From the Garden: Plants to Dye For

By Erin Breglia

On an unsea­son­ably mild mid-Jan­u­ary morn­ing, Lan­dis Gar­den Club mem­bers gath­ered at the Farm­house to meet with some local fiber artists to dis­cuss the art of mak­ing dyes from plants for hand­spun wool. 

Lau­rel Shaver and Maya Gaasche, from Thorn Apple Acres in Fort Plain, and Cece Tkaczyk, from CeCe’s Wool and Farm Store in Esper­ance, showed us mul­ti­ple sam­ples of col­ors cre­at­ed from local back­yard grown plants. The women explained how wool from their own ani­mals is spun to cre­ate high qual­i­ty, back­yard-grown nat­ur­al fiber. These fibers can then be used to cre­ate cloth­ing, hats, gloves, blan­kets, bags — or what­ev­er the heart and mind desires.

Lau­rel and her daugh­ter Maya have enjoyed exper­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent plants over the years to pro­duce beau­ti­ful nat­ur­al col­ors. A bright yel­low with flecks of green can be cre­at­ed from Queen Anne’s Lace, a com­mon weed.” Jew­el­weed can be used to pro­duce unique blends of orange. We have sam­ples of olive green from mullein and a gor­geous green-brown from black-eyed Susans. Oth­er native plants that can be used to make fiber dye include black wal­nut, gold­en­rod, crabap­ple leaves, sumac, oak leaves and acorns.

Lau­rel and Maya will be at Lan­dis dur­ing the Spring Plant Sale, May 19 – 20, with wool sam­ples, and will be hap­py to answer ques­tions about fibers and nat­ur­al dyes. On Sat­ur­day, they will lead a walk­ing tour to iden­ti­fy plants that can be used for dye­ing. They will also return on July 14th, to lead a class on the full dye­ing process. The Lan­dis Gar­den Club plans to scout for plants that can be used for the class and to label them for edu­ca­tion­al pur­pos­es.

Lat­er this year, CeCe’s store will be offer­ing a hat kit — called The Lan­dis” — that uti­lizes some of these local­ly dyed col­ors. You can be sure that brown wool cre­at­ed from our oaks will be in there!

The Lan­dis Gar­den Club plans anoth­er busy year for gar­den­ers and gar­den fanciers. For infor­ma­tion about Club events, con­sult the event cal­en­dar at the Lan­dis web­site (lan​dis​ar​bore​tum​.org).

Spring 2018

Volume 36 , Number 2

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