Exploring natural Dyes in the Smokies with Sasha Duerr

Posted on July 10, 2013 by Sonja den Elzen



In June I was fortunate to enjoy a natural dye workshop for an abundant week at the Arrowmont Arts and Crafts School in the Smokies of Tennessee with an amazing teacher, Sasha Duerr.


We were introduced to a spectrum of delight through living colour, using foraged plants and kitchen compost matter to create beautiful, wonderful colours.  Avocado seeds producing beautiful peaches, orange peel the sweetest, softest yellow, red rose petals creating a smoky black you can only dream of. We played with turmeric and madder, dyes of the ages, purple cabbage that could change from purple to turquoise, pomegranate rinds giving us incredible greens, Japanese maple, peanut shells, sweet gum and their awesome spiky balls, lichen......oh I love lichen and now even more so.

Each time a colour would present itself in the pot our eyes would fill with the delight, connection and joy of the abundance our natural world has to offer.  With the excitement of foraging around the local forest to experiment with plants, trees, and other natural wonder, the connection to our beautiful earth growing deeper.  Added to that the connection to our food and finding further purpose to food waste and understanding more and more, that it is all connected. Plants, nourish, heal and provide beauty of colour. Beautiful living colour, that is far more vibrant, even when subtle due to having different underlying tones, that cannot be achieved with manufactured colour.  Living colour can combine with a far broader range of other living colours then manufactured colour in a far more exciting way for our senses. 


Seasons become more fascinating, and my curiosity in healing plants given an added dimension, I am really looking forward to exploring colour and seasons with the Thieves collection.

My drive home from the Smokies was filled with an ever growing curiosity and love for weeds, plants, trees and exploring their food, medicinal and dying properties.  I feel so grateful to have been introduced to this art and feel much gratitude to Sasha for sharing her knowledge in such a dynamic and delightful way.

Created with flickr slideshow.



Posted in healing, natural dye, sasha duerr, slow fashion

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