Alchemist Next Door: Organic Clothes That Heal

Hokahay! Today is a fine day to dye – natural dye, that is, in the back yard of our LEED-Platinum green home with a group of intrepid women gathered to learn about natural dye and integrative medicine. Our group – moms, artists, gardeners, professors, activists – learned first about the toxic and completely unsustainable conventional clothing industry, and then dived deep into another model. That model, introduced to me by Eco-Artist Rebecca Burgess, is about creating clothes that heal, clothes that are radically local, and rather than harming you through your skin and also the workers who make them, they leave no impact, no residue, no or very little carbon footprint.

Above you see the range of color that Rebecca has gathered locally from plants such as black walnut, horsetail, indigo, cosmos, sage, and eucalyptus.

We made a vat of dried cosmos and added boiling water. Let sit for a few minutes and it’s ready – rather like tea….

I love the black walnuts, gathered by urban foraging (below).


Here are some of the menu items in our dye buffet: horsetail, madrone, coffeeberry, logwood, black walnut, cosmos and coreopsis.


We dyed some local wool in Logwood (below).


Here is some silk long underwear and a scarf from the Logwood dye vat that I did.