Barrie Cohen

Can you talk about your process and the types of materials that you use for dyeing? 
My favorite dye process is one called bundle dyeing where you place your plant materials directly on fabric and apply heat so that the plants leave an imprint on the fabric.  I am Reiki certified and a tarot reader and I use this as an opportunity to infuse the fabric with the healing properties of the plants as well as the healing principles of tarot.  

I am also a farmer and floral designer so I have access to a lot of fresh florals.  I use flowers that are composted from events, flowers from the field as much as possible and even some kitchen compost in order to reduce waste.  If I don’t have a use for the natural material right away, I’ll dry them to make sure that I can use them at a later date. As another means of reducing waste, I dye mostly vintage clothing or fabric that has been saved from landfills in the fashion industry.

What is it that attracts you to using natural plant-based dyes in your work?
I started farming in 2012 on organic fruits and vegetable farms but found that I was most drawn to the herbs and flowers that were growing.  I started studying herbalism and traditional medicine and along the way learned that fabric has traditionally been dyed using these same plants and flowers.  I started geeking out on how versatile plants are and now I see my work as not only using plants and flowers to dye fabric but also infusing it with their same healing energy.

A few other benefits of natural dyes are that conventional dyes are really harmful to the water system and not something that I want to be breathing in while I’m working.  I also really like that using natural materials and dyeing by hand makes each piece original since the nature of the process can sometimes be unpredictable.

How does Tarot factor into your process? Is there a specific deck you use (if so, why)? Or any specific tarot cards you use regularly?
Tarot is a part of my daily meditative practice and is, therefore, something I like to incorporate into my work.  All plants have their own healing properties that can correlate to different tarot cards or energies. Combining all of these modalities makes each piece really unique and special.

I went through a phase where I collected and used a bunch of different decks but I always come back to the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.  It’s one of the most common decks out there where many people will recognize the imagery. It was my very first deck and the one I learned on so holds a special place in my heart.

I feel like every couple of months I’ll be working with a specific energy - this month I’ve been drawn to The Emperor card which invites you to be confident and stand in your power.

Do you have any advice for people interested in dyeing their own clothes? Do you offer any workshops?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned while using natural dyes is to release your expectations and have fun.  All plants are different depending on how they’re grown or maintained and therefore the color will be a little different each time.  If you get stuck in your head about how a final product should look, you might be disappointed with the outcome. For me, the pieces that I’ve made that I’m the happiest with came from having fun and enjoying the process.  But on a more technical note, make sure that the fabric you’re dyeing is made of natural materials or else the color won’t stick.

I host workshops at least once a month around New York or nearby.  You can follow along on my Instagram for the latest updates or sign up for my newsletter at where I promote them the most.

I also love hosting private workshops both in the studio or at a requested New York location!

Is there anything you want people to know about your work that we haven't talked about?
I’ll be selling most of my work all of July and August at Dusty Rose Vintage in Greenpoint, Brooklyn but I also love making custom pieces for people: breathing new life into preloved garments, making large scale installations and collaborating with local brands.  Please reach out!!