Natural Dyes: Creating a Plant-Based Palette With Aaron Sanders Head - Atlas Obscura Experiences

Natural Dyes: Creating a Plant-Based Palette With Aaron Sanders Head

3 sessions
$65 per person
See Dates
$65 per person
$65 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

This course has already started! However, you can still join if you’d like to (and we hope you will!). Students enrolling after the course start date and time will have access to a recording of the first session (which will be emailed to participants within 72 hours) as well as the option to attend remaining sessions live. Please select the “Join Late” ticket type to enroll after the course has begun.

In this three-part lecture series, learn from textile artist Aaron Sanders Head how to turn kitchen scraps and foraged plants into natural dyes.

Course Description

Onion skins have a secret. They, like many kinds of plant matter, can be transformed into a palette of brilliant colors—dyes ranging from copper to deep mustard. In this three-part online course, we’ll learn how to create natural dyes using everything from kitchen scraps to foraged plants. We’ll begin with the basics, learning the tools and terms needed to get started before setting up a dye bath and diving into the process. Not only will we use food scraps, plant dye powders, and extracts to color textiles, but we’ll also learn how to forage for regional dyestuff, depending on your local ecology. By the end of this workshop, you’ll walk away with a palette of fabrics dyed using local plants or extracts and powders, as well as a repeatable method for creating color from the contents of your compost bin.

Syllabus at a Glance

This course includes three total sessions, each lasting for 1.5 hours on three consecutive Tuesdays beginning December 5.

Session 1 (Tuesday, 12/5, 7:30-9 PM ET) | Materials, Mordanting, and Kitchen Waste Dyes

Session 2 (Tuesday, 12/12, 7:30-9 PM ET) | Immersion Dyeing with Flowers, Bundle Dyeing, and Resist Methods

Session 3 (Tuesday, 12/19, 7:30-9 PM ET) | Immersion Dyeing with Foraged Items, Understanding pH Shifts and making Inks


Session one will include a deep dive into dyeing materials. Students who wish to dye along with the course in real time will need to gather the materials listed below. Please reach out to if you have any questions about course materials.

  • fiber (any natural materials like silk, wool, or plant materials are a good candidate)
  • mordants (potassium aluminum sulfate for animal fibers and/or aluminum acetate for plant fibers)
  • wheat bran or calcium carbonate for plant fibers
  • a notebook
  • stainless steel or nonreactive metal pot with lid dedicated to dyeing and not used for cooking or food preparation
  • a heat source (kitchen, portable burner, outdoor fire pit, etc.)
  • kitchen scale
  • tongs
  • rubber gloves
  • various spoons or small whisks for stirring and dissolving
  • sieve, strainer, or cheese cloth
  • assortment of buckets, bowls, or vessels for mixing and gather water and making smaller dye baths

Pricing Options

This course is available at three ticket prices. This tiered pricing model is designed to increase access for a wider range of students as well as to support our instructors. In addition to tiered tickets, we offer a limited number of no-pay spots for students who would not otherwise be able to take this course. No-pay spots are selected via a randomized drawing two weeks before each section begins. For more information and to apply for a no-pay spot, please click here. To learn more about our pricing model and randomized selection process for no-pay spots, please visit our FAQ page.

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Atlas Obscura Online Courses

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Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to each class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access all sessions of your course via Zoom.

About Your Instructor
Aaron Sanders Head
Aaron Sanders Head

Aaron Sanders Head is a Southern textile artist focused on natural dyes and hand-stitching. Aaron explores the intersections of practices of the past with contemporary craft, and the ways that sewing and textile arts can aid in increasing diversity and representation in the creative class. He is based in Greensboro, Alabama where he lives in an 1830s home with his partner, musician Tim Higgins, and two cats, Splenda and Turnip. He maintains an active studio practice and extensive dye garden used in his work.

What Else You Should Know

This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording of each session, after it airs, at a time that is convenient for them. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session meets, students will receive access to a recording of the live session, which they can watch for up to two weeks after the course concludes.

Instructors may use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Google Classroom, instructors may use this platform to post resources, discussion questions, or assignments. This platform also offers a space for students to connect with one another about course material between sessions.

We provide closed captioning for all of our courses and can share transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, requests, or accessibility needs.

Dates and Availability

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