Natural Dyes: Creating a Plant-Based Palette With Aaron Sanders Head
In this three-part lecture series, learn from textile artist Aaron Sanders Head how to turn kitchen scraps and foraged plants into natural dyes.
Onion skins have a secret. They, like many kinds of plant matter, can be transformed into a palette of brilliant colors—dyes ranging from copper to deep mustard. In this three-part online course, we’ll learn how to create natural dyes using everything from kitchen scraps to foraged plants. We’ll begin with the basics, learning the tools and terms needed to get started before setting up a dye bath and diving into the process. Not only will we use food scraps, plant dye powders, and extracts to color textiles, but we’ll also learn how to forage for regional dyestuff, depending on your local ecology. By the end of this workshop, you’ll walk away with a palette of fabrics dyed using local plants or extracts and powders, as well as a repeatable method for creating color from the contents of your compost bin.
Syllabus at a Glance
This course includes three total sessions, each lasting for 1.5 hours on three consecutive Tuesdays beginning May 16.
Session 1 (Tuesday, 5/16, 7:30-9 PM ET) | Materials, Setting Up Your Dye Studio, and Mordanting
Session 2 (Tuesday, 5/23, 7:30-9 PM ET) | Kitchen Waste Dyes, Bundle Dyeing, and Resist Methods
Session 3 (Tuesday, 5/30, 7:30-9 PM ET) | Immersion Dyeing with Flowers, Nuts, and Foraged Items & Understanding pH Shifts
Session one will include a deep dive into dyeing materials. Students who wish to dye along with the course in real time will need to gather the materials listed below. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about course materials.
- fiber (any natural materials like silk, wool, or plant materials are a good candidate)
- mordants (potassium aluminum sulfate for animal fibers and/or aluminum acetate for plant fibers)
- wheat bran or calcium carbonate for plant fibers
- a notebook
- stainless steel or nonreactive metal pot with lid dedicated to dyeing and not used for cooking or food preparation
- a heat source (kitchen, portable burner, outdoor fire pit, etc.)
- kitchen scale
- rubber gloves
- various spoons or small whisks for stirring and dissolving
- sieve, strainer, or cheese cloth
- assortment of buckets, bowls, or vessels for mixing and gather water and making smaller dye baths
This course is available at three ticket prices. This tiered pricing model is designed to increase access for a wider range of students as well as to support our instructors. In addition to tiered tickets, we offer a limited number of no-pay spots for students who would not otherwise be able to take this course. No-pay spots are selected via a randomized drawing two weeks before each section begins. For more information and to apply for a no-pay spot, please click here. To learn more about our pricing model and randomized selection process for no-pay spots, please visit our FAQ page.
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Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to each class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access all sessions of your course via Zoom.
Aaron Sanders Head is a Southern textile artist focused on natural dyes and hand-stitching. Aaron explores the intersections of practices of the past with contemporary craft, and the ways that sewing and textile arts can aid in increasing diversity and representation in the creative class. He is based in Greensboro, Alabama where he lives in an 1830s home with his partner, musician Tim Higgins, and two cats, Splenda and Turnip. He maintains an active studio practice and extensive dye garden used in his work.
This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording of each session, after it airs, at a time that is convenient for them. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session meets, students will receive access to a recording of the live session, which they can watch for up to two weeks after the course concludes.
Instructors may use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Google Classroom, instructors may use this platform to post resources, discussion questions, or assignments. This platform also offers a space for students to connect with one another about course material between sessions.
We provide closed captioning for all of our courses and can share transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at email@example.com if you have any questions, requests, or accessibility needs.
Tue, May 16, 20237:30 p.m.–9:00 p.m.$65