5 Best: Natural Dyes

Last November, I attended the Tenth International Shibori Symposium in Oaxaca, Mexico. I'll post several times about the conference, as it was packed tightly with illuminating and inspiring moments.

One such moment was a session about natural dye practices moderated by Master-dyer Catherine Ellis and Christina Roberts of Marafiki Arts. Beginning with "what's it going to take to make it [natural dyes] stick?", the open discussion followed a meandering path through technical information, the role of science for dyers (and how natural dyes can be used to teach science!), and the 5 best natural dye books and 5 best dyes for artists.

There are thousands of natural materials that could be used to dye fibers. One important note to acknowledge that these "5 best dyes" are identified for their light and color fastness, critical factors when creating archival art pieces. The intention of the user may be different however, such as dyeing with invasive plants to raise awareness about the environmental and economic impact of introduced plants. Artists may also want to reference their local environment and use foraged or cultivated natural dyes specific to their region to make a statement.

And they are...

 Left to right: Indigo, Cochineal, Weld, Madder, and (not pictured) Osage Orange

Left to right: Indigo, Cochineal, Weld, Madder, and (not pictured) Osage Orange