Thursday, March 12, 2015

Plant Dye Intensive Summary

The plant dye workshop that was originally scheduled for March 1st took place this past Sunday, on March 8th. Lucky for the teacher and attendees it was a fabulously sunny and beautiful day here in the Santa Monica Mountains which added a deeper shade of magic to the whole experience.

Mona, Greg and I arrived at the perfumery early to get things set up. The night before I prepared two things for the day, both based on lavender. The first was a whipped cream cheese and the second was a hand and body balm. For the whipped cream cheese I took one standard block of cream cheese and put it in the food processor with 1 tablespoon Hedcote lavender blossoms (from Ojai), a teaspoon dried Rosemary from our back lot and a few other random herbs that I can't remember...probably sage. I whipped all of together and then put into a glass container for the following morning.

The hand and body butter is something I've been making for a couple years. At some point soon, when I am convinced that it is a fabulous product, it will become available. If any of you fine readers would like a sample tossed into your next order please send me a note.

Back to the workshop...we set up two boiling pots and a large selection of plant material down the hallway next to the perfumery. Meanwhile, inside we set up the other items we would be using and snacks at the lavender colored table within the teaching area.

For our first project we had the option of choosing to dye fabric for a travel bag for our wool wrap or dye a silk scarf. I choose a rectangular silk scarf. The second project was a long wool shawl. Before the dying process Mona took us outside and explained the different colors that the plants might impart to our fabric. There are generalities with plants and colors, but as nature contains wild magick which cannot be tamed, sometimes the color varies. She had fun names for each of the different Eucalyptus leaves, like "Lost Hills" etc. which relates to an exact tree in an area.

We each selected a spot, spread out our fabric and began our compositions, in complete awareness of letting go to the intention of the plant divas. I choose to go for a water color type look for the scarf with colors from my palette, to achieve my desire I used plant materials that printed more in darker brown, umber and mauve hues. This included onion skins and an iron fleur de lis that would add some black.

Once we had all the plant material placed we rolled it all up and tied them with string. Greg's looked like a sushi hand roll, while mine was a super odd shape due to the fleur de lis iron. Once they were rolled and ready we through them into the pot. By the way, a nice benefit of using eucalyptus leaves and other botanicals is that it fills the space with the aromatic molecules, in this case Eucalyptus which made the day feel like we were at a spa.

While our first pieces cooked we each worked on the pocket for our wool shawl and or the travel bag. The pocket for my shawl was made of a few different fabrics including one little piece meant to hang to give it a boho type quality.

Next came the removal and unveiling of first eco printed items. When we pulled them out of the pot they were really hot and steaming, which was tricky when unrolling. Here is a photo of Teresa with hers and one of Monica, leaves and matter included. You will notice how one is more graphic and one more washes of color.

After lunch down at Blue Table we began pulling out our secondary bundles out of the pots. The unveiling of each persons piece was always exciting, producing lots of ou's and  awes.

Above is my wool shawl, freshly unrolled and below folded with pocket exposed.

I'm so grateful to have had Mona come and share her vast knowledge with each of us. It was such a wonder filled day that I wish for every one. Doing these types of activities connects us more deeply to nature and in doing so eases anxiety and increases our relationship with Gaia and other sentient beings on this planet that we share.

Next workshop with Mona will be "Color from the Kitchen" planned for April, details coming soon!

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