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Niagara Falls
Monday, April 22, 2024
Dye Day at Laura Secord Homestead



The natural colours of fall seep into fibres during Dye Day at the Laura Secord Homestead last Saturday. The Niagara Handweavers and Spinners Guild has been hosting the event there for the last three years. Previously, it had been held at members homes.

And although turnout was low this year – none of the registered participants showed up for the activities – guild members didn’t let that stop them from enjoying the afternoon themselves.

Spinning teacher and organizer of Dye Day, Julia Bayza, said this was a “fluke year.” Normally she said there are at least 10 members from the community who come out to participate.

Dye Day is planned for the community by the guild to demonstrate what they do, and to get more people involved. There are currently about 70 members of the guild from all over the Niagara region. Specializing in handweaving, spinning and dyeing fibres, members branch off into their own interests and come together for regular meetings and workshops.

Bayza said the group participates in craft festivals and community events throughout the year.

“We’re at festivals and craft fairs to let the community know what we have available and what we do,” she said.

Often, guild members will dress up in historical costumes as a nod to the early beginnings of the craft. Though Janice Ludberg said she’s ditched the idea of dressing up because she views it as a modern craft.

“We’re doing this as artisans of a modern craft, for our own enjoyment and to introduce new people to what we do,” she said.

On Saturday, about 12 members took turns dyeing fabrics using natural colourants; walnuts, marigolds, indigo and cochineal are used to turn simple fabrics into vibrant natural colours.

First, the wool needs to be prepared in a mordant. That means simmering the fabric in a mixture of alum, cream of tartar and water for an hour and half. After wringing out the wool, it can then be dyed in the dye bath, Bayza said.

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