Creating Colors Using Native Plants In Haiti

I had the opportunity to work with Haitian designer Paula Coles to develop dyes using indigenous plants in Port au Prince, Haiti. We created colors to use in her bag designs for Donna Karan’s Urban Zen collection. This project is part of the Design Organization Training (DOT) initiative, a partnership between Parsons The New School For Design, Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation and Haitian Designer Paula Coles.

Colors Created from plants like campeche (logwood) bourgainville flowers, Djon Djon mushroom, tumeric, tropical almond,

We created colors from plants like campeche (logwood) bougainvillea flowers, djon djon mushroom, tumeric, and tropical almond

Harvesting bougainvillea flowers

Cooking bougainvillea flowers

Straining out natural dyes

Documentation of dye research

Bougainvillea, tropical almond and tumeric dyes cooking


As part of the DOT initiative, I conducted workshops for artisans in Haiti to show how to make natural dyes from native plants. We developed print paste, and explored methods for resist dyeing. We also created an organic indigo vat using local mangoes as a reducing agent. Below are pictures:

Dye kitchen at DOT


Dyeing with indigo

Textile workshop

Materials for workshop

Indigo dyed samples

Local artisans experiment with screen printing using natural dyes

Painting with natural dye paste made with campeche

Relief printing with natural dyes

Outside the textile studio at DOT center

Paula Coles hanging samples from the workshop

Port au Prince



Interview On The Undergrowth

Josh Kogan and Travis Simon from The undergrowth interview Laura Sansone:

2/27/14 - This week on the Undergrowth, Travis and Josh are joined by hand-crafting and dying expert Laura Sansone. We explore her mobile project Textile Lab, that travels through the Green Markets of NYC and helps teach her students at Parsons. Making plant based dyes from food waste, origins of materials, hydropnic farming and much more are discussed. Listen Here

Re-purposing Clothing With Green Eileen

House-Wear is working with Green Eileen, an initiative the EILEEN FISHER COMMUNITY FOUNDATION. GREEN EILEEN is a recycled clothing program committed to reducing environmental impact of clothing manufacturing. We have been working with Green Eileen to create products using second hand Eileen Fisher clothing and mill ends from the manufacturing process.

The products that are being developed combine recycled clothing with materials from regional farms such as local fiber, leather and natural dyes made from plants grown in NY.  This work explores the interplay  between local production and industrial manufacturing.  The work generated investigates the way textile and clothing production can play a role in fostering the socio-economic well being of communities and the environment. See More Images here…


Labor And Handcrafting

Labor is central to the discipline of craft and is a framework for the examination of western consumerism. In the context of capitalism and industry, critiques about labor and centralized production have culturally devolved into the output of traditional craft and other artisan activities. Craft making and community oriented enterprises such as collectives, guilds and worker owned businesses have historically grown out of the desire and necessity for socio- economic reform, as seen in The Arts & Crafts Movement of the 19th c, and in contemporary trends such as the DIY culture and Craftivism. Within this context, handcrafting can be viewed as promoting a material culture that revolves around egalitarian, community-based modes of production.

Remnants From The Men’s White Shirt Industry

This work examines consumer culture and the dominant paradigm of labor exploitation that is inherent to industrial, capitalist modes of production. Read More

Interview With Laura Sansone About Textiles and Sustainability

Mae Colburn who writes for the online publication,  Fashion Projects, published an interview on their blog. Read here: Fashion Projects

About Fashion Projects

Fashion Projects began in New York in 2004, with the aim to create a platform to highlight the importance of fashion — especially “experimental” fashion — within current critical discourses. Through interviews with a range of artists, designers, writers and curators, as well as through other planned projects and exhibits, we hope to foster a dialogue between theory and practice across disciplines.

Felting Rugs At The Hudson Valley Sheep & Wool Co

I have been working with Mickey O’Neill from The Hudson Valley Sheep & Wool Co. to develop rugs on their felting machines. The fiber we are using is from Shetland and Icelandic sheep who live on their farm.

The carding machine creates the wool batting in preparation for felting

Some wool batting laid out on the felting machine