Tag Archives: indigo

Global Africa, Fitchburg Art Museum, Ife Franklin

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me with Ife Franklin and Catharine Sasanov

In spite of terrible weather and competition from an afternoon Patriot’s game, the Global Africa opening reception at the Fitchburg Art Museum two weeks ago was wonderful and well-attended. The three of us above, plus the reporter Clennon King, were present — representing a mini-reunion from the Slave Dwelling Project‘s overnight at the Royall House Slave Quarters a month back*. Ellen Watters Sullivan would have been there too if the Cape hadn’t been suffering gale-force winds.

musician Solomon Murungu

musician Solomon Murungu

GLOBAL AFRICA: Creativity, Continuity and Change in African Art, an exhibition of classic, contemporary and commissioned art objects including masks, masquerades with videos, photographs, carved portraits, textiles, metal arts as currency, and an interactive Learning Lounge for all ages.” [From the Fitchburg Art Museum’s website].

In the foyer, Solomon Murungu’s music filled the cathedral-ceilinged space with haunting melodies which I later learned were traditional Shona ceremonial songs (read more about him here). It was amazing to me how much mood and sound came from his single instrument — the mbira.
african textile-elephant-indigo-deemallonThere was a buffet of delicious Brazilian food (my favorite? the fried plantains). And, African fabric was draped around almost as an afterthought.

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Ife Franklin double exposed with shaman

What follows are pictures from the day** mixed in with other images that I took back in March at a Boston exhibit of Ife Franklin’s incredible work.

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Ife Franklin emerging from Slave Cabin, Boston

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this is the piece purchased by the Fitchburg Art Museum

The Boston Globe has featured Ife’s work many times. One particularly nice article is here.  I won’t try to describe the spirit and integrity and visual pizzazz of her work, or I will never get this post up, but I encourage you to read about her. Not surprisingly, her indigo pieces are among my favorites.
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IMG_6064 IMG_6070 IMG_6073The ‘Masquerade Ensemble’ by Cuban artist Nelson Montenegro (2013), has visual and ritual ties to Nigeria. I was taken by the patchwork, of course, and learned that the rafia cuffs and neck adornment ‘refer to sacred forests’. The bells at the waist were to dispel negative energy. The visiting shaman in the gallery also wore bells — around his ankles.
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Ife Franklin. Look at those textiles!

yours truly in Boston

yours truly in Boston

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* My reflections on the Royall House Slave Quarters overnight are here. The Slave Dwelling Project founder, Joseph McGill, Jr., Catharine Sasanov’s and Ellen Watters Sullivan’s reflections on the night in Medford are here. Clennon King was handing out copies of his newly printed article about the experience, featured in that Sunday’s Boston Globe.

** Sorry to make you suffer through my enthusiastic experiments with the DianaPhotoApp. I think I’d had it about a week at the time.

“Explored” on flickr

IMG_5541What a shock to find more than 18,000 views on this picture! The pleasing (and to me, astronomical) number was the result of flickr posting the image to their “Explore” gallery.

It came at a time when I’ve been reconsidering flickr. I’ve adjusted to their new format, I have. But, I don’t enjoy going there so much anymore and I don’t groom the way I used to — don’t always bother to populate my albums, add tags, see that there are comments, never mind respond to them.

Don’t look to it for connections. Been thinking that instagram might better suit. [I also found myself wondering in a paranoid flash, “Wouldn’t it be really, really creepy if flickr somehow KNEW I was ready to bail?!!”]

Anyone else? Where do you put your pictures, with what expectations and what results? Where do you find connection? Have you switched platforms in the last few years? Is blogging dead?
As for the picture, it is another weaving study that came out of Jude‘s most recent online class. Below is a pictorial narrative. I am hoping to make nine woven patches in the cloth.
IMG_5531 IMG_5532 IMG_5538IMG_5544IMG_5547Third of nine, in progress:
IMG_5560This morning, a fall wind blows warm air around. The tail end of last week actually found me putting the heat on. Thankfully, a sweater will do today.

P.S. The vintage linen base came out of my 2012 indigo pot. The dotted indigo fabric and the indigo threads woven in — from recent weekend in South Carolina.

