Monday, September 20, 2010


Contact: Alesandra Bellos
Phone: 615.306.3154


Sustainable craft workshop to be held at Bells Bend Neighborhood Farm in October

Nashville, TN - September 20, 2010

Fiber artists, farmers, and all interested in sustainable craft are
invited to participate in a workshop on kudzu fiber and indigo dye
processing, to be held October 9 - 10, 2010, at Sulphur Creek Farm in
Bells Bend, from 9 am until 5 pm each day. Participants will turn
kudzu vines into fiber suitable for sewing and weaving, harvest indigo
plants on-site and process them into blue pigment for use as dye and
paint, and create a wall hanging incorporating kudzu fiber and indigo
dye. Artisan Natural Dyeworks (formerly ASK Apparel) have teamed up
with Philadelphia-based BLUEREDYELLOW to run a two-day workshop at
Sulphur Creek Farm, where the Bellos sisters of Artisan Natural
Dyeworks grow many of the plants used in their dyehouse operations.

Indigo is perhaps best known for its starring role in coloring blue
denim. Most of the indigo in use today is synthetic; prior to the
advent of synthetic dyes, however, plant-derived indigo was highly
valued as one of the few sources of permanent blue from the natural
world. Artisan Natural Dyeworks, which uses only natural indigo in
their dyework, has received a Sustainable Agriculture Research and
Education (SARE) grant to investigate best practices for cultivating
and processing indigo-containing plants. They hope to apply the
results of this research as they establish a cooperative of dyeplant
growers in the Southeast. During the October workshop, participants
will be able to see the four different indigo-pigment producing
varieties grown at Sulphur Creek as part of the research grant -- two
tropical Indigoferas, the primary commercial genus of historical
trade; Polygonum tinctorum, also known as Dyer’s Knotweed,
historically cultivated in Japan and particularly well-suited for
Tennessee’s temperate climate; and Isatis tinctoria, or woad, the
historic source for blue dye in Europe. (Fans of Braveheart, take
note: though woad has been used since Neolithic times, the jury is
still out on whether it was ever used as a facepaint.) The process of
extracting color from indigo-containing plants, then getting that
color onto cloth, is a complex, multi-step operation. The two-day
workshop will provide a great introduction to the chemistry, lore and
unpredictable magic of indigo!

Kudzu, though reviled in the American South as an agricultural pest
and a fast-growing scourge of highways, actually has a long tradition
of use as medicine, food, and fiber. In Japan, kudzu roots, leaves,
shoots, and flowers are used to prepare a wide range of edible
delicacies, and kudzu powder and root are used to treat a variety of
blood and intestinal disorders. Kudzu cloth, woven from the long bast
fibers present in the vines, is known for its remarkable durability --
a garment can last several generations. Its initial stiffness
eventually mellows and softens with age, a quality that has given rise
to a proverb stating that the first generation wears a kudzu-cloth
garment as a jacket, the second generation the same garment as a
shirt, and the third as an undergarment.

Workshop participants will engage in a demonstration of kudzu-fiber
processing, have the opportunity to harvest and process the several
species of indigo-producing plants grown by the Bellos sisters at
their Sulphur Creek Farms dye plot, learn the process of setting up a
fresh-leaf indigo vat, and dye their hand-processed kudzu fiber in a
fresh indigo vat constructed over the course of the workshop. The
workshop will culminate in a lecture on Sunday, October 10th at 4:30
p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public, and will provide an
overview on indigo cultivation, processing and dyework from a
contemporary and historical perspective. There is a $30 fee for the
two-day workshop, and space is limited, so participants are urged to
sign up early by visiting the workshop information page at

Artisan Natural Dyeworks is an artisanal dyehouse based in Nashville,
Tennessee, specializing in the use of all-natural plant- and
earth-based dyes to dye garments, piece goods and production yardage.
Co-founded by sisters Sarah and Alesandra Bellos, Artisan Natural
Dyeworks grows and gathers its own dye materials, works with farmers
to cultivate natural dye plants on a larger scale, and designs and
uses minimal-waste systems to create distinctive colors for textiles.
BLUEREDYELLOW produces locally-made clothing in the Philadelphia area,
using home-grown natural dyes and organic cotton garments sewn by
local textile manufacturers. BLUEREDYELLOW co-founder Elissa Meyers
explored her interest in natural dyes as an intern with ASK Apparel
(Artisan Natural Dyework’s previous incarnation) during the summer of
2009, and, together with workshop co-leader Kiki Brown, studied kudzu
processing across the southeast. Workshop host Sulphur Creek Farms,
one of several Bells Bend Neighborhood Farms, is a fifty-acre parcel
with a vibrant Community Supported Agriculture program and a strong
focus on connecting urban Nashville with its rural and agricultural
heritage and future. With several thousand acres of rich, fertile
soil only fifteen minutes from downtown Nashville, the
Scottsboro/Bells Bend area could potentially provide Nashville with a
large percentage of its food (and perhaps even its dyes and fibers),
grown locally and sustainably.


For more information, please contact or
615.306.3154. Please note that workshop coordinators Sarah and
Alesandra Bellos will be out of town and unavailable for comment from
September 22 until October 3.