I am a quilter and textile artist who for the past decade has been exploring the use of natural products as fabric dyes, their history, sustainability and the just the pure mad-scientist fun factor of coaxing color from what’s generally considered garbage.
I use the dyed fabrics to create abstract landscape quilts, but also for renewing upcycled thrifted clothing, bandanas, t-shirts — pretty much anything made of cotton, wool, silk or other natural fibers.
Color can come from food waste (avocado pits produce a beautiful pink), invasive plants (goldenrod growing along the roadways for bright yellow), trees, rocks and insects.
In Colorado, foraged dye sources can include rusty metal bits, invasive plants such as dog brush and knapweed, and native plants including pine and spruce bark, cones or needles, scrub oak acorns or leaves, prickly pear cactus fruit or paddles, prairie coneflower, sunflowers, white sage brush, indigo bush, and skunk brush. Also red dirt or rock and other colored minerals.