Sustainable Textiles in Urban Cleveland

What is the responsibility of Praxis Fiber Workshop, a fine art textile center, towards the reversal of harmful textile and fashion industry practices? We believe it is of upmost priority and that education is a first step towards change. It is the hope of Praxis to educate our community about where fabric is sourced, exactly what is entailed in the creation of cloth from fiber to manufacturer and what exactly can happen to our planet if these processes are not carefully monitored and executed.

Beginning this June, Praxis will launch a natural dye garden with the help and support of the Gund Foundation, the Fowler Foundation and Cuyahoga Arts and Culture on two city-owned vacant lots in North Collinwood. This amazing community project will partner with the Cleveland Seed Bank and Urban Lambscape Project to create a living example of where your fabric comes from and how it is made.

Praxis is turning half of this large lot into a natural dye garden. We will grow marigolds and St. John’s Wort along the perimeter of the garden, and indigo as the main crop in the center of the garden. The outer perimeter plants yield beautiful flowers and when cropped and boiled in water, render bright and beautiful shades of yellow and purple. Indigo is the oldest-known natural dye. Discovered in India, there is evidence of indigo in Egyptian tombs. This also makes indigo the most permanent and long-lasting natural dye. Many cultures have their own uses for indigo, but in the United States you will find the color mostly in denim. However, natural indigo has been replaced with a synthetic version which, like all synthetic dyes, is terrible for the environment. It is our goal to create an indigo crop which will not only be used for educational programming to spread the word to our local communities about the importance of natural dye practices, but also could be sold as an alternative to local clothing companies and manufacturers who use synthetic indigo and are looking for a smaller carbon footprint.

Adjacent to our crop, a visitor will meet three long-haired Dorset sheep grazing on the land. Urban Lambscape Project makes sheep available to maintain urban lots in Cleveland. We will be using our sheeps’ wool to experiment with water-preserving wool practices and to give live, educational demos on yarn spinning and yarn dyeing.

Visit our garden for a grand opening reception and live demo on June 1 from 4:00 to 6:00pm.



Praxis Fiber Workshop

15301 Waterloo Road

Cleveland, Ohio 44110