Cape Breton's First Commercial Dye Plant Harvest

Cape Breton's First Commercial Dye Plant Harvest


Be the first to dye with Cape Breton’s first commercial dye plant harvest!

In 2019 three classic dye plants are being grown on a commercial scale on Cape Breton Island for the very first time. This first harvest workshop will be a colourful and very fun introduction to various methods of working with one or more of these plants (which plants we work with will depend on the harvest results, but regardless, there will be lots of colour!).

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  • Date: Friday 11 October, 2019

  • Location: Inverness County Centre for the Arts, 16080 Highway 19, Inverness, Cape Breton Island

  • Time: 10 am to 4 pm (with 1 hour for lunch - not provided; you are welcome to bring a packed lunch, or there are lots of places to eat nearby)

  • Experience: beginner to intermediate

  • Fee: $100 includes a full day of instruction and all supplies

  • Tax: this web platform collects Nova Scotia's 15% HST for those with a Canadian billing address; for others, HST is payable at the workshop (a receipt will be provided).

  • In Person Payments: cash

  • Age: 18+ years

  • Minimum Registrants To Proceed: 8

  • Terms of Service: registration constitutes agreement with the Terms of Service.

  • Take Home: detailed handout and fibre samples dyed in the workshop

In recent years, there has been a significant resurgence in interest in natural fibres and natural dyes, as people grow more concerned about the effects of their own, and the planet’s, exposure to toxic chemicals. Also, many people are motivated to rediscover crafts that are a part of our collective human heritage, connect us to our ancestors’ ways of life, and immerse us in a respectful and creative relationship with the natural world.

In this one day, hands-on introductory workshop, students will be introduced to the ancient history and current ecological practices for creating beautiful dye colours using plants from Cape Breton’s first commercial dye plant harvest. Those of us involved in this trial are super excited about the possibilities for scaling up natural dye production on the island, and providing sustainable livelihoods that support the rapidly increasing interest - from hobbyists through to multi-national textile manufacturers - in natural dyes.

While the importance of, and methods for, mordanting will be taught, in the interests of time, pre-mordanted fibres (using natural, non-toxic materials) will be provided (mordants are natural substances that help natural dyes to form strong molecular bonds with natural fibres).

Students Will Learn:

  • about Cape Breton’s first commercial dye plant trial (all grown organically) and our hopes for sustainably diversifying the island’s economy

  • about different types of fibres/textiles (i.e. protein vs. cellulose based fibres) and why they need to be treated differently (scouring & mordanting)

  • how to prepare plant material to maximize dye yield

  • how to prepare fibres to maximize colour uptake, wash and light fastness

  • how to create a range of hues from any given plant

  • natural post-dye treatments to protect fibres

  • good record keeping so that dye results can be reproduced