Natural Dye workshops with indigo, pokeberry, rudbeckia, 2018â€“2019
Indigo dyeing workshops, NYC, 2019
In 2017, I began growing indigo from seed in my Brooklyn apartment after reading the legend of Eliza Lucas Pinckney, credited with having made indigo a North Carolina cash crop from 1745â€“75. Understanding the role enslaved laborers played in indigo’s success, including applying cultural knowledge of how to grow indigo and extract pigment, I decided to try producing indigo from seed to dye as a performance of labor and empathy. In the process, I began learning cultural, technical and social global indigo traditions, which I share in free, public workshops at several NYC sites, including Old Stone House and Wyckoff House, Brooklyn, and GrowNYC’s Governors Island Teaching Garden, all three of which provide free space and plant care in exchange for my public workshops and knowledge. While I grow seeds at home, I plant seeds with friends around NYC, and the Education Greenhouse of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden also sows seeds.
Below is some imagery from workshops this summer.
Natural dye workshops, NYC, 2018
In addition to growing and dyeing with indigo, I forage for and collect other plant matter found around NYC. At a natural dyeing and embroidery workshop at Wyckoff Farm in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, summer 2018, we used Rudbeckia flowers and pokeberry found on the farm to create natural dyes. We simmered these in separate dye pots and added alum, a pickling salt, as a mordant. After an hour of simmering, we added silk handkerchiefs.