Steep Ravine is perched on the Pacific Ocean, north of San Francisco. Well preserved cabins with wood burning fireplaces dapple flowered inclines. Raucous waves crash below and coastal scrub forests maintain a protective perimeter.
My first visit to Steep Ravine took place in January for the Juniper Ridge Winter Redwood harvest. Each year the wildcrafting team returns here to set up base camp, hike out and collect test plants for a Field Lab perfume.
There is a wilderness hike and ecology lesson with Juniper Ridge founder, Hall. Each hiker builds their own scent experiment using a small cotton sack and native plants on their trail. The scent notes build onto one another and each bag holds its own beauty.
I set up a dye station using Toyon and Coastal Sage I harvested that morning. Raw silk
bandanas that I sewed and mordanted in advance of the trip are the canvas. They accept color beautifully and are sturdier for camping accessories. While everyone was hiking, I dip dyed their bandanas in the sage bath gleaning a bright goldenrod and sent wafts of sweet mint over the camp. When they returned we applied shibori to our bandanas and dropped them into the Toyon bath.
There’s Colin holding up his work and the bandanas mid-soak in the sage bath.
After hiking, dyeing and distilling, we retired to the campfire and ate stew under a blanket of stars.
Visit Juniper Ridge for Harvest Stories and Wilderness Perfume. by clicking here.
Juniper Ridge hosted a gathering in Joshua Tree back in February. The high desert weather can be unforgiving that time of year but it was clear and beautiful. Still adjusting to the cool, calm and collected Bay Area weather- I recharged in the hot desert sun, grateful for the opportunity to sweat.
Our small group from Oakland gathered quietly the first night then parted to get some rest for the busy days ahead.
The second evening sprawled out under the star filled sky. Steady whispers grew from the darkness into bustling talk and laughter. We fell silent when Melaena Cadiz sang by the campfire against a glowing rock wall backdrop. Poets sang and campers squeezed in to listen and share the campfire.
Each tent had its own origins. Pete and Tony of Tellason came in from San Francisco, Mats and Kari of Indigofera flew into southern California and rode in on bikes, Cate of Havstad Hat Co drove down from Oregon, Margaux and Walter of Peg and Awl traveled in with their boys, Noel and Fletcher of Gnome Life sold albums, and the Fellow Barber crew flew in from east and west and constructed a barber shop on the desert floor.
I hosted a native plant and indigo dye station both Thursday and Friday. I packed Mt. Tam-native Toyon and coastal sagebursh but the night before the event, I tested a different plant, native to the desert and a fragrant contributor to Juniper Ridge harvests: Creosote. Oily and covered in flowers, I submerged the whole plant in warm water and a golden hue poured out. Testing fabric samples as the resinous florals wafted over me in the steam, I bathed in the discovery of this new dye plant, hearty with color.
Everyone delighted in overdyeing the creosote golds with indigo. Rob Jungmann brought hemp tees from Jungmaven for the dye baths. Jody Dunphy of Second Nature Project made and dyed hemp paper from Jungmaven production waste. A few artisans dyed their wares. Morten of For Holding up the Trousers dyed his handmade suspenders, pictured far left in photo below.