Volume 24 Issue 1 A Journal Dedicated to Natural Dyes Spring 2020

Book Review: Sasha Duerr Natural Palettes: Inspiration from Plant-Based Color
Reviewed by Pamela Feldman

When this book first arrived, I flipped through the pages and found of field of color swatches. It's a colorist delight. Sasha Duerr is an artist, educator and the founder of the Permacouture Institute. Her new book focuses on the exploration, collecting and analyzing results of dyeing with plants. The book starts out having the reader think about the difference between fast-fashion in the retail world and slow-fashion in creating color with local plants. It continues with a simple but clear description of mordanting and dyeing. The core of the book is photographs of color swatches of plant dyes. Each plant is represented by four color swatches: no mordant, mordant, iron, and iron and mordant. The opposite page gives a simple history along with what parts of the plant where used in dyeing. There are 500 photographs of sample swatches in the book, giving the reader a wide range of materials for experimentation.

Color Swatches: Red Hibiscus Flowers
No Mordant Mordant
Red Hibiscus Flowers: No Mprdant
Red Hibiscus Flowers: Mordant
Red Hibiscus Flowers: No Mordant + Iron
Red Hibiscus Flowers: Mordant + Iron
No Mordant + Iron Mordant + Iron
Photographs Copyright by Sasha Duerr

Duerr stimulates the dyer to experiment with the leaves, seeds, bark and flowers of each plant to see what colors can be obtained. It's important, she notes, to identify every plant before it's used for dyeing. Her book is not a how-to book, and a good working knowledge of the dye process is required, but it is a book that challenges the dyer to think more broadly about their approach to dyeing and to continuously question and experiment with local plants. Natural Palettes would be an excellent addition to one's dye library and an inspiration for those who would like to expand their color field.