Cultivating beds of indigo, marigolds, dahlias, hibiscus, and goldenrod, Pratt Institute students are exploring how to make natural dyes from seed to harvest. The Textile Dye Garden was planted in Cannoneer Court on the Brooklyn campus this year, and through workshops and classroom experiences has given students hands-on experimentation with turning flowers, leaves, and other organic material into natural dyes.
“A few years ago, Chair Jennifer Minniti and Assistant Chair Emily Mader and I had an enthusiastic conversation about starting a dye garden on campus as part of the sustainability goals of the department,” said Gina Gregorio, adjunct associate professor of fashion design. “When Covid sent us all to remote learning, the antidote to this digital environment would be to have something literally growing on campus when students returned.”
Under School of Design Dean Anita Cooney’s leadership, the Institute began the exploration process to consider the parameters and plantings of the Textile Dye Garden as a campus-wide resource for sustainability education. The Hazel Siegel Textile Dye Garden Exploration Fund was established with seed funding from an anonymous donor and generous support from Trustee Emeritus Robert H. Siegel, BArch ’62, FAIA, in memory of his late wife Hazel Siegel, a leading textile designer and visiting assistant professor of interior design who led the 'Textiles for Interiors' course for over a decade. A team of faculty and students worked with natural dye consultant Isa Rodrigues to realize the interdisciplinary and collaborative space based on research into natural dye plants that could thrive on campus.
“The Textile Dye Garden offers a unique opportunity to see an entire process from start to finish,” said Ana Codorean, MA Art and Design Education ’22, who has worked on developing programming for the garden. “We plant the seeds, nurture the plants, harvest, process, and dry the plants, and dye our fabrics. It has been such a gift to work with the entire process of natural dyes from beginning to end.”
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