Onion skins, coffee grounds, old tea bags, avocado peels and pits, orange and lemon rinds.
Wait. Don’t throw them in the garbage.
They can be used, along with leaves from plants, to make naturally dyed fabrics.
Like the silk scarves that will be dyed with two kinds of special leaves in a Natural Dyeing Workshop from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Ganna Walska Lotusland in Montecito.
It will be led by Anna Bower, Lotusland’s assistant curator.
“I’ll provide each participant with two silk scarves. One can be dyed a pink or orange color from a mix of loquat leaves, and the other will be different shades of blue from a mix of woad leaves,” she said.
“The loquat leaves will come from plants at Lotusland, but the woad leaves will come from my own garden. I have a plot at Trinity Lutheran Church.”
Ms. Bower said she buys the scarves, which are 11-by-60 inches, in bulk from Dharma Trading Co. in Petaluma.
“I will prep them before the workshop by removing oil or dirt from the manufacturing process. The process is called mordanting, a French word meaning to bite. This helps the dye adhere to the fabric,” she said.
During the workshop, the plant leaves are chopped into small pieces and added to vats of water.
“It’s like making tea. You boil the plant and then simmer,” said Ms. Bower, 29.
Meanwhile, participants prepare the scarves by making “shibori resist designs,” clamping them with clothespins, wrapping with string, twisting them with string, rubber bands or chopsticks.
“Then, they are immersed in the pots and after they simmer for an hour, they are removed, unwrapped, rinsed in cold clear water until they are clean and then they are air dried,” said Ms. Bower, who grew up in Edmonds, Wash., and earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental science at Willamette University in Oregon and her master’s degree in plant science at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del.
Because the woad process is a little more complicated, she prepares the mix of woad leaves before the workshop and gives a PowerPoint presentation while the loquat scarves are simmering.
“When the scarves come out of the woad mix, they are yellow and then turn blue. It’s sort of magical. It’s a reaction to the oxygen. To get a darker blue, you can dip it again,” said Ms. Bower, a member of the Lotusland staff since 2017.
“The beauty of natural dyeing is that you can take something from the back of your closet and give it new life using just the waste from your dinner.”
The Natural Dyeing Workshop will be from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Ganna Walska Lotusland in Montecito. All materials are provided in the workshop fee, and participants will leave with two naturally dyed silk scarves of their own design. Enrollment is limited to 12 participants. Tickets are $140 for Lotusland members and $160 for nonmembers. For more information, call 805-969-9990.