Natural Dyeing for Beginners: Mordants and Modifiers

Wednesdays, 6pm to 9pm | May 22 or June 19

Think of a mordant like a bridge - it's what sits between your natural dye and fiber, binding them together to improve light- and wash-fastness. Modifiers shift colors - they can produce a range of shades and even entirely different colors, from just one plant. Some plants are natural mordants; some mordants are also modifiers; some fibers need mordants and others less so. Add the list of plant- and mineral-based options along with possible plant-mordant-modifier-fiber combinations and the subject gets into the weeds, quick!

This 3-hour beginner's workshop is designed as an easy starting point into the topic. Students will:

  • Learn when and how to use mordants and modifiers, how different fibers need and react to M&Ms, and the different plant- and mineral-based options for both.

  • Experiment with modifiers to produce different colors. We'll work "salad-bar" style: students will choose different pre-dyed fiber samples to test in various solutions of modifiers, experiencing the vast array of possible combinations first hand, and in a short time.

  • Create and relax with in a low-key, convivial environment.

Students will leave with a book of recipes and resources, and dyed fiber samples that may be used for reference or creative projects later.

Class Fee: $60; $20 Kids (12 and under). Gardeners, check out our Learn As You Grow discount below.

Materials: Included. Students may bring their own small samples of naturally-dyed fibers to modify.

Ages: All-ages; 12 and under must attent with parent or guardian.
Experience Level: Beginners to Intermediate. Prior experience with natural dyeing is helpful; you may wish to take our Basics workshop first as an introduction.

Instructor: Karen Cornish

NOTE for wheelchair users: We are located in a 19th-century building with only stairs, and no elevator. We regret that our space is not accessible by wheelchair.


Learn-As-You-Grow Gardener’s Discount

We raise and sell traditional dye plants hardy to Zone 5 on our farm in Hinesburg, including Japanese Indigo (blue), Madder (red), Weld (yellow), and other varieties not typically found in local nurseries. We love growing and using our own colors and want to teach you to do the same, to Learn As You Grow!

Our plant seedlings will be available for sale in April on our website, for pick up mid-May in Hinesburg and other locations TBA. For every dollar spent on our seedlings (or other dyestuffs later in the summer), we’ll give you the same amount off a workshop held at our Montpelier studio. How it works:

- Sign up for any workshop and we’ll email a discount code that may be used online or in person (at our Hinesburg farm or the Capitol City Farmer's Market in Montpelier)
- Purchase plants (online or in person) and we’ll email a discount code that may be used towards any workshop.
- Plant quantities are limited. Discount based on pre-tax amount (“subtotal”)
- Offer good for workshops occurring through September 2019 at our Montpelier studio
- Workshop spots are limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis

Here’s a list of our 2019 traditional plant varieties. “Traditional” means that their light- and wash-fast properties are well-known and tested over time; there are many other botanical sources of color that we’ll cover in other workshops such as Making Botanical Inks and Food Dyes from Nature.