Dyed in the Wool

These images are from a photo package that I worked on about a Navajo weaving and dyeing workshop. Since other photographers have recently done other stories on weaving I opted to focus my attention on the first day of the workshop which dealt with using native plants to create dyes for the yarn they would weave with.

Laura Martis, left, and Paula Williams gather up ground lichen as the first step in dyeing wool.

Mark Deschinny displays a clump of ground lichen that he collected near Oak Springs, Ariz. The plant creates a rusty orange color when it is boiled and used to dye wool and yarn.

Laura Martis points to one of the plants in the dye chart that workshop instructor Isabell Deshinney shows them during a discussion about the different colors that can be created by various plants on the Navajo Nation.

Workshop instructor Isabell Deschinny explains to her students how to prepare yarn and properly tie the skeins before dyeing it, so that it does not become tangled and the color is uniform.

After gathering ground lichen and sage branch tips, participants in Isabell Deschinny's plant dyeing and weaving workshop use rocks to grind up the sage before boiling it to get the color out of the plants.

Isabell Deschinny pours water that has been colored by boiling sage branches in it into a large pot as she prepares to dye yarn using natural plants as her son, Mark Deschinny watches. Deschinny, who teaches Navajo weaving at the University of New Mexico-Gallup, also teaches week long dyeing and weaving classes at her home in Oak Springs, Ariz. At their feet is dye that was created by boiling ground lichen plants.

Courtney Ballenger, left, and Paula Williams use dowels to lift out the skeens of yarn out of the dye and check on its progress as they stir the pots to keep the yarn color consistent.

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