Book Review | “Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye projects for your home & wardrobe” by Sasha Duerr #BloggingForBooks

Posted Thursday, 27 April, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I decided to join the “Blogging for Books” programme (on 9th July, 2014) which is a book for review programme created by the Crown Publishing Group. As a book blogger you are offered books in exchange for an honest review on your book blog as well as the ability to reach new readers when you cross-post your review to the Blogging for Books website. The benefit for the blogger is exposure as a reviewer as they put direct links back to your blog post on the book you select to review as well as your homepage.

I received a complimentary copy of “Natural Color” direct from the publisher Watson-Guptill (an imprint of Crown Publishers), in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to review a book about Natural Dyes:

As I have intermittently tweeted on Twitter and mentioned off-handedly on my blog, I am a knitty girl at heart who loves creating projects out of the stitches she casts onto her bamboo needles! The afterglow of feeling the Zen of creativity by knitting is wondrous, too! I feel renewed somehow by the method of focusing on stitches and the throwing of yarn one inch at a time whilst creating this wholly new ‘something’ out of what as once a simple hank or skein of yarn!

I took up knitting alongside my Mum, as we were seeking a new Mum & daughter hobby we could pursue together that was a bit easier on the budget than rubberstamp art & mixed media collage; inasmuch as saving on long distance commute times, as the former only had shoppes which were so far afield from our local region, you had to nearly take a TARDIS just to arrive home in time! Laughs. No seriously! We felt it was time to re-direct our time and creative hearts – so whilst I was saying ‘good-bye’ to my twenties we discovered we both were itching to take up knitting!

Mum was returning to the craft after *forty!* plus years absent from it’s yarny blissitude and I, was the dyslexic whose previously failed attempt to learn how to properly cast-on was not going to blind her to the prospect of finding a teacher *somewhere!* who could get her to master the long lost art by combining two styles of knitting to formulate her own hybrid style! The way I approach knitting is AmeriBritish inasmuch as my personal writing voice reflects the unique combination of bi-continental influences!

When we first started to notice we were ‘catching-on’ to knitting together with a fierce passion, we started to dream a bit about what we could do in the future with our ‘newfound’ love and skill set! Mum was re-encouraging herself to contemplate picking up crochet on the side; whereas I decided that would muddle knitting for me if I attempted it. (too confusing to keep it all separate!) Whilst I started leaning towards natural dyes, more complicated patterns (ie. my heart is set on learning Fair Isle!) and potentially learning how to spin roving.We started to contemplate how to move forward in our journey with fiber arts, each finding our own pathways to walk! Some of what we want to do is together and a few times we’ll divert and take separate paths!

The beauty for us both, is finding a green and natural way to craft! I developed several allergies in childhood and as an adult, I live as green as I can by using alternative household products and by seeking out arts and craft projects which do not upset my allergy triggers by the toxicity of products which tend to flood the market. This is one reason why we love using Natural Yarns (except for the synthetics we sometimes receive as Charity Knitters; such as Acrylic); and by extension, a natural way to dye our own yarn would be quite ideal! Hence why I was so wicked excitement when I first saw this book come up for review! Imagining how we could take our love of this craft one step further and find ways to ‘create our own fiber colour palette’ naturally would be incredible!

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Book Review | “Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye projects for your home & wardrobe” by Sasha Duerr #BloggingForBooksNatura Color
Subtitle: Vibrant plant dye projects for your home and wardrobe
by Sasha Duerr
Source: Publisher via Blogging for Books

A beautiful book of seasonal projects for using the brilliant spectrum of colors derived from plants to naturally dye your clothing and home textiles.

Organized by season, Natural Color is a beautifully photographed guide to the full range of plant dyes available, drawn from commonly found fruits, flowers, trees, and herbs, with accompanying projects.

