Lydia (in Philippi), the seller of purple dye, can introduce an interesting study of the different occupations of Bible characters. Lydia probably used Whelks, large marine snails from which oil is extracted to use as a dye. The deep purple color was especially rare in Bible times and that is why only Royalty wore it. No one else could afford the valuable coloring. People of ancient days were resourceful, using whatever they had around them for nearly every purpose. Young students may think that all the beautiful colors of fabrics from the Bible times were made by their box of crayons. Plants, including vegetables and flowers, made perfect dyes as did nuts, bark, and mosses. Here is a suggestion for an activity but it uses hot water, so be careful around young children. This craft makes a 3-D cornucopia of paper. Use a large brown sheet of construction paper rolled into a cornucopia shape and stapled together. For the items coming out of the cornucopia, cut pieces of plain or white cotton or muslin into shapes of fruits, leaves, or pumpkins, corn, etc. Make the cut outs large enough to allow for shrinking. Choose natural dye colors for your cornucopia items: grape juice, tomato juice, lemon and orange peel, beets, tea or coffee, boiled spinach (green). Flowers such as coneflower, red cabbage, or pansies can be used for pink shades. The dye will set best if the vegetable or fruit is heated in boiling water. This can be done at home and the mixture cooled before bringing it to class. The dye will not be as strong as it will if you drop the cotton or muslin into the boiling dye. Whichever you do, after the fabric has been stirred through the dye to the desired color, add two tablespoons of vinegar to the dye to help the color set. Remove the cloth with tongs, smooth it out on waxed paper and allow it to dry naturally. It can be ironed after it is dry. Flowers, fruits, and vegetables can also be pressed or mashed directly onto the fabric if you don’t want to use the boiling method. Darker colors like grape juice will take to the fabric cold just by dipping.
Use the Wordless Book colors for the Cornucopia fruits and then the centerpiece is also a witness/conversation piece: black for sin; red for the shed blood; white as snow; gold for Heaven; green for watch and pray now.
If a cornucopia is too much, the fabric can be cut into strips, dyed to suit (use the Wordless Book colors), and then woven together (over and under) to make colorful place mats. The loose ends may be tied together in two’s or place beads, feather, buttons, or fun foam cut outs over the ends and glue in place.