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transportation of yellow burdock - VE.jpg


pigments vs. dyes

The main difference between the

two is dyes are soluble while pigments are insoluble. The colorant particles in dyes are much smaller than those in pigments allowing them to dissolve in liquid, pigment particle are larger meaning they suspend instead of dissolve. This results in a different interaction with materials. Dyes become chemically part of the material, whole pigments rest on top of

the material.

Natural pigments

are often thought of in

realtion to geological

biomaterial like ochre. I

gravitate towards the natural pigments that plants yield. The transformations that plant materials go through as you break them down and extract their color engages me in the life cycles of plants as a material. How do elements like heat and/or additives effect and change the plant material as well as the resulted pigment material?

I break down my pigment making into three stages:
harvesting, processing, and using. Through these three stages I am engaging with different elements of the plant material and

its environment.

Natural dyes found

a way into my practice

after stumbling upon the

anthotype process of printing. This Victorian photography process sparked my interested in process and is has become an important pinpoint in the timeline of my practice thus far. For more information on the importance of finding this

process please, visit the

about page. 


burdock leaves in pigment vat


burdock leaves beginning to breakdown in pigment vat


avocado skins and pits in dye vat


avocado skins and pits stained from dye


anthotype with avocado dye emulsion, for more

information on how I have used natural dyes in my practice, please visit my

photography page



burdock leaves broken down and ready to be strained from pigment vat



soda ash to burdock root pigment vat

This stage takes

place in a few forms. Sometimes I directly harvesting my chosen plant from the ground, other times I harvest from grocery stores or markets. Thirdly, I often harvest plant scraps from my diet. Each of these harvesting methods evoke different questions and result in different research.

Ground harvesting

leads me to think about the impact on the land and the role that particular plant plays in the local ecology. I remind myself not to over harvest because this plant is part of a larger system. 

When I source

from stores and markets, I am curious how far this material has traveled to get to this place. Where and how was it grown and what practices were used in its production? What impact does this crop have on the local economy as well as the economies of the importing nations? Do this economic benefits outweigh the environmental and/or ethical issues resulting from its production?

When I use plant scraps from my diet, I am thinking about what that plant has provided for me. What minerals and nutrients does that plant have and what impacts do they have on my body? Is supporting the production of this plant worth the positive impact on my being?

Extracting pigment

from my harvested plant material. Breaking down a plant from its recognizable state makes me very aware of the life I am taking away. I watch the plant go from lush and full of being to withered and mushed. When I am working with root material sometimes I watch new roots sprout as I am waiting inbetween steps. Watching these changes makes me questions why I have chosen to work with this life and how I can honor it.

recipe used for 

Transportation of Yellow Burdock


  • weigh dry plant material - when processing a whole plant (both roots and leaves) separate the two and process them individually - and messure the amount of alum potassium sulfate and soda ash - follow a simple 1:1/2:1/4 ratio (1 part plant, 1/2 part alum, 1/4 part soda ash)

  • add plant material to a dye pot, cover with water, and add alum

  • bring vat to a simmer and hold for 30-45 minutes - this will vary from plant to plant

  • strain the plant material from the bath and add the soda ash - do this a little at a time as the soda ash will foam up - and mix until the foam is disolved

  • filter the pigment from the liquid - to retain as much of the pigment as possible use a very fine mesh, I use linen fabric and often strain in stages

  • depending on the intended use of the pigment either let it dry to a power or keep wet

Yellow Burdock or Rumex crispus

is a very common invasive species native to Northern Europe. It is part of the Polygonaceae or buckwheat family and has many uses. Medicinally dock treats digestive issues, liver diseases, and skin irritations. 
Dock has small amounts of anthraquinone glycosides 
which is an effective laxative when used in large quantities. Dock is also referred to as a cholagogue because it can trigger a reflux of bile and digestive fluids. Nutritiously, dock holds vitamin C, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. 
There are many dock recipes including teas, stews, syrup, and more. 


As always, my natural processes practice is constantly growing, so please check back for updates or subscribe to stay in the loop with all things


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