Video From Live FEEDBACK FRIDAY: Donna Brown of the Janice Ford Memorial Dye Garden

Our last FEEDBACK FRIDAY was with Donna Brown of the Janice Ford Memorial Dye Garden. Donna is a textile artist, natural dyer and teacher of natural dyes and it’s multiple possibilities for the past 30 years. Donna will tell the story of the Janice Ford Memorial Dye Garden at the Denver Botanic Garden which is a natural dye garden that she started in 2014.

Watch last week’s video recording here.

Donna has taught natural dyeing internationally and at institutions based in the United States, such as Penland School of Crafts and John C. Campbell Folk School. She is also a member of the Rocky Mountain Weaver’s Guild and helps to run the Janice Ford Memorial Dye Garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens’ Chatfield Farms. The Janice Ford Memorial Dye Garden is a place where community members learn to grow and use plants for dyeing yarn, fabric and basketry materials.

Speaking of gardens, shop all our dye seeds here!

Listen to Donna on the Natural Dye Podcast here.

Kathy mentioned a bunch of organizations supporting efforts in Ukraine. Here’s her list of where you might want to consider supporting:

World Central Kitchen
Donations to the International Rescue Committee
The UN Refugee Agency
Obama Foundation to help people in Ukraine

More about Donna:

“I work on a 50 acre native plant refuge and working farm housing the Hildebrand Ranch, a historic homestead with cutting and herb gardens I am a passionate natural dyer and teach others the art in venues across the United States and abroad. I am also a weaver and member of the Rocky Mountain Weavers Guild (RMWG). In 2013 the RMWG received a donation from the Ford family in memory of their daughter, Janice Ford, who was an active RMWG member. RMWG approached me to do a natural dye workshop with the monies received –knowing Janice’s love of color. I instead suggested the money be used to start a dye garden. What an opportunity to bring a dream to a reality! With the guild’s approval, I met with Larry Vickerman (Director of the DBG Chatfield Farms) who loved the idea.  The RMWG also committed to additional funding to complete the garden irrigation and fencing.

Starting in the fall of 2013 a RMWG natural dye group was formed to start researching and selecting dye plants that were appropriate for our area. Some plants were chosen because they are well known, such as Marigolds, Coreopsis, Black-eyed Susan and Cosmos. Other plants, such as Madder and Indigo, were chosen because of what colors they produce. Still others, such as Weld and Dyer’s Broom, were picked because of their historic nature.
This garden is a joint project begun in 2013 by the family of Janice Ford, Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Rocky Mountain Weavers Guild (RMWG) Natural Dye Garden Project. Plants in the Dye Garden include both perennials and annuals that yield wonderful natural dyes that can be used to color yarns, fabrics and basketry materials. Among the plants in the garden are indigo, black hollyhocks; yellow, orange and red cosmos; dyer’s chamomile; weld; cota; Hopi sunflowers; madder; black-eyed susan and dyer’s broom.

Volunteers who work in the garden learn to grow and use plants for dyeing yarn, fabric and basketry materials. Members of the project support various outreach events sponsored by Denver Botanic Gardens, RMWG and various local civic and historical organizations, demonstrating spinning, weaving and dyeing. Visitors may see demonstrations at the Lavender Festival at Chatfield Farms, Denver Botanic Gardens’ children’s camps, the National Western Stock Show and other local history day events.”


If you are not familiar with FEEDBACK FRIDAY, every week we speak with dyers, artists, scientists and scholars about our favorite topic, natural dyeing and color. Curated by Amy DuFault, Botanical Colors’ Sustainability and Social Media Director and presented by Botanical Colors’ Founder  Kathy Hattori.

We even have our own theme song thanks to musician Jimmie Snider (click here to hear more of his music)!