By: Tanya Hebert
On a beautiful fall day back in October, the 6th grade Environmental Club took a walk to explore the arroyo on campus. We spent some time gathering bright gold flowers and stems from the native chamisa (rabbit brush) plants that grow abundantly here in the desert southwest. Chamisa is a plant that has been used for hundreds of years by the native peoples of the desert to dye yarn for weaving.
To make the dye, we boiled the chamisa stems and flowers for 3 hours and then strained the beautiful golden liquid. We then added alum as a mordant to help the color attach permanently to the fabric. We cut squares of white cloth, used rubber bands in a way that would create designs on our creations and then put them into the dye for 3 more hours at a boil and then soaked overnight. In the morning we hung the fabric to dry and a couple days later we had beautiful all-natural dyed cloth. This process was repeated with both 7th and 8th grade Environmental Club members – all the kids loved this project!