Natural Dyeing at MISSA
In mid July I will be teaching natural dyeing at the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts, a summer camp for adults in the most beautiful place in the world; Vancouver Island. The programming at MISSA consists of various of 2 and 5 full-day art classes that can be taken individually or one after another over the course of two weeks in July. For the full summer camp experience students are encouraged to purchase room and board in the beautiful ocean/woodsy location and there are opportunities for biking, kayaking, swimming, yoga in the mornings and you can even book a massage for after your day in class.
In my five-day Natural Dyeing class we will work within a large range of natural colours including indigo on silk scarves, silk and linen yardage, as well as wool yarn. Students will learn about and practice mordanting, making natural dye extracts, immersion dyeing, shibori and botanical printing as well as creating an indigo stock solution and preparing, maintaining and troubleshooting two kinds of indigo vats. Each day will be spent preparing and watching over our natural dye pots and indigo vats, and manipulating our fabric with resist techniques. Everyone will go away with a collection of yardages and scarves as well as a sample book illustrating the colours and techniques we applied throughout the week.
I have a couple of surprises up my sleeve, too. We are spending five-days together after all, so I'm bringing some extra tools and fun things for both during and after class hours. That's the only hint you get, hehe. It's going to be a lot of fun.
MISSA has not yet posted their summer 2016 classes, but I'm giving you a heads up since they will put classes up on the website on February 1st and they fill up fast. For early access to registration you can sign up as a friend of MISSA for $20 here. Friends of MISSA get class schedules and can register for classes before they are announced to the public.
I've already geared this year toward what would in theory include a slow paced, meditative art practice by committing to the slowest type of weaving: tapestry (on my new loom). Most recently though I've reacquainted myself with printing with natural dyes and I'm hooked. Here's the thing about these two practices, they are very labor intensive and require an immense amount of patience. Yet, when I'm in process I am charged with energies that I sometimes forget exist in me. That's when I know I'm on the right path: I can't sleep, nor do I remember to eat (Both those side effects are usually short lived though, and are actually a welcome change from those same effects coming from a different source, hint: "Whah!")
The process of printing with natural dyes is complex, and I might add not the most efficient. So much so that I'm quite sure any natural prints I make will invariably be a part of art installations as opposed to sold as garments or home textiles - I just couldn't put a retail price on them (note this is different from natural dyeing or eco-printing -- those I make to sell). The process takes weeks to complete! If a stranger were to ask me how I made the pictured yardage I'd tell them I stenciled natural dyes onto silk. Sounds simple right? But first I extract the dyes from woodchips and thicken them with guar gum. Before that I mordant the silk (a one-day process) and then size it with soy milk that I make from scratch (another whole day). Then I print (or stencil in this photos' case) the dyes onto the silk and wait for it to dry completely before steaming the entire yardage. Now I wait at least three weeks for the soy sizing to cure before I rinse it and use it for who-knows-what. As intense as that is I love every single second and can't wait to start the process over again. Of course a great way to make the process more efficient is to mordant a lot of fabric at once for future use.
PS This yardage was only possible because my amazing mom babysat for several days while I made it. Thank you Mom!
Silk and Storms
This winter has felt especially long, I think because we are getting to know a new city, so we're not yet aware of all the inside activities that are available, nor do we have many friends (to visit). So, we've been spending a lot of time inside our apartment. At the end of one especially stormy week (we must have spent 3 full days inside) I was determined to get out of the house, and I thought it might be fun to entertain Sam with fabric in the wind. I think I had more fun playing with the silk than he did watching me.
more natural dye print samples...
As with many textile techniques, this natural printing process that I'm developing has proven to be very time consuming. All the more reason to love it, I say.
I'm pretty excited to be in a place to say that. When I started the textiles program at Capilano University four years ago I was very production minded. I wanted to find a way to make multiples of things in the most efficient way. That's also linked to the fact that I saw myself developing a product line of some sort. So, that's not to say I wouldn't want efficiency to be a factor if I do have a product based textile business one day. Today I'm just happy to be able enjoy the process of natural dyeing and printing and celebrate its richness.
Here are some of the silk scarves I've been lovingly creating these past few weeks. As you may be able to tell my favourite dye to work with is Brazilwood (the coral pink). I think it's the loveliest. My other faves are onion skin and logwood. There are some indigo one's on their way soon, as well as some lovely yellow with osage.
I just put a bunch up on Etsy and they're on sale until the 22nd for half off, the best price I'll ever offer these at:) So, this is the time to get one if you've been eyeing them.
I hope you're enjoying this long weekend. It is so nice and warm here in Montreal and is suppose to get as hot as 30 degrees tomorrow, yipeeeee.
I'm off to knit in the park.
By Hook or By Crook
Here are some pics of my piece, Leaves Are Falling II, in the current FBRS 480 year-end show. We are having a photographer come in this week to shoot the entire show, so keep going back to the show website to see those added soon (www.byhookorbycrook.ca). Photo below: works of (left to right) Emily McIntyre, me, Jessica Belanger.
Leaves are Falling II
metal, silk, natural dyes, magnets, speaker, arduino and waveshield
multicoloured swatch for printing
Leaves are Falling
Here are some shots of the fabric I've been working into this month. There will be a lot more added to this falling sweater, including some subtle leaf prints and maybe even some goldleaf. The falling sweater was printed with brazilwood and logwood and the full falling series is 5 vertical prints on 136 inches of silk
This finished piece will be shown at Eastern Bloc starting March 30th, 2012
photos by Riley Sparks
Update March 23rd: Shortly after this post I accidentally ruined this fabric in a contaminated pot. I was pretty sad at first, but the more I look at the photos the more I think the piece had already been resolved at this point. So now I'm just glad I have these great photos. For the show on the 30th I'll be showing the second part of this series which will be a lot different and feature a sound element.
More printing with natural dyes. These photos aren't out of focus, the prints have just transferred that way, which I love.