COSW Natural Dyes Workshop

Natural Dyes Workshop with Francisco Bautista

Central Oregon Spinners and Weavers Guild ANWG Grant Sponsored Event

Sept. 20-21, 2016                        Powell Butte, Oregon


Two days of dying with natural ingredients was led by Portland Guild member Francisco Bautista, a native of a Zapotec village in Oaxaca, Mexico.  These techniques have been passed down through 4 generations of his family and he was happy to share them with us.  He dyes wool for weaving his beautiful rugs.  His wife and 2 children also weave.

The chilly mornings started with a discussion of the history, processes, and materials used in the natural dying of wool fiber.  He brought several rugs and wool skeins as examples of the colors he achieves using natural plant materials and cochineal.  The dye pots were heated and we started with a pot of English walnut leaves and nuts.  The wool came out of the pot after about an hour of simmering in a rich medium brown color.  Next up was the intriguing cochineal: blended dried bugs found on the prickly pear cactus plant in desert climates.  He uses minimal ingredients to achieve his beautiful colors, adding only lime juice and vinegar to the dye bath.  The rich reddish pink color of the cochineal was transferred to the wool in the hour it was left to simmer.

The group separated dried yellow onion skins for another dye pot, and he also brought yellow marigolds for the fourth dye pot.  The richly colored skeins were placed in plastic bags to take home and ‘ferment’ for 2-3 more days.  It will be very interesting to see the colors of the yarns once they fermented and have dried.  The skeins will be shown at the next Guild meeting in October so we can all see the amazing results.  We had 20 guild members participate in this wonderful workshop over two days.  The Guild thanks ANWG for the grant we received to help make this event possible at a very reasonable cost for our members. See more pictures below.