Thought for a lifetime

Einstein made the very important observation that " Imagination is more important than knowledge ".

Monday, March 14, 2016

Shibori in Summerland

On a wonderful cloudy, rainy Saturday I attended a fabulous workshop at
Summerland Mercantile

The workshop was held at the proprietor's GORGEOUS home in Summerland
which is just south of Santa Barbara.

Since rain was predicted she set up work stations inside her glorious residence. There were about 30 attendees.

And what was the wonderful workshop about…
SHIBORI: the Japanese tie-dyeing technique from the 8th century.
It is a form of resist dyeing that probably came from China.
Indigo dye is the most common dye used with shibori.
Historically shibori and indigo dye was used by the poor to renew their hemp clothing.
During the 18th century it became fashionable with the very rich but,
the shibori techniques were used on silk and the the designs were
extremely intricate.

Each workshop participant was given a muslin tote, a silk scarf, and two large squares of cotton fabric.

We were taught three different shibori techniques;

1) Kumo - a twist and bind technique

2) Itajime - a shape resist technique

3) Nui - a stitched technique

The techniques can be combined and everyone got busy manipulating their fabrics.

About an hour later it was time to move onto the Indigo dyeing.
Outside there were dye stations set up for each student.
This was a wonderful, well planned workshop.

Kaari Meng was our instructor for the workshop. 
Previously I attended a quickie indigo workshop with her.
She has been using these techniques and indigo dyes for years.
Kaari is the owner of an amazing, inspiring, treasure filled 
1926 pink adobe store in the Silverlake neighborhood of LA
French General

Every student mixed a small amount of indigo dye with soda ash into a water filled bucket.
Very important to stir in one direction only until bubbles form at the top.
DO NOT stir through the bubbles ( bubbles are called the bloom )
Stir ONE time only in the opposite direction and then let dye sit for 45 minutes before using.
Before putting any item in the dye the bloom is scooped out from the dye.
Indigo dye starter kits are available at Dharma Trading Co.

So here is my plain heavy canvas tote.

I decided to use the Kumo technique - 
twisting sections over small objects and binding it with rubber bands or string.

Ready for the next step;

Almost all dyeing requires soaking the fabric in water so the dyes will penetrate more easily

Finally time to dye !
Hold piece in the dye bath for a few minutes.

When items are removed from the indigo dye the color is a beautiful turquoise green.
Air oxidizes the color to a brilliant blue and then it is time to place in the indigo dye again.
And again and again and again.
The more times in the indigo the more brilliant the final blue.

When the blue is the desired hue items are rinsed in cold water.
This stops the dye process and rinse until no blue run-off.
I also soaked my items for 24 hours in a 1 part white vinegar to 3 part water
to help set the color.

And this is the end result for my tote bag.
The small circles where created by twisting fabric around corks.
The large circles were twisted around ping pong balls.
With practice the results can be pretty controlled and consistent.

For one of the cotton fabric squares I used the Itajime technique- folding the fabric accordion style

and then sandwiching it between flat items that were FIRMLY clamped.

and this was my end result. 
Not as pretty as I had hoped.

I really wanted to have a success with the silk scarf.
I used the Nui technique - a simple running stitch that is pulled very tight and knotted off.

I confess I saw this half circle technique in one of the shibori books that Kaari brought.
She has never done this particular stitch pattern so I was on my own.
The two ends of the scarf were folded evenly, next I traced half circles and then did the running stitch.

The end result is very pretty and probably my most successful shibori technique.

The shibori techniques and indigo dyeing combinations are endless.
There were so many amazingly beautiful end results.
It was very much like playing the lottery…
everyone really hoped their finished piece would be a winner.
Some were definitely more successful than others.

But the shibori techniques and the indigo dye process worked for every participant and that is what was important. 
Many of the people were already extremely skilled at shibori and indigo dyeing.
One woman even had indigo plane seeds she was giving away from her indigo plants 

At the end of the day it was a wonderful,
educational, interesting, fun 

And I think that's what life is all about.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Week of Wonders; Zapotec, Cochineal, Apparel and more!

In one week I experienced an information tsunami of 

First up was a fifth generation Zapotec weaver named Antonio Mendoza.

Raised in a weaving family in Oaxaca he has mastered the ancient skills and recipes 
to create 100% natural dyes that are unbelievably vivid and beautiful.

Antonio uses his beautifully dyed wool yarns to weave the most amazing patterns.

His work is in museums and art galleries.

Antonio has a wonderful imagination and such 
passion for his art.
I fell in love with this gorgeous dusty rose colored 
weaving and had to have it.

Antonio told me the secret to the rose color 
is cream of tarter mixed with the red from 
cochineal bug.

Antonio knows lots of dye secrets...

And as luck would have it 
the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana 
currently has a wonderful exhibit

 The Red That Colored the World

all about…the cochineal bug!

No photos were allowed inside the exhibit of 
over 100 objects, textiles, sculptures, paintings,
manuscripts, art, clothing, etc.
all colored by the amazing little 
cochineal bug.

In the 16th century Spaniards discovered the amazing 
red dye created from the cochineal 
by the Aztecs in Mexico.

The vivd red dye was highly prized 
and brought riches and prestige 
to Spain.

The range of reds created from the cochineal is impressive. 

Next up was a day at Orange Coast College spent listening to 
fashion industry insiders speaking on…fashion!

The pressure was on to dress fashionably.

After enjoying the artistry of Antonio and history of the cochineal it was 
a stark difference listening to the successes and strategies of the fashion industry.

However it was encouraging that one of the speakers spoke
about how the fashion industry is beginning to be held accountable 
for it's impact on the environment.

And it's happening because of consumers. 

And then I attended the Imprinted Sportswear Show at 
Long Beach Convention Center.
The show was a little mind boggling.

Big business, big bucks, big manufacturing and so, so, so much product.

 Every booth was saturated with color and designs and lots of it.

It is a national show with the slogan

Everything you need to grow your decorated apparel business and more

The vendors were all about more, more, more.

And I realized I had come full circle from the beginning
of the week meeting an artist continuing ancient skills
to big manufacturers promoting the newest, amazing

What a week!   

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Vista Fiber Fiesta

In my pursuit to understand and control
all aspects of creating my original felted hats
I realized another important component
is the wool roving I use to create my hats.

This train of thought led me to my newest adventure...

my very first visit to a fiber arts show.

These shows are extremely popular all over the WORLD!
Luckily there was one just 30 minutes away in 
San Diego County. 

Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum in Vista, CA has a barn FULL of looms.

Fiber arts encompass many pursuits including spinning, weaving, knitting, animals, shearing, dying AND felting.

I was hoping that the vendors would have unique fibers and reasonably 
priced roving and batts...

I was not disappointed!
Lots of fleece from numerous different animals in all stages of preparation.

And after reading about how fibers are carded there was a gentleman that was using a carding machine and explained the process to me.

There were many demos ongoing and just think...
spinning fibers is the FIRST STEP in creating textiles.
It was like journeying back in time.

Was hoping there would be numerous animals but, there were just these Alpacas.
They are sheared once a year and  yield 5 to 10 pounds of fiber that can be spun into yarn;
or felted.

 The best thing about using animal fleece for my hats is that the animal is not harmed.
They just get an incredible hair cut!

My ultimate goal is to source my fleece from local herds 
and even know which animal the fleece is shorn from.

I felt because knitting isn't weird enough.