Preparing For My 3rd Indigenous Fashion Week

“The Aikido of Marketing: Go where your customer is and your competition is not willing to go!” Martin Brossman

Join me as I prepare to participate in my third Indigenous Fashion Week in three years.  It’s an honor and privilege that I don’t take lightly to represent the textiles cultural traditions of the dispersed and scattered historical North Carolina Tuscarora Confederacy.  I teach workshops demonstrating color transformation on cloth from plants, flowers, nuts and insects.  My Momma taught me that if we witness transformation before our eyes, it gives us hope that regardless of our present circumstances, we can transform our lives.  The lessons my mother, two grandmothers, a great-grandmother and the elder women in their circles taught me through creating color, stitching and cooking are life lessons that enable me to be strong and resilient.  It was my dying mother’s prayer that I share our survival stories through creative hands experiences associated with natural dyeing and stitching.

This season, I’m enlisting technology to help me share my journey to Indigenous Beauty, Fashion and Design Week at Otahpiaaki 2019 in Calgary, Canada.  The theme this year is Isstoiyitahsinni or Winter Count.  Indigenous Fashion is a gathering place that includes intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual connections to the patterns, designs and garments we choose to wear.

Dried Indigo

I will be broadcasting live on Facebook and Instagram showing what I’m doing and why I’m doing it with a weekly Fiber Fridays where you can ask me questions.  At long last, I’ve figured out how to make videos of my creative process to post on YouTube even though I’m working solo.  And, I will be podcasting once a week on my new channel Seed2Runway.  I will share educational information about events, creative processes and indigenous design elements and interview movers and shakers from the world of indigenous fashion who inspire and influence me.

So where do I begin. I took three workshops sponsored by my local Small Business Center at Wilson Community College:

I purchased the Seed2Runway domain from Google Domains for my podcasts, which in my opinion is better than Go Daddy.  Google is $12 a year and includes email@yourdomain and privacy protection is included.  I’m beginning my podcast endeavor with just my iPhone.  My thinking is to just jump in the podcasting waters and learn by doing. I am writing a script and planning my podcast episodes.  I’m going live one week from today, Friday, October 11th. In the meantime, I’m redesigning my Facebook business page to focus on my new creative direction. Will also be updating my Linkedin profile and taking a more active role in managing that SM platform, since teaching workshops seems to be part of my here and now.

“Life is an adventure which can take you to unknown and unexpected places!” Carola Jones

Healed Beside The Mississippi

SITE:/ation 9th Ward Nola

Not a day passes without me remembering where and how I was last year this time.  The miracles of time, place, and memories.  Except for Divine Mercy my life living independently came dangerously close to being over.  Being in a nursing home and then at Minnie’s house with an open surgical wound in a constant pain level of five plus taught me how to dig deep and be thankful for every breath.  Acute pain was teaching me how to cowboy up and stop drowning myself in memories of yesterday.  Forgive and move forward because our circumstances can change on a daily basis.  It’s the journey, not the destination unless the travel place is Nouvelle Orleans.

It’s taken me a week to lift the veil of the New Orleans Spell.  The shifting sediment of the Mississippi River continuously renews the land of the 9th Ward.  The land has an energy and creative spirit born out of being flooded so many times by apocalyptic amounts of hurricane rain.  Each drowning of the land brings a rebirth of seeds of hope that produce art demonstrating survivance in New Orleans style.  Music, dance, art, fabrics, and fashion are ingrained into the soul of the 9th Ward.  It’s timeless! Now the Mississippi Delta has freed indigo blue as medicine through SITE:/ation.  And, as Olivia Butler teaches, “What we change, changes us!”

Earth Day: Witnessing Survivance

SITE:/ation 9th Ward New Orleans

Two and a half weeks in the 9th Ward of New Orleans changed all of us Fabrics & Fashion Folks at Material Institute.  The land of the 9th Ward is ground zero for the apocalyptic destruction of being flooded due to a hurricane.  From the 1915 Hurricane, Flossy 1956, Betsy 1965, Georges 1998, Katrina and Rita 2005, and Ida 2001.  Before Katrina, the 9th Ward had the largest number of black homeowners in New Orleans.  However, post-apocalyptic Nola experienced a significant population decline.  Now like almost all of New Orleans, a vacant property is investment capital for out-of-state investors.  That is until the next large flood, which will happen.  The land is the Mississippi Delta, it’s meant to flood and regenerate itself.  The magic of Nouvelle Orleans comes from this regeneration.  It is the Spirit of Congo Square, the birthplace of American Music, Mardi Gras, colorful ornate architecture, good food, cutting-edge art, and Creole Elegance.

