Did you know that there are a seemingly endless numbers of colors of indigo?
“Indian indigo dye lump” by Photo by Evan Izer (Palladian) – Own work.
The use of natural dyes involves the identification, collection, cultivation and conservation of dye plants, the use of chemistry, including natural mordants/fixatives, fermentation, the art of dyeing, and in many cases, an understanding of local customs and the historical context. Dye plants are often studied along side medicinal plants. In addition to plants, invertebrates and minerals are used sources for dyes. Authentically STEAMy, right???
Here’s link to a nice, older article on the topic, including diagrams some important flavonoid dyes: http://userwww.sfsu.edu/msequin/JCE1981ChemofPlantDyes.pdf
And here’s another to the Facebook page of textile artist Hisaki SUMI. Check out her absolutely gorgeous images! (Thanks, Tani!): https://www.facebook.com/pages/Science-Art-of-Natural-Dyes/129463670414005
Could you use graphic non-fiction to teach a STEM subject? Well, science cartoonist and Professor of Biology at Juniata College, Dr. Jay Hosler has done just that. Check out his blog at: http://www.jayhosler.com/jshblog/
The front page of his blog currently features some great student work from his Animal Behavior course. Almost any STEM story could be told through this art form, which can take a tone that ranges from whimsical to dark. Also, comics would be well-suited for group work as the conceptualization could be cooperative, and the drawing, inking, coloring, and writing could be delegated to different students.
As with other forms of STEAM, this work is certain to form right brain/left brain connections, and will surely result in more time-on-task. Be sure to check out Dr. Hosler’s own science comics and graphic novels on topics as varies as evolution and the history of science : http://www.jayhosler.com