Natural Dye Workshop

I have taken several natural dye workshops because…it takes a long time for things to really sink in? I need a lot of immersions before the information really takes?? Anyway,

Kelsie Doty

Kelsie Doty, the instructor for the Cornell Botanic Gardens Natural Dye Workshop, was able to communicate with us in a way that both conveyed enthusiasm for the craft and was extremely practical. Probably because she is a PhD student in apparel design at Cornell University (love living in a town with a land-grant college).



We all walked away with an excellent handout and a recommendation for a book –  Dyes from American Native Plants – that is so arcane and natural dye/fangirlish I immediately bought it.

The cloth had already been mordanted (is that a word?) with aluminum sulfate, which prepares the cloth to bond with the dye. The plants were already boiling in pots as well, so all we had to do was design and dye. We had multiple colors available, including yellow from marigolds, blue from indigo, and red from madder root.

We also had various supplies to shibori dye.


The Japanese have a  different name for each shibori  technique,
which if I used I might  erroneously give the impression I know what I’m talking about. One is the binding technique we call tie-dye.


Chevron shibori pattern

Another technique involves precise folding. I tried the chevron pattern, but could no more fold it properly than I can origami. Still came out great.







Here’s another example, this time using shapes bound into the cloth to make a pattern.


Gonna say we were all pretty damn pleased with ourselves, and most of us eager to try it on our own. If you read my pages, you may know we grew an excess of zinnias this year, and there are bags and bags in the freezer awaiting a dyeing attempt.

After the class, my friend and I explored the “Quiet Labor” exhibit featuring naturally dyed textiles, garments and artwork by students and local artists who contribute to the Cornell Natural Dye Studio. The idea is to encourage students who may someday work in the fashion industry to consider the fact that chemical dyes are the second largest polluter of waterways globally. I particularly liked the non-clothing items.

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Gallery Night with Friends

Just a quick post that is not so much about an event as it is about good company. But first about Gallery Night Ithaca

Art walks are not unique to Ithaca, of course, but being a college slash tourist town, we have more than your average number of small venues willing to hang a show, and an ungodly number of artists available to fill them. It’s all within walking distance downtown, and there’s free snacks and wine or cider at most of them. Not that I care.

. Kenneth McLaurin

At the CAP Art Space the show was titled “Why I Did It”. This is one of my favorite stops as they is usually have an extremely wide variety of works in all media and styles. At their periodic fund raiser, they sell donated art that you, yes YOU can afford to buy. The atmosphere is less arty and more community party, and this week there was even a stand up comedian. Kenneth McLaurin did a series of three minute bits. He made the mostly white audience laugh and squirm, so you know he’s good!

The CSMA gallery was another highlight. The We Are Ithaca portrait project was on display, and I’ll just quote form the projects website:

Jyl Dowd

“WE ARE ITHACA is a hosting a multi-faceted portrait project in 2017/2018 that uses the power of photography to engage diverse communities within our city in dialogue and celebration of our complex identity. At the heart of WE ARE ITHACA is the photographic portrait project carried out by Project Director/photographer Robyn Wishna, a small group of Ithaca College  students and volunteers. This is a project of the Community Arts Partnership made possible by a grant from the Park Foundation.” (There’s CAP again!)

This is a good segue into the friends part. Long time (as in our adult children were toddlers together) friend Elise Skalwold was involved as a project  associate. And right there on the wall (as well as standing next to me) was one of my two favorite people to wander gallery night with, Jyl Dowd, the development coordinator at The Cancer Resource Center. Turns out between her and Mike, our enthusiastic gallery night companion, you can get yourself introduced to just about everybody in town in under two hours.


Speaking of which, that’s Mike on the right, with Matthew Petti, whose assemblages at Sunny Days included rescued bits of cutting boards, various glassed slides and mysterious pieces of metal evocative of Victorian curio cabinet collections.

sculptures by Matthew Petti

I’m afraid you only got a taste of the many works of art on display that night. You’ll just have to go for yourself next First Friday of the month. And if you are really lucky, maybe you’ll see Mike there. Just be sure to tell him what day you were born…