Using natural dyes to reduce carbon footprint
I am a felter, natural dyer, printer and garment maker. My introduction to fiber came at age 10 when my mother and grandmother taught me to knit. My passage into the family knitting circle began with a trip to the yarn shop and turned into a lifelong passion for fiber.
Growing up in the late 1960’s, My work was influenced by the diverse fashion trends of the time. This influence can be seen today in the manner I combine wool, silk and other fibers to create fabric for my garments. My awareness of environmental practices came in the 1970’s when I became involved in the recycling movement. Since then I have been mindful of using what my immediate environment has to offer and avoiding wasteful practices in both my home and art.
My interest in natural dyeing piqued in 2013 after attending a workshop with felt maker and natural dyer, Polly Stirling. Polly opened my eyes to an array of plants that offer a range of colors and shades for dyeing. A renewable resource, natural dyes derived from plant material can help reduce our carbon footprint and provide us with a way to reduce the toxins we put near our bodies. Through experimentation, I learned many variables of the natural dyeing process including the time of season, location of plants, type of mordants used to fix or change the color and the type of cloth being dyed and printed. I work with cotton, wool and silk. To receive color each type of fabric requires a slightly different mordanting process. “Exacting vibrant and varied colors along with some unexpected results adds to the excitement and mystery of natural dying without the harmful effects of synthetic dyes.”
Surrounded by the Cascade and Siskiyou mountains and lots of forest in Ashland, Oregon, JI finds inspiration everywhere I look. My favorite local leaves to print are the tannin rich maple, oak, black walnut, sumac and eucalyptus. On my ritual morning walks, I can be seen gathering madrone bark, fallen lichen and lots of leaves.
My most recent exploration has been the use of natural dye paste to create additional surface design on my fabrics with stencils, found objects, stamps and silk screens. Using what nature has to offer to create art is the foundation of her work. Ever aware of my environment and preserving our natural resources, I also repurpose old garments and cloth to create new designs.
I teache a variety of textiles techniques including felting, natural dyeing and printing at Ashland Art Center. My creative focus is on combining natural elements with my fabric to create unique textiles with minimal waste.