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This song was written as part of an investigation of natural dyes. In 2017, I spent a lot of time in the woods and reading about using plants, fungi, and lichen to dye fibers and fabrics. The song was installed in the exhibition Ark/\Hive at the Institute Library in New Haven, CT in April/May 2018 along with dye-related photographs I made.

CD / BOOK - The book version includes photos, lyrics, and an essay and includes the download and a CD hand-stamped with lichen dye and lettered/initialed in pencil--please see the merch section to view and purchase the book. Only 10 copies available, and when they are sold out, it will no longer be publicly available.

The 7" lathe-cut version has sold out.

The cover text was drawn using a lichen-based dye and then scanned.


To live is to dye!
To live is to dye!
To live is to dye,
What does your garden grow?

I spent the summer hiding in the woods
looking for colors I could find there,
chasing violet in a handful of dust.
I got used to feeling
spiderwebs in my hair.
Alissa showed us what to do,
the rest I read in books
from my local library
now I know where to look
(and I look almost every day.)

To live is to dye!
To live is to dye!
To live is to dye,
Tinctoria, Tinctoria,
what does your garden grow?

I learned about madder,
and I learned about woad.
I grew dyer’s coreopsis,
Japanese indigo.
Brewed ‘em up in potions
for the coloring of clothes,
and I feel more connected.

To live is to dye!
To live is to dye!
To live is to dye,
What does your garden grow?


released May 4, 2018
Written by Lys Guillorn
© (p) 2018 Lys Guillorn (Little Wren/BMI)

Performed by Lys Guillorn & Her Band
Lys Guillorn, vocals, electric guitar
Julie Beman, Wurlitzer, Hammond organ
Eric Bloomquist, bass
Peter Riccio, drums, percussion

Engineered and mixed by Christian Ruggiero, Gold Coast Recorders
Mastering by Mark Alan Miller, Sonelab Studio
Lathe-cut 7” by Tyler Bisson, Audio Geography


all rights reserved



Lys Guillorn New Haven, Connecticut

Lys Guillorn is an alt-folk-psych-rock troubadour, songwriter, bandleader, and multi-instrumentalist from Connecticut.
Her songs are dreamy, lyric-driven, melodically interesting, and undefinable. Guillorn has been on bills with: Laura Cantrell, Amy Rigby, Scout Niblett, The Handsome Family.

Live she's solo, or w/ Julie Beman - keys/vox, Eric Bloomquist - bass/vox and Peter Riccio - drums/vox.
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