It’s harvest time here at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science (WMAES), and we aren’t talking about vegetables…we’re talking about native wild plants to make natural dyes. The Visual Arts A class has been working collaboratively with Miss Holly (Env. Science) and Mrs. Buist (Visual Arts) to collect plants, make dyes, dye wool yarn and finally use the yarn to make a coil basket. It’s all in an effort to incorporate the environmental aspect into all areas of the school curriculum and we are all having a blast.
The Coil Pot originated in the country of Africa but has also been used by many other cultures and throughout time. Originally these baskets were woven from reeds and grasses, but for our project we are using wool yarn that has been hand dyed by the students.
Some of the plants harvested for dyes were; Spearmint, Sunflower, Zinnia flower, Sassafras leaves, Goldenrod, Beet leaves and the root, Pokeweed and Wild grapes. The plants were picked on Monday and prepared for use in the dying process. On Wednesday the students boiled the plant parts in water for about 45 minutes. Finally they soaked the yard pieces in the dyes overnight and the yarn was ready to use by Friday. Students will spend the next week making the baskets, which will be on display later this year. Here a a few plants that make a good natural dye.
Sunflower, Chamomile, Yarrow, Zinnia, Goldenrod
Yellow bedstraw, Madder, Yellow cosmos, Coreopsis, Dahlia
Marigold, Black walnuts, Sassafras leaves, Black eyed susan
Pokeweed, Wild grape, Beets
Read more: Visual Arts Class Makes Naturally Dyed Yarn