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Current Class Offerings

River Bend Bounty 

With the sun, prairie, and woodlands of River Bend Nature Center you can bring new life to your creative work. If you are a knitter, quilter, painter, artist wannabe. and/or naturalist join us to identify colors you can extract from plants, trees & minerals using it to dye natural fibers.

August Course at River Bend Nature Center(RBNC). (For Ages 55+) Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning August 1 from 9AM-11AM with a concluding event August 29th. Time tbd for the final event. Tuition: Member: $120, Non-Member: 144. (Scholarships available.)

If you are a member at RBNC, contact the Paradise to receive the membership tuition price!

Indigo Fresh Leaf Cold Extraction

For beautiful turquoise colors, the students will dye a silk scarf or bandana with fresh indigo
leaves and cold water. They will watch the color go from greens to sky blue, to turquoise and
many shades in between.
They will also see a demo using salt and fresh leaves instead of cold water.
The students will take home a dyed silk scarf or bandanna and a sample card with both cold
water and salt dyed silk samples.

Summer Class Dates and Times: TBA

Inks made with Natures Gentle Colors

The students will become familiar with a basic ink-making process using easily source local materials. Two inks will be prepared in class depending on available materials. Possibilities include marigold, black walnut, avocados, or onion skins. A pop can calligraphy pen will also be made in class. These inks can be used with dip pens and brushes on paper.

Summer Class Dates and Times: TBA

Past Class Offerings

Colors Close to Home

This class is an overview of locally sourced material, processes, resources and interest in future classes. During this free two-hour information session we will discuss the abundance of natural materials available to you to make colors for dyes, inks, watercolors and more.

If you’re curious and a garden enthusiast, nature lover, or forager you can learn how to make colors from garden plants and flowers, from food scraps or nature’s materials from the woods, prairies, ditches and streams. Quilters, knitters, costumers, felters, seamstresses, or persons repurposing favorite clothes can learn about natural dyeing. Artists can learn about inks, watercolors, pigments and botanical printing.  Discover the color from avocados, onion skins, and marigolds.

Color Power from Plants and Flowers

The students will learn about plant color and chemistry and several methods for applying color to paper and fabric. Add a little bit of lemon juice or soap and watch the color change before your eyes. We will steam leaf and flower prints onto paper, a canvas bag and a t-shirt.

Community Indigo Vat

Indigo is the blue dye that made a Levi Straus famous and it comes from a plant. Indigo was grown in the SE US in the early 1800s. Today there is a commercial indigo growing and processing operation in Tennessee. Many tobacco farmers have switched to growing indigo and there are smaller growers across the country.

The indigo vat is already made and you can bring a piece of cotton clothing, cloth, or linen napkins up to 5 ounces to dye, preferably white. I have organic cotton napkins, bandannas, market bags, and scarves available for purchase. If interested let us know when you sign up.

Participate in the community vat and learn more about this mysterious centuries old blue color. I may bring a vat made from indigo grown locally in Rice County.

Finding Gold in Wood Shavings-Digital Demo

Participants will see several cloth samples dyed with different wood and they will learn how to extract colors and use them for dying natural fabrics. They will learn about fabric preparation and several applications including home décor, apparel, and quilts.

Japanese Shibori and Indigo Dyeing 

Shibori is considered the eastern version of tie dying.  It is a manual tie dye creating more patterns and detail. During the class students will learn several resist techniques including hand stitching, string and rubber bands, folding and clamping, and pole wrapping.

We will make a plant based natural indigo vat and discuss some of the history of indigo growing and dyeing. It is said that indigo blue made Levi Strauss famous.

During class students will dye two organic cotton napkins with shibori patterns and another item of their choice. A cotton bandana or cotton and silk scarf. Students will take home a small indigo vat.

Marigold Magic making dyes, inks, and paints

Marigolds bring bright yellow color to our gardens and when we dead head the flowers they just keep growing. We will simmer the flowers in water, strain and separate into three containers. One will be used for dying cloth, one for making ink and one for extracting pigment for paints. The students will go home with samples of dyed cloth, a 30ml bottle of ink that can be used with a dip or calligraphy pen and a container of marigold pigment.

The Amazing Living Color that Surrounds us

Students will learn how to identify some local plants, flowers and food scraps that can be used for color. They will learn how the color is extracted and how fabric is prepared for dying.  Two dye pots will be prepared in class. They will take home two different colors of cotton and silk samples, two dyed cotton napkins, and a scarf.

Resources and tutorials for classes