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Dyeing for Spring (Nova Scotia Mainland)

  • Gaspereau Valley FIbres 830 Gaspereau River Road Wolfville, NS, B4P 2R3 Canada (map)

Dyeing for Spring at Gaspereau Valley Fibres

  • with Mel Sweetnam

  • Saturday 15 June, 2019; 10 am to 4:30 pm

  • Cost: $100 + tax (includes instruction & all materials)

Workshop Overview:
After a long, cold Winter, come learn to craft delicious dyes from plants – both classic natural dyes used since antiquity, as well as those growing right outside the studio! This workshop is the perfect overview of the magical world of beautiful pigments from Nature in the lovely setting of Gaspereau Valley Fibres’ working farm. Suitable for both beginner and intermediate natural dyers.

Special Package Offer: $170 + tax for both this workshop and the Indigo & Shibori workshop.

Students Will Learn:

  • history of natural dyeing

  • basic, easy to grasp concepts from chemistry and biology that can make you a much more successful natural dyer

  • dye studio safety

  • how to prepare and dye different types of fibres – i.e. both protein (animal kingdom) and cellulose (plant kingdom) fibres to maximize colour uptake, wash and light fastness (so that results don’t wash out or fade)

  • about the ethics and ecology of growing and/or foraging dye plants

  • how to prepare plant material to maximize dye yield

  • how to create a large range of hues from a few plants, using simple, non-toxic assists and modifiers

  • natural post-dye treatments to protect fibres

  • good record keeping so that dye results can be reproduced

Students Take Home: proper dye records and yarn samples, a detailed instructional handout, and the skills to continue experimenting on your own (plus, per above, a starter vat, if you wish).

Bring With You: kitchen gloves, an apron, notebook & pen.

About The Instructor: Mel Sweetnam is an ecological fibre artist, with particular expertise in natural dyes. She is the founder of Mamie’s Schoolhouse (, a teaching studio focused on sustainable fibre arts, as well as the Cape Breton Fibre Trail ( She is very well known for a range of botanical dye techniques, as well as for the fun and informative mix of art and science in her workshops. She is a juried member of the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design, the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, and the South Haven Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers. Her work has been featured in international publications, and in an upcoming book on the Maritime’s best contemporary artisans.

Skill level: Beginner