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San Domenico School News & Events

Learning Mandarin and Tie-Dye Techniques in the Garden of Hope

The Upper School Mandarin II class is learning how to describe colors and clothes in Chinese. To support this language learning, sustainability and fun all at the same time, we planned to have a tie dye fashion show at school. Instead of ordering tie dye kits from art stores, our Sustainability Director Shelley Flint taught our students how to use beets, cabbage,and turmeric to make red, blue, and yellow colors to dye T-shirts.

The goal with this unit is spending time together in the garden and making something they students can take home. For the next part of the lesson, students will start working on a presentation to describe how they make a tie dye shirt, and in their presentation, they will also encourage people to make their own natural dyes at home.

To Make the Dye-Bath

  • Remove the desired portion of the plant
  • Chop or tear the blossoms, leaves, etc. apart to expose more surface area
  • Combine in a large kettle
  • Add enough water to cover the plant material
  • Simmer on range until the plant material looks faded and dye has transferred to the water (about 1 hour)
  • Strain out left-over plant material and discard
  • The remaining liquid is your dye

You may experiment with different plants and vegetables to extract colors. Here are some to try:

  • Red: Lichen, eucalyptus, St. John’s Wort, chokecherries, beets, bloodroot, pomegranate, crab apple, juniper, rose petals, blackberries
  • Orange: Paprika, carrots, butternut seeds, dahlias, chicory, sunflower, turmeric
  • Yellow: Marigold, yarrow leaves, horseradish, saffron, sage, turmeric, alfalfa, bay leaves, celery leaves, dead daffodil heads, dahlias, dandelions, elderberry
  • Green: Artichokes, nettle leaves, red onion, spinach, sage, peppermint, Queen Anne’s Lace, chamomile, bayberry, foxglove, larkspur, hydrangea, lilac
  • Blue: Indigo, elderberries, blueberries, dogwood, hyacinth, red cabbage, purple, iris

Shu-Chen Lin 林淑貞
Mandarin Teacher

Shelley Flint
Director of Sustainability