WildCraft Studio School is a creative mecca for traditional skills, plant medicine, studio art and craft, located in White Salmon, Washington. If you’re a dyer, chances are- you follow WIldCraft in some format. Founder Chelsea Heffner drove down from the PNW to teach a native plant dye workshop in partnership with Healdsburg SHED owners, Cindy Daniel & Doug Lipton. Chelsea and I met over the airways and I drove up to assist with an unexpected large class on May 31st.
Chelsea is a multi-disciplinary artist and Assistant Professor at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. She led the workshop and a native plant walk through Cindy and Doug’s wild gardens before harvesting several dye plants for the class to test. Among them were wild fennel, cherry plum tree, and black walnut.
We simmered the baths for 30-45 minutes before filtering them into dye vessels. Each student had silk and wool samples, mordanted with various minerals. They took turns soaking their samples in steaming baths- some experimenting with shibori. By the end of the class, we’d tested 7 natural plant dyes.
My favorite moment was a listening to a conversation between Chelsea and another participant about a weaving class she’d hosted. The artist and teacher, a Native American man, was reluctant to teach anyone outside of the tribe. He made an exception and taught Chelsea’s favorite workshop to date- a highly challenging, multi-day workshop on hat weaving with native plants. Chelsea said each student walked away full of appreciation and pride.
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Cindy and Doug’s home was an enchanting backdrop to the workshop. They built the home after returning from an inspiring stay in France and added sustainable features like rammed earth walls. Although they have an orchard and some landscaping, they’ve been working to restore the rest of the property to wild native gardens.
Interested in attending one of WildCraft Studio School’s Classes? Click here.