I was so excited to get home at lunch yesterday and find that my book order had arrived! Those who have already visited my Natural Dye CSA (community supported agriculture) website know that full shareholders will each receive a copy of Harvesting Color, by Rebecca Burgess with their first shipment. Readers following my contest (which ends May 17th, so there's still time to get more entries!) will remember that it is one of the prizes offered to the lucky winner amongst those helping me promote the CSA.
What you probably DON'T know is just how amazing and fabulous this book is... I was so impressed, feeling both hopeful and calmed by the information and beautiful photos. I always feel grounded and hopeful when I cross paths with someone else working hard to help protect Mother Earth, and Rebecca's advocacy for a return to deep connection with the clothing we wear and how we color it is very inspiring.
Here's the text of the review I wrote today for Amazon; if you don't purchase a share or win a copy from me, I hope you will order the book:
Rebecca Burgess' new book is an outgrowth of over a decade's worth of teaching natural dye plants and advocating for a more environmentally-friendly manner of creating our clothing. She worked on the book at the same time that she was 'living' the Fibershed Project, with the goal of only wearing clothing made from products within a 150-mile radius of her Marin County, California home. This book contains information about unique California native plants, such as toyon and coffeeberry, and the dye colors that they produce, but it is far more than simply a California guide.
Each featured plant is discussed and accompanied by a photo of the entire plant, often within its native habitat. Information about time to gather, how to cultivate, and parts of the plant to use for dyeing fibers are included, along with generous photos of yarns dyed in the colors obtained from each plant, and a map of the United States highlighting where the particular plant can be found growing in the wild.
Burgess brings her high standard of environmental consciousness into the book, stressing the importance of the choices we make in what we use as both consumers and artists. She discusses mordants (substances used to 'fix', or keep the dye in the fiber or fabric for the long term), and only advocates using materials that are non-toxic, both while in use in the dye process and when the wastes are disposed.
All technical material is easy to access by the DIYer, the home craftsperson or the professional artist. The book is organized around what is available each of the four seasons, and includes an appropriate project to use your hand-dyed yarns as well.
Paige Green's photography lifts this book into the realm of fine art, with massive amounts of beautiful pictures that highlight the plants, capture the colors dyed with them, and also portray the sense of harmony that Burgess advocates will come from being more connected to local production of our clothing. This book will appeal to many who are already working with fiber arts, and will also attract those who garden, and seek to live in a greener manner.