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The Alchemy of a Brushstroke: Painting with Tannins and Irons with Milisa Moses

Recurring event see all

October 24 @ 4:00 pm 6:00 pm

Monday-Wednesday, October 24-26, 4-6pm

3 sessions | $165 for members, $180 for non-members + $20 Materials Fee

Learn a magical plant and mineral painting process!

This technique results in bold, black mark making, thanks to the alchemical reaction between plant tannins (gallic acid) and iron (ferrous sulfate); their interaction is what the brushstrokes leave behind. 

When painted onto prepared fabrics, this application is permanent and washable.  

Many plants contain these transformative tannins; it is the astringent quality found in tea and witch hazel, and may act as a natural pesticide and protection for the plant. Tannins are found in oak galls, oak bark, staghorn sumac, black walnut hulls, acorns, and more. When combined with iron, the tannins react and blacken; a discovery that led to iron gall ink, the standard writing and drawing ink used in Europe from the 12th – 19th centuries.  

In this 3-day workshop, learn how to prepare fabrics and ingredients, and how to apply them to yield permanent, washable works of art. Participants will leave with two, hand-painted cotton bandanas. And if you would like to use some of your own material as well, please refer to the materials list for directions on pre-treating fabric for this painting process*.

*Please note: It is recommended you bring your own brushes, all other supplies are provided via the materials fee. 


Milisa Simone Moses is a gardener, natural dyer, and writer living on Cape Cod. She works with plants from her garden and from properly foraged, natural materials to create color for art and textiles. She most recently has taught workshops at The Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Castle Hill in Truro, and formerly out of her studio space, Plant Work Shop, in Orleans.

Website: Plantworkshop.co

Instagram: plantworkshop.co

Image caption: Beach Rose, 2020, tannin and iron paint on canvas, 11 x 17 inches