Dyed Together — Sea Island Indigo, Day II

IMG_0826The thing I really loved about the second full day of the Sea Island Indigo Workshop* was how dyeing united us. Sounds philosophical, and maybe it is, but I simply mean this: the love of blue made us kin.

Leigh and Sarah

Leigh and Sarah — coated, flexible copper was to keep yarn skeins from tangling

On Thursday– we were parents or not, retired or not, local or not, from the North or the South, staying in the city or elsewhere, but by Saturday — IT WAS ALL ABOUT INDIGO. What are you dipping? How did you do that? Let me see! Batman?!  Honestly, that’s pure genius! Ooooh!

Meghan's son lucked out -- look at that Batman!!

Meghan’s son lucked out — look at that Batman!!

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Sarah successfully dyed wooden buttons

If on Friday, we were felters, weavers, quiltmakers, spinners, storytellers, or fashion designers, by Saturday — we were all JUST INTO INDIGO. The enthusiastic focus that three large vats created was wonderful. It was binding. And the results were nothing short of spectacular.
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doilies, grosgrain ribbon, commercial cotton: mine

doilies, grosgrain ribbon, commercial cotton: mine

IMG_0815 IMG_0816 IMG_0842 IMG_0860It was hard to take pictures. What?!! Pause and lose out on another dunk? How could you? Gloves on/off, hands dried — when you could be twisting a cloth, eagerly dreaming of ghostly stripes or submerging that thrift store shirt?!  And, it was one thing to get faces, sleeves, and shoes blue, but cameras and phones?  Not so good.
IMG_0898 IMG_0900  IMG_0907There were beautiful kimono scraps, woven shawls, and skeins of wool for sale, and even though I ran out of material at some point, I resisted. Do I get extra points for that?
IMG_0809Speaking of getting blue on everything, take a look at Heather, above, and Julie, below.
IMG_0767Margo dyed her hair.Margo (with blue) and BarbaraAnd, I was told I looked like I’d been ‘kissed by a Smurf’! PICTURE TO COME. Kathy Hattori sent me 1/2 dozen yesterday and you all should see at least one, but I want to post this today and though I could easily download pix to ‘dropbox’ I haven’t figure out how to get one to show up here.  You will have to wait!

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Batman creator, Meghan

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I almost fell in a vat when Sage told me she was an Applied Physics major at Stanford – I guess SOME differences still popped!

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Kathy & Ximena conversed in Spanish all w’end. Ximena grows mangoes in Columbia.

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my fave, as you know. it faded A LOT at home (boo!).  Donna Hardy on left.

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Using strips of muslin, linen, and vintage table cloth for ties means you have those at the end, too

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how did she stay so tidy?!!

IMG_0839 IMG_0848 IMG_0871 IMG_5417 IMG_5427We learned Michel Garcia’s 1-2-3 method on Saturday as well — which Glennis Dolce had gone over back in 2012 during her online Indigo Dyeing class, but I didn’t get around to it then.  Maybe soon?
IMG_0753 IMG_0755I didn’t envy Kathy trying to get our attention on Saturday!
IMG_0752The food was so unbelievable that night that it deserves its own post.  Suffice it to say, that the aromas of roasting pig and Carolina Hash were mouth watering by mid-day Saturday!

hash in progress

hash in progress

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Sea Island Indigo Workshop took place September 18-21, 2014 in Charleston, SC.  A field of indigo was grown for us by Donna Hardy, on Rebellion Farm, in Ravenel, SC.  Fiber artist Kathy Hattori, of Botanical Workshops, flew in from Seattle to co-lead the two days of hands-on indigo dyeing.  My participation in the workshop was funded by a kickstarter campaign.

Sea Island Indigo – at Rebellion Farm

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Heather Powers’s hands

For days Two and Three of the Sea Island Indigo workshop*, we convened at Rebellion Farm, about 20 minutes west of my airbnb host in West Ashley.  Donna Hardy was not kidding that she had grown us a field of indigo, and we began by harvesting.
IMG_0623 IMG_0626 IMG_0630The straight-leafed crop in the three pictures above is Golden Rice, for which Carolina is famous. Indigo, below.  IMG_0651 IMG_0652Right about the time I was taking this shot, fire ants were swarming all over my feet. They sting!! After a comic amount of swatting, I managed to get rid of them. Thankfully, only one managed to crawl above my knee.
IMG_0646We selectively harvested because some leaves were more ready than others.
IMG_0656Donna is also growing Sea Island cotton (above and below).  This variety has a longer staple and when woven, has the sheen and drape of silk.
IMG_0664I was lucky to be partnered for the day with fiber artist, Leigh aka Madame Magar (Charlestonmag.com article). After spending twenty years making hats, Leigh (below) is now designing funky, barely-constructed clothes and creating cloth-related installations.  I encourage you to follow the link and see what she’s up to.

