North Texas Daily

We Mean Green funds UNT Natural Dye Garden

We Mean Green funds UNT Natural Dye Garden

July 18
17:59 2013

William A. Darnell / Senior Staff Writer

More than a year after receiving a grant from the We Mean Green fund, the vision of three College of Visual Arts and Design students will grow into UNT’s Natural Dye Garden.

The garden will be near Bain Hall on Highland Street, and it will supplement the chemical dyes currently being used by the design program’s fibers department. The $20,000 project is being handled by UNT’s facilities department and will feature a vast array of flowers such as Bluebonnet, lilac, saffron, English lavender and several others.

Ground will be broken on the project in late August, with an opening ceremony tentatively scheduled for October.

“We are going to look at the garden as an experiment,” said Lesli Robertson, senior lecturer in the fibers and weaving department of CVAD. “We know a lot about natural dyes, but the experiment part comes in when we’re wanting to have conversations about the length, the idea of natural dyes can have outside of the visual arts.”

Robertson said that the students, studio art seniors Morgan Kuster, Analise Minjarez and graduate Sarah Westrup, envisioned the garden as a community space that can be used as a great place for graduates to take photos, as well as a place where other UNT departments could contribute in the future.

“There was a lot of value in students creating such an innovative proposal, it is really great sustainability wise,” Assistant Director & We Mean Green Fund coordinator Lauren Helixon said.

The fibers department now has a real world resource for materials that is natural instead of filled with chemicals, Helixon said.

Organic material from the flowers, such as leaves, petals and roots, will be used to create the natural dyes.

“You would harvest it the like you would a normal garden,” UNT Sustainability outreach coordinator Nicole Cocco said. “If you wanted some tomato in your salad, you would go grab a tomato. If there’s rosemary you would need to dye a certain amount of fabric, you would harvest that much.”

Cocco said if the garden is tended enough, it would be enough to supply all the students and endure the seasons.

“I think it is one of the great projects,” said Komalaa Sambasivan, project manager in the facilities department, who is in charge of the design and construction of the project. “It is something different, I have never done something like this.”

Robertson said the students also received a private grant for $8,000 that will be used to create a sustainable artwork for the garden, which is part of trying to make conscious decisions on how their work is done.

“Textiles can be a very chemically based process,” Robertson said. “This is just a start to a conversation on how to really make sure our process and our work are really benefiting the environment and not impacting it in a negative way.”

Additional reporting by TS Johnson.

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