The ins and outs of natural dyes with artist Danielle Shelton
Natural dyes have existed long before their synthetic descendants. Dyes extracted from vibrant plants, minerals, or even insects have a rich ancient history, dating as far back as the Neolithic period. The process fell out of practice around the 19th century, with the Industrial Revolution making synthetic dyes more readily available.
Textile artist Danielle Shelton speaks about the importance of choosing natural dyes over synthetics on her website, explaining that it eliminates the harmful chemicals and heavy metals present in synthetic dyes. It also helps to keep our oceans, watersheds, and drinking water supplies clean.
This Wednesday, Shelton is presenting the opportunity to go back to our roots, so to speak, and learn the ancient art of natural dyeing and plant pounding.
Armed with the provided silk scarf and watercolor paper, participants will have the opportunity to trek through the outdoors to find berries, roots, and flowers to make into dyes. From there, Shelton will illustrate how to chop, simmer, and extract color from the raw materials. At the end of the day, participants will have a beautiful and naturally-dyed silk scarf.
As well as exploring natural dye techniques and sources, Shelton will provide the opportunity to learn another ancient art form called plant pounding. It’s exactly what it sounds like: pounding vibrantly-colored leaves or flowers onto fabric or paper to release their natural dyes. Participants will use the aforementioned watercolor paper to create plant-pounding artwork.
The class begins at 9 a.m. at the Chattanooga WorkSpace. Participants must be 13 or older.