Students in field

Natural Dye Garden at the Finnish American Folk School

October 29, 2021

Autumn is usually the time of year when gardeners put their plots to bed for the long winter, but last month members of the Buellwood Weavers and Fiber Artists Guild gathered at the Finnish American Folk School in Hancock, Michigan to break ground on a natural dye garden.

Dyeing yarn and fabric with plants and other natural materials is a traditional craft still practiced today in Finland. Here in Michigan’s Keweenaw, local fiber artists grow and gather materials to create a wide-ranging palette of colors. Buellwood Guild members and other Folk School supporters will donate plants, seeds, and time to get the garden started at the Lily I. Jutila Center. Some of the many plants you can expect to see starting next summer include black hollyhock which makes purple dye, coreopsis major for orange, dyer’s knotweed for blue, and madder for red.

Once established, the garden will offer guild members and Folk School students opportunities to learn about natural dyeing from the soil to the finished product. “The plants will provide dye for future workshops and classes and provide an inviting entry to the Finnish American Folk School fiber studio,” says director Phyllis Fredendall. The space benefits from southern exposure and protection from prevailing winds and will be a productive and beautiful source of dye materials in the coming seasons.

The Finnish American Folk School at Finlandia University was founded in 2017 to promote knowledge of Finnish folk arts and traditional skills and ensure that they thrive for generations to come. The Folk School is based in the Jutila Center Fiber Studio and the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock, Michigan. Those interested in learning more about the Buellwood Guild can visit their blog www.mwc2011.blogspot.com.  Information about the Finnish American Folk School is available at www.finlandia.edu/fahc/finnish-american-folk-school.

Article provided by Clare Zuraw of the Finnish American Folk School.

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