amazing dyed in the indigo vat.
It's hard to see in the photo, but the cotton lace and a sort of ribbon near the hem had subtle shade variations. The whole piece was just incredible.

I realize now that I didn't get any pictures of things dyed with other colors. My silk blouse came out a very vibrant orangey mustard that is right now simmering in a walnut over dye bath. I loved the color but I didn't think I would have worn the shirt. I am hoping for a more burnt orange after overdyeing.

Marty showed us some of the colors she has dyed in the past:

And rugs she wove with some of the yarns she dyed.

And Jess talked about porcupine quills in native american decorations and had quills for us to dye.
And that orange thing that looks like a leaf in the photo above is a deer tail dyed in blood root. How cool is that!

I definitely need to dye with onion skins. The yellow skins gave a really deep color but I have seen people getting a really pretty green with red onion skins on wool mordanted with alum.

The sassafrass was a bit of a disappoinment. It was very expensive but only yielded a color that was OK.  But it smelled good!

 And here are a few more photos.

1 comment:

  1. That looks like such fun! It's been years since I've dyed anything and now the itch must be scratched.