Phone: 1 902 323 0714
Online Form: you can submit an online enquiry here, and we'll get back to you asap.
Workshop Venues: primarily at Mamie’s Schoolhouse’s own teaching studio, but also at other locations by invitation.
1. How do I care for plant dyed textiles?
Many modern laundry and dry-cleaning products have been developed to work with synthetic dyes. They are not suitable for the pH-sensitive nature of natural dyes. To ensure the longevity of your plant dyed fibres:
spot clean or hand wash in cool water
use gentle/pH neutral soap (this is also better for our precious waterways)*
lay flat or hang to dry out of direct sunlight
iron while damp
store out of direct sunlight
*pH neutral soaps and detergents are generally readily available in supermarkets (i.e. ecological home and personal cleaning products), health food stores, online, etc.
2. Will the dyes fade?
All dyes - synthetic and natural - fade with time and wear. However, if fibres have been properly prepared and mordanted (to ensure that dye and fibre molecules bond strongly), and stored and cleaned appropriately (see below), then natural dyes will last for many, many years. Long enough, in fact, to become a family heirloom. See some historic examples here and here.
One exception to this is most flower dyes and prints (i.e. as opposed to dyes/prints from leaves, bark, seeds, and roots). Unless the flowers used are from a well known dye plant (such as Anthemis tincoria, Coreopsis tinctoria, etc.), then their dyes and prints tend to fade very quickly. They can be very beautiful, but dyers/sellers should be honest with customers about the ease with which dyes/prints from flowers can fade. For example, it has become quite popular to print/dye clothing and other items with flowers left over from weddings, funerals, etc., but the effects will generally be very short-lived. In addition, many commercially sold flowers used in such arrangements have been heavily treated with pesticides, herbicides and, in some instances, with synthetic colorants. So while it's great that they are being recycled into something else, unless the flowers are organic and untreated, their use in fabric dyeing/printing can't really be considered 'natural' dyeing. For these reasons, Mamie's Schoolhouse rarely uses flowers, other than those we grow organically that are known to be light-fast and wash-fast.
3. Can I re-dye the fibres?
Yes! If you accidentally launder your item with a harsh soap or water that's too hot, etc., or if you just want a change, one of the joys of natural fibres and dyes is that you can over-dye many, many times, however it is best to re-mordant each time to ensure proper dye uptake.
Some spectacular effects can be achieved by layering different natural dye/print efforts.
1. What should I bring to a workshop?
A notebook and pen, and a spirit of adventure.
Wear comfortable footwear.
A full apron can be very useful to protect your clothing.
Regular kitchen rubber gloves.
2. Why do I have to purchase your materials (i.e. why can't I bring my own fabric/yarn/paper)?
Materials provided by Mamie's Schoolhouse allow for reliable results. The materials provided are guaranteed to be all natural, without any synthetic fibres or chemical treatments that can resist proper uptake of natural dyes/inks and disappoint students who have set aside time and money to learn effective techniques. Also, for many workshops, fibres will have been mordanted in advance to make best use of students' time during the workshop and to ensure the best possible results.
In addition, successful natural dyeing depends on a crucial factor known as WOF (weight of fibre). It means that the amount of mordants and dyes prepared for a workshop are calculated in advance to meet the known WOF needs of the workshop fibres.
Whenever possible, Mamie's Schoolhouse uses Cape Breton and Nova Scotian fibres, in the interests of supporting a local sustainable fibre economy.
Where fibres must be sourced elsewhere, they are purchased through Fair Trade businesses
3. Are the workshops child friendly?
Most workshops involve being around very hot dye vats and, in some instances, sharp instruments.
Therefore workshops are restricted to those 16 years of age and older, other than specific events listed as "family friendly" in the workshop description.
Registration fees are the same regardless of participant age.
Children under 16 are not permitted on the premises during the workshop.
4. Is lunch included?
For most workshops, yes (healthy vegetarian lunch, catered locally), but please read the individual workshop description for what’s included in the registration fee for any given workshop.