Colors by Nature 2023

Event Info

This one-day, virtual workshop takes place on Zoom on Thursday, March 23, from 6–8pm Eastern time.

  • Thursday, March 23, 6:00–8:00 ET

Please Note: Registration for this workshop closes on March 16, at 11:59pm.

About the Workshop:

This virtual class at Center for Book Arts is taught by instructor Iviva Olenick.

Create natural colors on fabric using food scraps and fallen petals, flowers or leaves collected outside! The instructor will lead you through a bundle dyeing technique, rolling different colorants inside fabric and steaming them to transfer colors onto the fabric. She will also demonstrate petal and leaf pounding, and discuss dip dyeing, fresh leaf indigo dyeing and more.


Please note: Preparation is required to engage the techniques taught. This may add up to 2-3 hours of your time before class. Please see instructions below within the Required Materials list. If you prefer to watch the demonstration without doing dyeing at home, you can skip the prep! You can also opt to order the Supply Kit

and skip the prep. Click this link to order the materials kit for this workshop. Please note that materials kit orders are accepted until one week before the class begins.


Required Materials:

Required Materials:

  • Un-dyed Silk or Cotton fabric for dyeing
  • A pot designated for dyeing, not to be used for cooking anything you will ingest.
  • Soda ash (1 lb quantity) to scour or wash fabric
  • Alum (1 lb quantity) to use as a mordant
  • Undyed rubber bands or undyed string
  • A piece of aluminum foil poked with a fork to create small holes. Piece needs to be big enough to fit over your dye pot. This will be used to steam the fabric.
  • A water source or sink.
  • A small hammer or mallet if you want to try petal and leaf printing/pounding.
  • Food scraps – This can include avocado skins and pits, washed and dried; onion skins; frozen or fresh berries; purple cabbage; beets; turmeric; black beans.
  • Flowers: The following plants can be used safely:
    • Comfrey: produces a yellowish-green
    • Sunflowers: heads produce blackish-purple
    • Goldenrod: makes yellow
    • Queen Anne’s Lace: makes ivory-yellow
    • Hibiscus: color of dye depends on color of flowers
    • Other Plant matter to look for outside: acorns, black walnuts, purpleleaf sand cherry tree leaves (makes a pinkish-purple), eucalyptus
  • Optional: Baking soda and white vinegar. These will shift the Ph of a dye vat and change the color of the resulting dye for purple cabbage and avocado pits and skins.
Instructions for scouring fabric:
  • Dissolve some soda ash in boiling water and let the fabric simmer in the bath for 30 minutes. Dispose of the waste water. Ring out fabric and let dry.
Instructions for mordanting fabric:
  • Dissolve several TBs of alum in boiling water. Allow fabric to simmer in the bath for 45 minutes or longer. Dispose of waste water and ring out fabric gently.
Please see Dharma Trading links for more information on using soda ash and alum:


About Iviva Olenick

Iviva Olenick is a Brooklyn-based artist developing textiles from seed to fiber and dye and using textiles as texts. Her work has been exhibited all over the United States, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Design Atlanta; the Hunterdon Museum, NJ; Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, NYC; the Center for Book Arts, NYC; the Old Stone House, Brooklyn; Wyckoff House Museum, Brooklyn. Olenick is a faculty member of SVA’s MFA Art Practice program where she teaches Fibers. In addition, she gives artist talks and designs intensive textile-based workshops for museums and universities.

All images courtesy of the instructor. 

In order to best serve our community near and far, many of our online classes are pay-what-you-can. The amount you choose to pay goes directly toward our instructors and toward creating scholarship opportunities for the future. Virtual workshops at Center for Book Arts will be recorded and the recording will be provided for all registered participants after the class.

Registration is closed. Return to all Classes.

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