Natural Dye Workshop - Shibori and Bundle Dyeing at Bath City Farm

My workshop at Bath City Farm earlier this month was so much fun! I had a lovely group of students keen to learn about sustainable natural dyeing with foraged plants and food waste, all in the gorgeous surroundings of the farm.

We foraged for common plants and flowers on the farm, mindfully gathering what was plentiful and in season. For the dye pots, we picked, dahlias, tansy, and purple sage. For the bundle dyes we gathered a selection of blooms and leaves, considering the possible colour outcomes.

We made dye baths using the tansy, purple sage and dahlias, plus heated up an avocado skin bath I’d prepared earlier. While those were heating up I showed the students simple shibori inspired folding techniques using wooden pegs, sticks and string on squares of cotton cloth that had been mordanted with tannin and alum.

The results were really impressive, I’m a particular fan of the orange we got from the dahlias! I hadn’t dyed with them before so it was a genuine surprise.

The bottom right photo shows my test pieces, form L-R: Avocado skins (dusky pink), dahlia (orange), purple sage (olive green) and tansy (greeny-yellow).

Finally we made bundle dyes using silk mordanted with album, by laying petals and other plant material (including onion skins, which make a great rusty orange colour!) onto the fabric, rolling tightly then tying up with string before steaming. Once cooled, the bundles were, well, unbundled, revealing the colourful plant pattern underneath!

It was a great morning with some unexpected results - I hadn’t dyed with sage or dahlias before! I got to take some plants home with me and the leftover dye baths; expect more colour experiments using my local wool yarn soon…