Now the 9th Ward is bursting with creativity, as it demonstrates to the world the transformation of what comes after a flood.  It’s humbling to witness survivance on land that has suffered so much pain and destruction.  Life isn’t fair, and people lost their lives and all their belongings in the 9th Ward over several generations.  The swamp underneath the paved streets with colorfully decorated shotgun houses captivates us in a spell of descant creative energy that feels like capturing time in our Mason jars of indigo starter.

When we made Mason jars of our indigo stock solutions, we were remaking ourselves in the sludge of The Blues.  It takes strength and courage to rebuild in a place after it has been repeatedly submerged under stagnant hurricane rain.  After the water goes down and the land dries out seeds of hope can bubble up into a little canoe on the backs of our ancestors.  This is one of the many miracles I witnessed during Passion Week in the 9th Ward. Live music blended with stitching and binding up The Blues with a dash of Geechee something, something in a hot pot of simmering plant-based indigo is transforming us.  Textile making at Material Institute is collectively growing as we demonstrate SITE:/ation 9th Ward Nola.  What a wonderful Earth Day Celebration from a shared real-life experience!

The Penland Experience

Last week my class went on a field trip to Barton College to attend an art opening featuring Wilson Active Artists. My Penland Buddy, Susan Fecho, is the program director. My connection to Susan is the Penland School of Crafts. When I saw Susan Fecho, the feelings of being on Penland Mountain came rushing back through us.  The Penland Experience is always a part of all the people who have been transformed by the creative energy surging from the oldest mountains in the world.  Our energies grow exponentially when two or more of us meet off the Mountain.  I see it in our faces!  That’s the energy I want to carry to Nola, along with teachings from “Yat’s Kitchen” and the Indigenous Women Healing Circle across from the Columbia River at Spillimacheen, BC.

Now, I’m three of four on Indian Women’s Business.  We’re under the authority of a Healing Vision by Teresa Strawberry, a heredity Sun Dancer.  And I’m part of a mixed-age group of strong warrior indigenous women.  I’m honored to be in the same space as these authentic earth-gifted souls. So begins my journey back to la Nouvelle Orleans. The “Okanagan Twins” travel from the ancestral and unceded territories of the Syilx People to the birthplace of American Music. My unbinding freedom journey from “The Blues” which triggered an out-of-body near-death experience this time last year.

Spillimacheen, BC Across From Columbia River | Indigenous Women’s Healing Circle

Quilting Geometry: Points, Lines, Line Segments, Rays

Fabrics & Fashion Afterschool

NOTE: My cover image was designed using EQ8.

Day 004/365: Calo’s Birthday | January 8, 2023

WHO: You, Your Story | Concept: Identity

WHAT: Art Form: Textiles | Process: Quilting (Mini Quilt 20.5 inch square) | Category: Modern Improvisational | Process: Story Quilting | Techniques: Improvisational Accidental Piecing, Raw Edge Applique, Machine & Hand Stitching, Hand Drawing, Canva Graphic

WHY: Real Life Application of Geometry Points, Lines, Line Segments & Rays & To Explore the Concept of Identity Using Historical Textile Practices

Step #1: Create an 8.5 x 11 Line Drawing, Enhance Using CANVA (To Be Printed on Fabric)

  • Drawing Supplies Needed:  8.5 x 11 inch Card Stock, Either Charcoal Pencil + Handheld Sharpner or Black Sharpie.
  • Draw “What You Feel” Lines to fill up the page.
  • Snap Image. > Upload 2 CANVA. Enhance to tell your story. Download & Email to be printed on Fabric.

Step #2: Modern Improvisational Quilting

Research Links:

  • National Endowment for the Arts, “ The Quilts of Gee’s Bend: A Slideshow >>Web Link<<
  • Quilting Daily, “Traditional Made Modern: A Fresh Take on Traditional Quilt Patterns >>Web Link<<
  • Sewing Machines Plus Blog, “Traditional vs. Modern Quilts – What’s the Difference? >>Web Link<<

Step #3: Mock-Up Mini-Quilt Design on Paper

  • Geometry Design Parameters: MUST HAVES: At least one line & several line segments points & rays.
  • Design Pattern Supplies Needed:  Brown Paper, Sharpie, Ruler & T-Square or 20.5 inch Square Quilting Template
  • Design an improvisational quilt layout inside your 20.5-inch square. Focus on determining the size and placement of individual parts to be pieced.