Using sustainable methods and artisanal techniques, designer, artist, and professor Sasha Duerr details achievable ways to apply these limitless color possibilties to your home and wardrobe. Whether you are new to dyeing or more practiced, Duerr’s clear and simple ingredients lists, step-by-step instructions, and detailed breakouts on techniques such as shibori, dip-dye, and block printing will ensure beautiful results.

With recipes to dye everything from dresses and sweaters to rugs and napkins, Natural Color will inspire fashion enthusiasts, home decorators, textile lovers, and everyone else who wants to bring more color into their life.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781607749363

Genres: Art & Art History, Homemade Crafts & Hobbies, Knitting & Yarn, Natural Dyes & Textile Art, Non-Fiction


Published by Watson-Guptill

on 23rd August, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 272

 Published By: Watson-Guptill

(an imprint of Crown Publishing Group)

Available Formats: Hardcoverr & Ebook

Converse on Twitter via: #Knitting, #NaturalDye + #NaturalColorBook & #BloggingForBooks

About Sasha Duerr

SASHA DUERR is an artist, designer, and advocate for the slow fashion movement who works with organic dyes, alternative fibers, and the creative reuse of materials. She is a professor at the California College of the Arts with a joint appointment in textiles and fine arts. Her work has been shown in galleries and museums across the United States and abroad.

In 2007 Duerr founded the Permacouture Institute with the Trust for Conservation Innovation to encourage the exploration of fashion and textiles from the ground up. Her extensive work with plant-based dyes and ecological principles through local land-based sources and community has been featured in the New York Times, American Craft Magazine, Selvedge, and the Huffington Post. She is the author of The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes.

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reflections on the author’s intro:

As Duer announces to the reader how she came to appreciate the natural world – spilt between the coasts of Maine and Hawaii, I fondly reflected on my living attachment to the natural world. I did not get to live in more than one ecological region (except for brief visits and our interludes as a traveller) but I did have the natural world beckoning me to entreat inside natural habitats from a very young age. I also understand the draw to being near a large body of water and of walking on nature paths which hug close to forests. There is definitely something to be said for being one with nature, this much I can attest to being true for myself as well. I always feel renewed and uplifted whenever I spend time outside. You can even teach yourself a living palette of colour by observing the changing seasons; as nature has it’s own colour wheel which is on display throughout the year.

I understood dearly how the author had developed a creative expression to bring each ‘colour’ to life – I had my own issues trying to get teachers to understand why ‘red’ was not just ‘red’ but something more; something different and depending on the light or texture or moment of presence, the colour altered it’s state of hue and colour definition. This can be said for all colours but sometimes others who are not as clued into nature and the natural palette of how colours are transformative to their natural environ, people tend to only see what is in front of them: the proverbial ‘stop sign’.  I knew exactly why her heart loved being ecologically inspired to create wholly original and natural products by upcycling and reusing materials straight from the land and local environs from which she lived. To live on Earth is to understand the cyclic nature of this world. We are each responsible (at some point) for creating a lighter footprint and for being a gentle presence in the world. To find ways to reduce our impact and to use what is naturally occurring around us to create new art and items for personal use is part of our legacy we’re still developing to leave behind.

I had to smile when Duer mentioned switching mediums for art; I used to create using oils to paint but I noticed as I aged, the ingredients needed to use to maintain that medium was no longer agreeable to me. This is also why I make different choices when using mixed media collage materials, too. I am not willing to sacrifice my own health for the sake of ‘art’ as so many others do. I still find it incredibly reckless how some card makers who used mixed media techniques will use bleach instead of opting for a more natural alternative of vinegar! They like the effect bleach gives to ‘take colour’ out of their projects and the paper itself; however, imagine the effect of that choice on their health? I also am careful about inks I use or other materials; if there is an ‘out-gassing’ smell, I will not use it. That’s not a healthy sign at all but when I’m around others; not everyone agrees with my due diligence to keep my artistic pursuits natural and healthy (as best I can). So in some ways, I understand the path which led Duer to seeking out a healthy artistic life because it is similar to my own pursuits as an artist.

