Tag Archives: shibori

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!!


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.

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!


Batman creator, Meghan


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


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


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


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


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

  *  *  *

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.

Something lightens


“River House”

This house was built in preparation for the class I’m teaching this Saturday at the Boston Center for the Arts.*  While probably not apparent to a viewer, this quilt pulls together many elements of recent learning.

How so? For one, it’s lighter than I usually work (exploring white online with Jude Hill).  It has a less defined horizon line. The house sinks into its surroundings better and displays a little perspective (the two barn pieces taught much!!! here and here).  And, the attachment techniques are more refined (and yes, that is the same green plaid I used to roof the two big Barns).


component building

Off-top building” —

By that I mean connecting small elements with stitch prior to trying to connect them with the background (the “top”).  In this case, I HAD to stitch these teeny house elements together, because I couldn’t keep lifting and shifting the background fabrics without going nuts if I hadn’t. Once stitched, I could easily lift the entire component and rearrange the background fabrics.

Note to self: when constructing a component, use pieces of fabric that are already part of the background!

Reducing the number of pins required for when the piece is in your lap is always a good thing. And, this component-building has the additional virtue of reducing stress about shifting windows and doors, some of which are smaller than a standard-sized postage stamp.


‘sky’ fabrics dyed in backyard last summer using chemical indigo (I know! I know! – haven’t gotten to the plants, yet)

Again, because of the work with white over at Spirit Cloth, I laid some gauze over rectangles on the surface. They are staying. For a while, I shifted the house lower down (photo above) and exposed a piece of the underlying linen napkin (just above the roof). I liked wondering what it might be like to leave an unadorned white section, there, right in the center of the quilt. What matters? The house? Or the empty space above?


‘shadow’ of house is an overlay of polyester from a shirt

It is not something I have committed to yet. In the photo above, I have shifted the house back to center, covering not only the white linen, but that mauve rectangle (another goodie from Sandy Meegan, by the way!!).  I like knowing that that empty rectangle is still there, even if I’ve covered it.

Of course, the entire underlying linen napkin is THERE.

The pale blue water fabric came from a fabulous skirt depicting scenes of a European city on a river. I normally eschew ‘cheater’ fabrics (the name says everything, doesn’t it?), but here I am happy to employ.


Back in 1980, I lived in SF and worked in a copy shop.  The best part of the job was access to a color copier, which was BRAND NEW technology then!  The house image came from a photo of a duplex I occupied during the last two years of college.


isabella-street-greenAnd here’s a more recent picture (photoshopped church from Newtonville):

newtonville-churchLastly, a collaged card using a cut out photo of a quilt and an Inkydinkydoo moon stamp:


* Class is at Boston Center for the ArtsSat. June 1, 10:00 to 1:00
Free! (but contact the Center, it might be full).

Experimenting with quilt series

It is hard to think about anything but the election or the Nor ‘Easter rambling up the coast, but before too much more time goes by, I wanted to catch up my dear readers on the the Middle Passage quilt experiments.  You may recall “Middle Passage I” after its first dunk in the indigo vat:

It looked  more like blue fog than rising water, so I dunked the entire bottom half.  But first, I used corn syrup as a resist.  I slathered it on with a paint brush, hoping to preserve some of the color of the floral green shapes, the green hut, the turtle, and a few of the red stripes of the batik.
The corn syrup worked as a resist, but it will take some quilting to make it ‘work’ as a visual treatment.  And maybe it won’t.  We’ll see.  Not sure what the sugars did, if anything, to the indigo vat.
The back shows how much dye the quilt has absorbed.  Some dye landed on the upper green/white linen area by accident, so with a paint brush I applied more dye just to the surface (techniques learned in Glennis Dolce’s Indigo Class).  I also shadowed the edge of the moon with indigo.

Last week my fingers turned blue while quilting those floral green areas and the turtle.  And, I was disappointed with what the stitching accomplished.  Between the transfer of dye to my fingers and the presence of batik (notoriously difficult to poke a needle through), I may opt to draw with thread on one of my machines.