Leigh, my buddy, tending the pot

Leigh tending the pot

Our gas flame was exposed to a little draft and kept going out.  For that reason, and perhaps  others, our batch was fussy, non-compliant.  This turned out to be OK because we it meant we got to see how the experts made adjustments.

IMG_0681IMG_0683 IMG_0704 IMG_0687Aeration method: pour liquid from bucket to bucket 100 times.  Some in the group went to 500!  After Leigh and I reached 200, we stood in line for the blender.

finally made myself an etui

finally made myself an etui

Notes: Shelley flings ‘garden snake’ off into the shrubs… black snake / smallish.

IMG_0709We got a pounding rain the first afternoon, which sounded incredible on the pole barn’s roof!IMG_0723 IMG_0725 IMG_0728 IMG_0741 IMG_0745 IMG_0749IMG_0777IMG_0798Tomorrow’s post will continue at the pole barn.  You can read a nice narrative about the weekend here (Heather Powers’s blog).

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Sea Island Indigo Workshop took place September 18-21, 2014 in Charleston, SC.  A field of indigo was grown for us by Donna Hardy, on Rebellion Farm, in Ravenel, SC.  Fiber artist Kathy Hattori, of Botanical Workshops, flew in from Seattle to co-lead the two days of hands-on indigo dyeing.  My participation in the workshop was funded by a kickstarter campaign.

The Gullah Lady – Sharon Cooper-Murray

IMG_0474The Sea Island Indigo Workshop weekend* began on Thursday, September 18 at the Charleston Museum with a rag-quilting workshop and storytelling by Sharon Cooper-Murray, aka ‘the Gullah Lady‘.  Sharon is a compelling performer and interesting historian, as well as a fiber artist and writer in her own right.

Here’s a 25 second example of a Gullah tale that she told at Boone Plantation recently.  If you hunt around YouTube you can find lots more!  And, Charlestonmag.com posted an interview with her here. The Gullah story that we heard was vivid, complete with foot stomping and arm gestures. Translation needed — you could tell that some urgent message needed conveying, but not exactly what (turns out the hens used to rise first in the morning, not the roosters, and the story told why).

beautiful example of rag quilt - it weighs a TON, even without backing or batting

beautiful rag quilt – it weighs a TON


indigo strips provided!

indigo strips provided!

Rag quilting is a no-sew method of quilting making.  Strips of fabric are poked into a loose weave base and tied on top.  We used burlap for the base and a nail for an implement.  Earlier makers used feed sacks or possibly, the loose weave fabric used to construct slave garments, osnaburg (also called ‘Negro Cloth’).  It is a resourceful means of cloth making — requiring no needles, thread, or large scraps.
IMG_0464IMG_0477Sharon brings a work-in-progress along with her, to which we were all invited to insert a strip.
IMG_5395Here is Sharon — as herself — constructing one of her Indigo Babies for the dye vat.  She sells these at fairs locally.
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IMG_5475Of course once I got home, I devised a shortcut — using a tapestry needle and longer strips.
IMG_5477IMG_5480By stitching with enough slack between pokes, the strip can then be cut and tied, four at a time.

I love the back!

I love the back!

This method would be a terrific way to use up fabrics that are not needle-friendly.

*****

Next up:  visit to Avery Research Center, then two days of indigo dyeing in a pole barn!

Sea Island Indigo Workshop took place September 18-21, 2014 in Charleston, SC.  A field of indigo was grown for us by Donna Hardy, on Rebellion Farm, in Ravenel, SC.  Fiber artist Kathy Hattori, of Botanical Workshops, flew in from Seattle to co-lead the two days of hands-on indigo dyeing.  My participation in the workshop was funded by a kickstarter campaign.