I also agree with her on how we’ve lost a connection between fair producing practices and fair uses for the origins of our textiles, clothes and any product which is dyed or wearable much less artistically creative in the hobby arts. I have long since observed that what we wear and what we use in our lives have a lasting effect on our health. My family has been pro-positive and active in reducing our chemical reactions to everything that could cause us harm whilst being mindful there is still a long way to go to further reducing our living environment with toxicity. Just to be mindful of the risks and the harm being done is half the battle. Finding replacements for everything is an uphill climb which we’ve been doing for just shy of twenty years.

I love how she found the answers in the biodiversity of our natural world. Of walking through forests and other environs to seek out the ‘true’ colours and hues which are naturally occurring whilst figuring out how you can use these colours yourself. I also agree about the importance of ‘dying seasonally’ as this is similar to how we’re meant to be eating through a seasonal harvest of locally sourced foods. I used to eat through the seasons and I did eat by what my local farmers were harvesting until a moment arose where hardship and adversity became a firm presence in my life. One day, I intend to return to the more natural way of eating and finding the joy is truly in the vibrancy of the seasonal offerings which can be a refreshing change to the mindset of eating out of order with the natural world.

I love naturally dyed fibers. Sometimes I think fiber is perfectly fine in it’s natural state; dye doesn’t need to be used at all times. However, by find out how to dye fiber through natural processes is something that is of keen interest for a girl who wants to live sustainably off her own land and find a way of parring down her dependence on commercial sources for everyday needs and wants such as food.

My review of Natural Color:

Duer begins her natural colour book of inspiration by presenting the tools of the trade needed to set-up your own personal studio at home. She breaks down the basics of what is required knowledge as a novice dyer as much as giving you a guide of understanding towards what is involved before you ever dye one piece of fiber. This is great because it gives you a point by point reference of what you need to acquire and what is required after you have everything assembled. When she starts to discuss natural fibers, the ones she lists as compared to the ones I’ve used myself have a few overlaps: alpaca, wool, cotton and hemp. I also like using Llama fiber as similar to alpaca, it’s a lush and soft fiber which knits up beautifully!

When she talks about keeping a swatch book of the natural dyes you can use year-round as each Season takes it’s turn in your region, I smiled because this is similar to how you can keep a record of the inks you use in mixed media collage. I love how you can have a full journal of ‘colour’ with notes about how you processed it, what hue you saw when you made the batch and the particulars of how to re-create it another year.

As the natural world is anchoured and hinged to the seasons, so too, is Duer’s approach to explain how to find the colours which can enrich your fiber art world. She starts in Spring and takes her time to highlight the benefits and beauties found during each seasonal quarter of the year. Underneath the different sections, she points your mind to the ingredients you will be working with and need to find in order to properly understand the bounty of that season’s offerings. It is not surprising Spring would yield a world of pastels; as this is what is commercially represented too. A bit of a bane of my ire, as sometimes I think pastels become too muted to be appreciated but I was surprised by the choices in hue Duer presented in this section as it made me reconsider my impression that Spring isn’t a season I’d enjoy using natural dyes.

As you would expect in a ‘cookbook’ for kitchen adventures, so too, does this lovely book come with recipes to try whilst you start to embrace the natural dye lifestyle. In fact, it is through these recipes you start to see what is potentially possible to create in the seasons where your already celebrating the fruits of your labours in the garden. You can turn those abundant yields into more than edible food for your plate and create homemade gifts or items you could use yourself in your everyday life. The front cover is inspired by ‘Summer’ as the colours start to enrich through the passage of Spring where the fire of Summer can be seen in the deepening colours, allowing a more contextual atmosphere and mood to match your own emotional heart. If of course similar to me, your living in an environment which tests your temper for how extreme the weather and temperatures can affect your personal mood.

