Monday, October 2, 2017

Nature Love & Natural Dyes

I'm thrilled to be helping develop a few sessions of Nature Love in October. We want to create artwork inspired by, and incorporating, natural materials found at our Farm Day location.

I'm so used to blogging as a way to brainstorm, I can't imagine doing it any other way anymore. Why take handwritten notes when you can have live links to project and pictures which inspire you? I usually blog little projects and make web pages for big projects (like developing a main lesson block).

I have always wanted to make black walnut ink and have us practice our penmanship with it. And ever since I heard that the Declaration of Independence was written with pokeberry ink... well... it goes without saying that I want to try making that too!

The great thing about homeschooling is that your "I always wanted to do that..." things come to life! Here is my brainstorm process in action:


  • Make Black Walnut Dye, for fabric dyeing
  • Make Black Walnut Ink
      we are already planning on working with fountain pens this year, so this would be perfect!

      we could compose poetry inspired by the Farm and then write it in our ink

      and, actually, we are in our "Wonder, Wish & Surprise" creative writing block so that would be an awesome fit!

  • "A Southern Recipe for Natural Ink" New York Times article - pokeberry ink
  • Fermented Pokeberry Ink Manufacture Fountain Pen Network article
  • Natural Dyes - Harvesting Osage Orange
  • Natural Dyes - Osage Orange, for fabric dyeing
  • Dye Plants for Eco-Dyeing and Eco-Printing, long list
  • Paper Prints - Pecan Leaves
      I want to move away from fabric dyeing for now because we want to do framed art, but I think we can definitely dye some wool and cotton yarns and use them in knitting or weaving projects in the classroom
  • more pics of eco leaf prints
  • Hapazome, direct printing which uses a rubber mallet instead of an iron
      looks like this would be really fun for the kids! we could use the plants from the medicinal herb garden...

      there are also projects like this in Nature's Art Box - Hammering on Paper on page 107, Hammering on Cloth on page 109, Fantastic Creatures on page 117, Painting with Petals and Leaves on page 130


  • Nature's Art Box: From t-shirts to twig baskets, 65 cool projects for crafty kids to make with natural materials you can find anywhere

  • also, block printing with natural dyes
      it would be so fun to do this, maybe with geometric designs carved into old wine corks!
  • One last idea... I love this printing Autumn leaves activity. GORGEOUS!
      The vein side of the leaf was inked with a big brush and white paint. Composition and positive and negative space was emphasized. Some students used overlapping to create depth. The background was sponge painted with white and blue leaving black around the edges of the leaves to create contrast. Colored pencils were used to add color to the leaves.

      I'm going to assume from the images that this was done on black paper.



  • Having considered all of that, here are my current thoughts about what I'd like us to do. Feel free to chime in, give feedback, and make suggestions!

    Session One: collect black walnuts and pokeweed berries, start ink making processes, write poetry about being at the Farm

    Session Two: use black walnut ink and pokeweed ink, create block printing design, use fountain pens to add words from our poetry

    Session Three: collect leaves, do "Fantastic Creatures" hammering activity from Nature's Art Box

    Session Four: collect leaves, do printing & painting activity from Artsonia


    1 comment:

    Hilary Chandler said...

    Brilliant, Renee- one childcare session several years ago Shine and I fooled arovnd with pokeberry ink- it will work well!

    There are a lot of osage oranges both at the barn and down in the lower garden plot- i love that investigation as well as the black walnvts.

    So that yov know the Carbondale Pvblic Library FKS workshop is also looking at doing word art-with carved block printing- going off the bookplate with Alphabet idea. I like the poetry-illstrated poetry plan.