Olivia Harris

How to make a flag banner with natural dyes

Class of: 2024

Major: Photography BFA

Medium: Video

Faculty: Jessica Corr

Prompt: We were to create a tutorial on how to create natural dyes. It was required to dye a minimum of 6-9 swatches by using natural materials and changing the color by shifting the pH. The tutorial would also serve to document our process and experimentation with various materials.

For this project, I decided to create a video tutorial. I felt like it would be easier to truly document my entire process as well as showing what processes caused the various outcomes. I also decided to make my tutorial about how to make a flag banner so it felt like there was a goal to my video instead of just dyeing swatches. This also allowed me to display my swatches nicely at the end of my video.

One of the key parts of my dyeing process is I used natural wool for my swatches. In my tutorial, I use alum as a mordant since I am dyeing a protein fiber. This tutorial would not work for someone who is dyeing with cellulose fibers because alum would not allow the natural dye to soak into the textile. If one were to use iron as a mordant, they would be able to dye the cellulose fiber.

Through this project, I became more aware of how much potential simple, natural materials have. As designers and artists, we need to take advantage of materials that are renewable and create sustainable designs.