Recap: Nature's Notebook with Coco Villa

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This past weekend we gathered for a special workshop with Coco Villa of Somos by Coco Nuco. Coco taught us how to create natural dyes out of a few botanicals, including onion skins, cochineal, and marigolds.

I really enjoyed seeing our studio transformed into a dyeing studio! It was so easy — a hot plate, some pots, a bucket, water — and bam we were ready to go. I’ve yet to do dyeing in our new space and this workshop proved to me it doesn’t need to be complicated!

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We also talked about different fibers and materials used to dye and how to prepare dye baths.

Coco shared her knowledge of working with different types of botanicals and showed us how to create dye baths with cochineal, marigolds, and onion skins.

We also talked about our own personal interests in natural dyeing and sustainability, and what is actually sustainable.

We started the day with some coffee and snacks. Coco shared her notebook of swatches and samples from all her dyeing tests and we got ready to start making our own swatches.

First we set up the mordants. Then we started cooking colors.

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Many of us were artists or creators interested in incorporating natural dyeing into our work or just wanting to learn something new.

Once the colors were ready, we prepped some watercolor paper in each of the three different mordant baths — alum, copper, and iron — and then tested the dyes on the paper using paint brushes to create a variety of swatches.

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Next, we create swatches of the three dye colors with the three different mordants on three different materials: cotton, hemp, and silk.

Then, we let the swatches dry as we prepped our notebooks with labels of the mordant, material, and botanical used. It was super exciting to see all the fabrics become a variety of colors — and all from just three botanicals!

I now have a ton of ideas of how I want to experiment with more dye colors and incorporate it into my own artwork. I’m excited to see how all our guests will be using these techniques in their own work!

We hope to have Coco back soon! Check out our other upcoming workshops here.

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