I've resisted exploring natural dyeing with the ancestral trees I've been 'working' with for some time now. Mostly because I wanted to establish a connection of sentipensamiento , a feel-thinking with the trees and plants first before taking and using tree and plant materials directly. And so after 2 years of sensing my way through re-establishing connection to ancestral trees and plants, I am just now beginning to develop dye liquors and very small scale natural dye experiments.
This has meant a huge shift in how I work as I can be impatient and if I don't see immediate progress I can get discouraged and abandon projects for long periods of time and/or sometimes I like to have so many things on the go I don't do any of the projects justice! I have been under the very gentle yet firm and caring guidance of ancestors Ombú/Lajau, Jacaranda and Yerba/Cáa Yarí. Rather than over emphasising technique and process for achieving a particular colour, strength of dye or result I have been continuing to practice feel-thinking as I co-create recipe/poetry with the plantcestors.
I especially love that with Yerba it is a herb I consume as a tea, the left over wet tea pulp is kept for dye and also fresh yerba leaves are dried and crushed to make a sahumeiro (incense), the left over ash is then kept and combined with the pulp to make the dye. Rather than boiling the dye in a pot on the stove I have placed experiments in glass jars on the balcony for the sun's rays to transform. I was inspired to use this method of solar dying by the beautiful work of artist Katie West, you can learn more about her practice at https://katiewularniwest.com/home.html and see her solar dying technique here https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/my-garden-path---katie-west/12297974