Workshop + Currant Room: Sheep to Spindle: Wool Processing + Natural Dyes


During this 10-night workshop retreat at PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon, learn how to process raw wool and create natural dyes from the high desert landscape. Dye your own yarn and use hand-dyed materials to tuft, weave, and felt personal artworks.

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This package includes a 4-night stay in Currant Room, registration for the workshop, and one group dinner as listed in the workshop description below.

Choose “single” for one workshop registration and single cabin occupancy.

Choose “double” for two workshop registrations and double cabin occupancy.

This spacious 1 bedroom cabin is part of the southern trio of cabins that faces the playa. It has a queen bed, a full kitchen with dining table and chairs and a large bathroom with a shower. Includes a large writing/work desk in the living room as well as a small art and writing studio off of the bedroom. Enjoy the private wrap-around deck with expansive views of the playa and the surrounding mountains. This cabin can sleep up to 4 people with use of the full-size fold-out futon in the living room and a twin cot that can be placed either in the living room or the art/writing studio.

*Please note that the tub room has been converted into a writing/art studio. The tubs have been removed in an effort to conserve water in support of our environmental mission. Only non-toxic art materials can be used in the studio.


Instructor: Ivy Guild

Dates: May 23-May 27, 2024

Arrival: May 23, 2024

Departure: May 27, 2024

Skill Level: All experience levels welcome, a patient attitude is encouraged

Mobility Level: Easy. There will be guided trips to local areas to collect natural materials and an opportunity to determine where and how far you go based on your own mobility level and comfort.    

Workshop Description:

During this 4-night workshop in the Great Basin, participants will learn how to process raw wool from local 4 H Organization sheep and create natural dyes from the high desert landscape. We will begin the workshop by washing and learning how to hand-card fleece from local youth farmers. Next, we will do our own research on the natural dyes that can be harvested from invasive and native plants foraged around PLAYA. We’ll mordant our wool with several natural chemicals (alum, copper, and iron) and start experimenting with our foraged materials. While our dye tests simmer into greens, tans, and maybe some pink and red tones, we will practice spinning our wool into yarn for our fiber-based projects. Participants will have the opportunity to dye their own yarn and use their hand-dyed materials to tuft, weave, and felt personal artworks. This workshop will teach the basics of: washing, carding, spinning, mordanting, and dyeing raw wool, ethics of foraging, natural dyeing of plant and animal-based fibers, and the basics of hand-tufting, weaving, and felting. No experience is required but patience is highly recommended. Come prepared to slow down in the outback and practice meditative processes & mindfulness.

Bio: Ivy Guild is a Reno-based, interdisciplinary artist and educator invested in researching a post-Anthropocene world in order to illustrate speculative environments left behind after the 6th Great Extinction. Inorganic interactions between manmade and biological materials recur in fictional vignettes in her work. Guild pivots away from considerations of the survival of the planet and instead examines the following questions: will human beings survive? And: how many species will we take with us on our jolly ride into the grave of extinction? Guild uses her sculptural installations to process the physical traumas and alterations her body has sustained. She confronts the unnatural fusion of the body with manufactured hardware and power tools that she has lived with throughout the creation of her practice. Guild received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Visual Arts and Art History from the University of San Diego and her Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art from the University of California, Irvine. In 2021, Guild received the Featured Art Prize in the Future Art Awards: Ecosystem X from Mozaik Philanthropy. Guild has been an artist-in-residence at PLAYA, Lighthouse Works, Vermont Studio Center, and ACRE. Guild has shown with Purdue University Galleries, ACRE, 1805 Gallery, CSU Long Beach, Wow Project LA, the Museum of Fine Arts at Florida State University, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, the William D. Cannon Art Gallery, San Diego Art Institute, and Sebastopol Center for the Arts among others. Her work is housed in Special Collections at Smith College and San Diego State University, as well as in private collections. https://www.ivyguildart.com/



Day 1- Thur., May 23: 2:00-5:00 pm Arrival | Evening on your own

Day 2- Fri., May 24: Field trip to Lakeview for sheep shearing (TBD) or History of wool processing + washing raw wool | Afternoon: Intro to cleaning, carding, and spinning wool | Group Dinner Provided by PLAYA

Day 3- Sat., May 25: Optional morning: Punchbowl foraging hike (4 miles round-trip) or independent studio time | Afternoon: How to mordant processed wool

Day 4- Sun., May 26:  Morning: group forage for natural dyes on PLAYA campus, option to take observational sketches of foraged materials | Afternoon: Test foraged group dyes & process wool

Day 5- Mon.. May 27: Participants depart by noon

Equipment to bring:


  • Rubber gloves
  • Hand-carders
  • Drop spindle
  • Sharp scissors
  • Dye pots & tools (best sourced from thrift stores)
  • Small pot with lid
  • Large pot with lid, Hot plate
  • Set of tongs
  • Reusable cups/bowls (plastic is fine)
  • Closed-toed shoes
  • Garden clippers
  • Reusable bags for foraged materials


  • Pre-dyed wool rovings
  • Miscellaneous yarn
  • Tufting needle + frame
  • Tufting machine
  • Artificial dyes
  • Fabric, pre-spun yarn, clothing etc for dyeing (100% natural or animal fibers only)
  • Rigid heddle or wall loom


  • Bug repellant
  • Sketchbook or notebook
  • Sketching materials
  • Hiking poles
  • Sun protection


  • Raw wool
  • Cotton squares for dye tests
  • Soap for washing wool
  • Walking stick
  • Alum, copper, and iron mordant materials
  • Kitchen scale for measuring mordant chemicals
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Shared tufting frame, needle, and frame machine
  • Shared wall loom
  • Wood, nails, and hammers to build wall looms
  • Gauze for cobweb felting

*No pets allowed. Thank you.

Additional information

Single | Double

Single, Double