Last week during the Downtown Farmers Market artist Angela DiVeglia, from art in the park, put on a program for kids called “Growing Artfully”.
Angela is a self-taught visual artist. She works primarily with recycled fibers, cardboard, and other low-cost and discarded objects. Angela also has a lot of experience as a puppeteer. She apprenticed and performed with Bread and Puppet Theater and with the Mettawee River Theater Company, which led to her knowledge of how to create sturdy and imaginative objects out of free or low-cost materials. For “Art in the Park”, Angela created gigantic colorful truffula trees, a mountain, bright hanging hot air balloons, and a giant toaster that allowed the park to transform and imaginations to grow.
Angela’s project this week involved making dyes from plants and imprinting them on to fabrics. Angela came up with this project idea because she was looking for an interesting, non-cooking project to do with produce from the farmers market. “I thought about how red cabbage can be used as a fabric/fiber dye (as well as a pH indicator), and then I decided that since I’m really into yarn, maybe I should dye some wool yarn with local plants, flowers, roots, and vegetables,” Angela said.
The take-home project at the market was designed so that kids and families could explore plant pigments on their own. Angela mentioned that she “collected flowers and leaves from all kinds of plants growing along the banks of the Woonasquatucket River in Olneyville, and we used them to make pounded flower prints on fabric and watercolor paper.” She later explained “Basically, you pound the plants with a hammer, which breaks down the fibers and releases their natural pigments onto the fabric’s surface.”
To dye the yarn the local plants she used included: goldenrod, red sumac, poke berries, and blackberry leaves. She gathered these plants (sustainably!) in Neutaconkanut Park in the Silver Lake neighborhood. She also used a red cabbage from local farm, red zinnias from her community garden plot, and turmeric and locally roasted coffee grounds from her kitchen.
Angela’s next “Growing Artfully” project will be on September 3rd at the Downtown Farmers Market. She will be instructing families to leaf rubbings. She will also bring yarn and a hole punch to make the rubbings into the beginnings of field journals.
If your are interested in doing your own dye projects Angela recommended taking a look at Sasha Duerr’s “The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes”, as well as Bobbi McRae’s “Colors From Nature.”