This month's CreativeMornings is all about nature—the place we go hiking, find inspiration or spend time with those we love—and fortunately, we have a lot to say on this matter. Below you will find a collection of stories, collection objects and books on the topic of nature, but don't worry bug spray isn't required.

Learn how local artist, Sarah Winston, uses natural materials in her work.

When did you acquire this beautiful loom?

A professor in the program was very supportive. I was in the studio all the time, and she said, “Sarah, take a loom home.” So I brought it here with metal heddles—it was so noisy, like in a factory. (daughter nods) Later, as I started using finer and finer thread, I found I needed to use a lighter type of loom that would avoid causing too much abrasion. This loom is not good for rugs but works well for fragile threads. While a student with Joan Austin at San Diego State's Textile Design program, I became fascinated with using dry fine threads and simple patterns.

(points to a tapestry) I was a member of the California Fiber Artists Group. This piece and another were in the show. This one depicts the rise of the moon and is directly inspired by a kimono in Mingei's collection. See the moon? We need to twist thread to create that space. Usually, you want to watch the space disappear. You need to twist warped thread to keep that space. It was then dip-dyed in indigo.


A lot of inspiration for other pieces is more African. My ancestors were Igbo. My father was Nigerian. I found out later that Igbo were great indigo dyers, well after developing this passion. Some of the patterns I chose are also a link to my European ancestry, like the weave in my room. It's a strip that shows my mixed heritage and the pattern of the bands in the middle are often used in Europe.

Which pigments do you use for your Mingei Masters classes on dyeing?

The wool will be prepared and ready to dye. We’ll use cochineal (pigment). It’s an ancient traditional South and Central American dye, and there are many cochineal dyed textiles in Mingei's collection. We’ll use pomegranate for the yellow; many of the Asian textiles use this dye. Also logwood and madder. Logwood with iron will get us into a black. Black is the hardest color to achieve using natural dyes.

You’re weaving colors of the world . . .

Being representative, yes. It’s easy to make that tie to Mingei’s collection.

This is the stuff. (pointing to yarn submerged in madder for heating) 80 different color tones can be achieved from madder going from a burgundy orange, red or brown, called turkey red. For workshops, we will talk a little about its history.

Skim our nature-inspired reading list.

Shop Mingei compiled a list of books that teach you how to incorporate natural materials into your work and explore how artists are inspired by the natural world. To add these books to your bookshelf contact Shop Mingei at store@mingei.org.

In the Realm of Nature
Signe Mayfield
$45

The companion catalog for Mingei’s exhibition of the same name, this beautiful publication covers the work of woodturner Bob Stocksdale and fiber artist Kay Sekimachi. Both pioneers in contemporary craft in their own right, this husband and wife duo worked alongside each other for years and were influenced by each other’s work—seen in their organic shapes and love for natural materials.


Natural Color
Sasha Duerr
$32.50

Avocado pits, eucalyptus bark, onion skins, pomegranate rinds—so many readily available fruits, trees and herbs can produce beautiful, subtle dyes for clothing and textiles. In this book, Sasha Duerr breaks a variety of natural dye projects down by season. New to dyeing? Don’t be discouraged, the step-by-step instructions and detailed tips on different techniques make this book great for a beginner or seasoned dyer.

Design by Nature
Erica Tanov
$35

Design icon Erica Tanov translates natural elements—flora, water, wood—into design and décor ideas for bringing aspects of the natural world into our homes. Mixing textures, fabrics, patterns and organic elements, Tanov helps you create a sanctuary in your home that elevates beyond trends and reflects your own personal style.

Now, get making!