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Donna Brown

Can You Dig It? Natural Dyeing and Direct Application of Natural Pigments

Session Two - June 9-15, 2019


Course Description

Earth ochers were dug from the ground by ancient peoples and the pigments were used in amazing cave paintings – and can be used to paint on cloth. European master painters used natural dye pigments before synthetic pigments were readily available. You can create wonderful surface designs using the same materials as the ancients and the masters!

These natural pigments can be applied to paper or to cotton and silk textiles using soymilk as a natural binder. Many of these pigments are extremely lightfast, making them an excellent choice for your textile artwork.

In addition to pigments the class will do immersion dyeing using a range of natural dye extracts. Dye colorants remaining in the immersion pots will be made into lake pigments – the insoluble form of the dye. We will also make the elusive Mayan blue – a pigment made from indigo powder. Lakes and Mayan Blue will also be applied using soymilk as a binder.

This class will explore painting, block printing, silk-screen and other surface design techniques using commercially available pigments and those made in class.

Exploring cloth as a creative canvas is worth digging into.

Artist's Biography
Donna Brown is a fiber artist from Denver, Colorado. She is a natural dyer with over 30 years of natural dyeing and teaching in venues across the US and abroad, including Penland School of Crafts, and John C Campbell Folk School. She is the former owner of the Dyeworks – a natural dye company. Donna is an active Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms volunteer who helped start the Janice Ford Memorial Dye Garden.

Website: Donna Brown

Supply List:

  • Fabrics - natural fiber fabrics: silk, cotton, hemp, linen, suitable for printing (smooth texture), 5-10 yds. NO wool fabrics.
  • Apron
  • Gloves – (Optional) light weight to protect hands from pigments
  • Dust mask (Optional)
  • Clothes suitable for dyeing, comfortable shoes
  • 1” and 2” foam brushes (up to 6 if you have them)
  • Stencil brush (stiff)
  • Surface design tools you may own – such as stamps, stencils, wood blocks, screen printing tools (Donna will bring an assortment to share- there is no need to go out and purchase anything)
  • Please bring any of your work using natural dyes to share

2019 - Session Two Faculty Work

Michael Brennand-Wood


Donna Brown


Cora Cohen


Jean Jones


Lesley Patterson-Marx


Hannah Perner-Wilson

Jeremy Randall



Paul Roden



Katja Toporski

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