One thing I found especially wonderful, is most of the book can be laid ‘flat’ as you read it. This is a gift as you start to want to use the recipes Duer provides, you’ll want to take handwritten notes about what you’ll need to buy in order to start creating. If the book wasn’t able to lie flat, it would make creating a list a bit more complicated! I personally was lost in the pictures – of what you can create but also by what is used in nature to give the sheen of colour such a resplendent light of joy. Colours are a lift of spirit in of their own musings; they tempt you by their presence because each colour is individually different from another. You feel something each time you see a colour and by definition, a colour can mirror your own mood or give you something happy to ponder; perhaps even a memory of where you’ve seen that colour previously. All of life is a measure of our experiences and our personal inclinations to understand our life and our world. By playing with colour, we’re allowing ourselves to take it a step further and dimensionally see things that we might have been remiss to observe.

on the layout & writerly intuitive style of Duer:

The first you notice when you open this lushly illustrated book is how much care and attention went into producing it! The moment you broach into the  interior content, you feel at ease – like somehow you’ve left your worries and concerns from your life behind, whilst you drink in the beauty and the creative inspiration found inside this wonderful book written with a knitter’s heart in mind! At least, this is my reaction – if your a fiber artist of another variety, you will find equal enjoyment out of reading this book, because the content is awe-inspiring! The palette of colours celebrated inside is as refreshing as walking through a mountain meadow! You do not want for colour! Instead, your heart soars along with the colours being explored – the tangible way in which you feel drawn and attracted to ‘colour play’ by the hand of Duer is a blessing!

How many of us have wondered about the ‘next levels’ of our artistic endeavours? This is a tome of insight and a delight to the senses to feast on the imagery being provided to explore the author’s path towards using natural dying techniques! The photography is the best gift given in this book aside from the advice! Honestly, as soon as you open the pages, you’re entering into a different world where splashes of colour entice you forward and where the fullness of the palettes explored (spilt through Seasons!) implores you to start to think about your own ‘colour play’ hours and how you could start to insert what is being shared into your own creative life!

Duer has an intuitive way about how she presents this lovely resource guide for fiber artists and enthused souls who are just embarking on their fiber art journey! She encourages you with the photoplay illustrating the work she’s doing to create the natural dyes (she truly lucked out when it comes to photographers to work alongside!) and it’s the way in which she articulates how to do the work behind the dye work which makes it a pleasurable read! You can tell she enjoyed assembling this together simply by how much heart sings as she shares a portion of her own blissitude in being a natural colourist!

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This book review is courtesy of: Blogging for Books

Blogging for Books - book for review programme for book bloggers

Somewhere between when I first received this beautiful book which celebrates knitting & a fiber artist’s life and today; a lot of ‘life’ was being lived. So much so, I cannot remember when I received it nor each reason why I was delayed in posting my review. It has been a good source of light & joy to read through; whilst being inspired by the layout of the author’s quest to endeavour all of us to dream in colour & find our own creative path with Natural Colouring processes as fiber artists. I do regret the time which slipped through my fingers; some of this was due to personal illness last year (my migraines) and of course, everything has felt upturnt since last November when my father had his stroke (see post).

Therefore it’s a joy now to finally share why this book impacted my life in the way that it did and this is my note of gratitude back to the publisher & the author; of whom have inspired me as I continue to knit & improve my skills.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments on behalf of this review. Especially if you read the novel or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same novel to read on a blog tour or for review.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Natural Color”, book synopsis, author biography and the Blogging for Books badge were provided by Blogging for Books and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Fiber Art Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Giulia Bertelli and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

I’m a social reader | I love sharing my reading life

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 27 April, 2017 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Blogging for Books, Book Review (non-blog tour), Eco-Friendly, Education & Learning, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Solutions, Green-Minded Social Awareness, Horticulture, Knitting, Non-Fiction, Old World Arts & Crafts, Sustainability & Ecological Preservation, The Natural World, Upcycle & Recycle Practices




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