Also, it occurred to me that if this quilt is to live on someone’s wall in the future, it will need to be backed with fresh cloth, because I think the dye would transfer to the wall as well.  Maybe I could rinse in vinegar?  Then wash in soap and water?  I did this for the first time with one of the rectangular pieces of linen that I hemmed into a scarf.  Not a trace of blue came out in the rinse, which means success – I think!

I am prepared to be disappointed with these experiments.  It is the very nature of an experiment that the outcome is unknown.  In a way, every quilt is an experiment.  But, sometimes we add new techniques or color choices that scramble things more than usual.  If this one bombs, I will cut it up and try to use the pieces in another way. 

What do YOU do with failed experiments?  And, how do you talk to yourself while trying something utterly new and possibly terrible looking?

November arrives

My thoughts and prayers are with the folks in NYC and NJ and elsewhere, suffering with clean up, destruction, and deprivation.  I hope temperatures stay mild.  It’s gotten a little cold here (outside of Boston) in the last couple of hours.  Here is one of the Berkshire barns, as of this morning.  It is a completed quilt top.

I’m not sure why it turned out to be such a struggle to assemble, but it was.  It’s about 32″ wide and incorporates some of the more successful indigo cloths from this summer.  The indigo worked particularly well for the mountains.  I’m calling it, “Waiting for Snow”.

I created a ‘side bar’ quilt on the work table, taking little breaks from the Barn.  It has a totally different feel, and therefore constituted a visual contrast.  This was refreshing for some reason.
In this one, the structure is merely hinted at, and the landscape has been granted license to be wild and dominant.  Not a surprising choice, given the rampaging punches that Sandy delivered over the weekend, while I was safely working down in my cellar studio.  This composition features some more of my indigo dips, as well as silk from my upholstery-design-contact, quilting cottons, batiks, and that Lonni Rossi broccoli/tree fabric that I so love.
I am hand quilting this little composition today, as the sky greys and a cold rain starts to fall.  Its working title is: “Long Island Blues” (Jude Hill online class project).  In this case, the usual horizon line has been broken up (submerged?!!) by the wandering watery lines of shibori.

Under the catalpa tree out back

There is the dye station.  The pounded dirt and blue tarp over D’s mini-ramp make the whole scene look a little trashy.  Please do not notice the coffee mug and English muffin on the dye table – I know this is a bad practice!!!  But lately, almost every day in fact, I find myself feeling odd, and then remembering that I haven’t eaten anything and rustling up a quick bite, but without really taking a break, and sometimes STILL forgetting to eat (I wish this were true AFTER dinner, when I seem to want to eat all the way until bedtime).  So, yes, I need a little side table for food and drinks.  That’s my neighbor, Laura, who has graciously offered her time here and there and her talent as my intern.

So far the best thing we did together was to throw out four huge bags of fabric.  I craigslisted a Curb Alert, and after a few pickers, someone came and took it all away.  Didn’t get rained on, and if a passing dog decided to mark, it would have hit the plastic bags.

Speaking of dogs, this morning Jack marked a porcelain toilet that was on the curb and left a nice, tangy yellow pool in the discarded bowl!!  Made me laugh.  Made me tip the thing up to drain it out!

This flour sack (I’ve posted about it before) was my husband’s grandmother’s out in Wyoming, where they lived in the mining town of Rock Springs.  I have a lot more of this left that will NOT be dyed.
This was a piece of prepared-for-dye silk that I wish I had dunked one or two more times.  It has faded more since this picture.

one dunk

after two dunks

lacrosse balls inside of cotton

I was surprised to see that one of the chemicals in the dye vat stripped the T-shirt of its original yellow/green color (the thiourea dioxide perhaps – which I notice is packaged by Dharma Trading as a ‘color remover’).
Laura got to make something for herself, too.
The rope line is turning blue in places, not surprisingly.

This vat, by the way, is my first exercise in the Shibori Girl Studio, Indigo Dye Workshop.  I used pre-reduced indigo crystals in the “Quick Vat” recipe.  I have yet to read on rinsing or fixing processes, but am having lots of fun dunking cloth into the bucket.

One of the side benefits of this exercise, is that it gets me outside…
The very first day, back in the beginning of the month, while setting up the station, thunder rolled on in.  A much needed pounding rain materialized and I couldn’t help but feel like the indigo gods were moved by our conjuring!