This past Saturday I taught a natural dye workshop in the backyard of my friend’s Cyd and Neal’s vintage store – The Grand Street Bakery. A vintage store set in a converted old bakery, fully equipped with awesome vintage threads hanging on repurposed baking racks, stocked with natural apothecary, magazines and generally some of the best vintage buys you can find in New York. They also have an incredible backyard space so I thought a food waste workshop in a converted bakery with vintage oasis? Perfect.
Working with donations from Reynard at the Wythe Hotel, and juice pulp from the Juice Witches in Williamsburg we started the day right by showing how when neighborhoods come together we can all contribute to making some really beautiful pieces with waste!
On the menu for dyeing with wastes were avocado peels, coffee grinds, onion skins and kale pulp. All combined these food wastes make beautiful color combinations.
Below is a recipe solely for avocado pits:
First, the students got to choose their garments from a pre-mordanted batch of vintage whites and then we were ready to start dyeing!
1. Scrape the peels and pits to make sure there is no green goodness still left on them. You can use a sponge to scrape and wash them out thoroughly.
2. With a rag, pat out all the moisture and leave to dry for at least one week. You can create separate colors from both the pits and peels but I like to throw them together to create a beautiful purple dusty rose color. This should dye approximately 3lbs of clothing. At the workshop we only dyed with the peels as the pits were not completely dry in time from my guacamole making marathon, and obtained a lovely purple hue.
3. To extract the color from the peels you boil for at least 1 – 2 hours and strain off into a non reactive pot or bucket. (I prepped this the night before so that the students could experiment with their own dye combinations.)
4. Fully wet your fiber. Place fiber in dye and leave on heat for at least one hour. I would then leave fibers to soak over night.
5. Remove and let air dry. Once dry, go over with a hot iron and voila! You have an avocado peel dyed garment!
(We also offered an indigo bucket as Cyd dyes her own indigo pieces for the shop! The students experimented with different shibori techniques and dye combinations to achieve some pretty beautiful results!)
Check out these end products with some pretty excited dyers!
Kan stuck with just the Indigo bucket but got some great stripes on his Nissan shirt.
Amy’s total avocado peel dyed shirt came out awesome too.
Cyd’s Onion skin dyed baby onesie!
Cara Marie Piazza is a Botanical Colors customer, natural yyer and textile designer living and producing her work in New York City.