Dye Assist // Wildcraft Studio School

Cherry Plum Tree dye bath
Cherry Plum Tree dye bath

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.

Walnut dye bath
Walnut dye bath

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.

Follow WildCraft Studio School on Instagram, here.


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.

Cindy & Doug's home in Healdsburg, CA
Cindy & Doug’s home in Healdsburg, CA

Interested in attending one of WildCraft Studio School’s Classes? Click here.

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Dye Assist // Wildcraft Studio School

Sleep Steep Ravine

Steep Ravin cabins at sunrise
Steep Ravin cabins at sunrise

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.

Indigo dyed cloth from home for shade
Indigo dyed cloth from home for shade

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.

Silk noil soaking in sage bath
Silk noil soaking in sage bath

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.

Photo by Jourdan Vouga
Photo by Jourdan Vouga

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.

Read Huckberry’s story about the trip here.


*Steep Ravine is one of the most sought after campgrounds in the bay area. Interested in booking a cabin? Make sure to log on 6 months ahead of time when the cabins are first posted for reservations.

Sleep Steep Ravine