Step #4: Using FABSCRAP Fabric (Recycling & Reusing Designer Fabric)

  • Decide on a color scheme and select fabrics from the FabScraps. To tell your story you can also bring found fabrics, or photographs that can be scanned and printed on fabric from home. However, the majority of the fabrics needed for this project will need to be from FabScrap remnants.
  • Manipulate the FabScrap remnants to tell your story using different surface design techniques, such as:
    • Mark Making using markers or paint.
    • Screen Printing or Monoprinting.
    • Embroidery, with or without bead embellishments.
    • Decorative Machine Stitching.
    • Raw Edge Applique.
  • Layout design and glue to paper. This design will serve as your pattern guide to create your mini quilt.

Step #5: Putting It All Together

  • Machine piece your fabric components together. All your seams should be 1/4 inch. Iron as you go using a hot iron with steam. Press seams to the dark side, meaning press steams towards the darker fabric.
  • Roughly cut cotton batting 1/2 inch larger than the quilt top. Spray base to hold in place.
  • Roughly cut the cotton backing fabric 1/2 inch larger than the batting. Spray base to hold in place.
  • Apply a quilt label and two triangle corners for hanging your quilt on the backing fabric.
  • Machine stitch all three layers of your quilt sandwich using either a Walking Foot or a Free Motion machine foot.

Fabrics & Fashion Workshops are Made Possible by Grants From Wilson Arts & The National Endowment for the Arts.

Stitching Up My Blues

Life Is Choice Driven!

Day 001/365: Calo’s Birthday | January 8, 2023

January 8th was Dr. Carolyn Juanita Pierce’s Birthday!  Calo is my BFF4E!  She’s no longer with us in our physical world but she’s very active as an Ancestor.  The theme and concept of life being about choices were the backbone of Calo’s ministry teachings.  So on her birthday, in celebration of my “Yellow Feather Machapunga Pow Wow Best Friend,” I pledge to choose to walk out the next 13 Moons as a Writer, STEAM Teaching Artist, Pow Wow Dancer, Land Based Fiber Artist, and Oil Painter.

Years ago I attended a Capital Entrepreneurship workshop at Penland School.  One of the first assignments was to write your obituary, and creatively walk out your life forward from the end.  After my near-death experience last year, I get it!  We all leave something behind. I have to make the choice to walk out my life with purpose, or to sit back with Joe 6-Pack complaining and finding fault.  Life isn’t fair! And, none of us get out alive.  Our lives are short, fragile, and filled with disappointments.  For me, hope in abundance is found in indigenous ways of doing, knowing, and interacting with “All My Relations.”  The revelation of the power of Ceremony for native people came as part of my physical healing on First Nation Treaty Lands in Canada.

Three land-based indigenous ceremonies last year changed the course of the river of my life.  The first was the Indigenous Arts Intensive at the University of British Columbia at Okanagan on the ancestral and unceded territories of the Syilx people.  Next, was sharing space on sacred land near Athabasca, Alberta at Whispering Lodge at Thunder Rock: Two Spirit & Friends Sweat Lodge which is part of the Dancing to Eagle Spirit Society.  Finally, the Indigenous Women’s Healing Circle next to the Columbia River at Spillimacheen, British Columbia in the Rocky Mountain Trench.  It was at this ceremony that I learned about IFOT, Indigenous Focusing-Oriented Therapy.  This was the most healing ceremony that I’ve ever witnessed.  It speaks to the core of my being and connects me with an intertribal network of women focused on healing ourselves, our communities, and our land.

Today marks an end and a new beginning.  My sunset on being overwhelmed by The Blues of my life, and welcoming a sunrise of hope by sharing with the people of tomorrow.

“It begins with WATER & The Blues …..

Fiber Friday | 10.21.2022

Preparing Silk for Surface Design Techniques: Eco-Printing, Abstract Painting & Marbling

Eco-Printing on Silk

The Making of Carolina Indian Summer Colors on Silk, Fall Collection 2022.  Shimmering Flower Petals Eco-Printed on the Natural Hue of Habotai Silk.  Over-Dyed with Marigold Flowers or Madder Root.  Silk Habotai 8mm Scarf – 15″ x 60”.  Hand-rolled hems with 100% silk thread.

“When Learning Something New Make Three >> Cynthia Bringle Teaching”

Cynthia Bringle, Pottery Teaching @ Wildacres

To Scour or Wash Silk You Will Need:
>> Dr. Bonner’s Liquid Castile Soap
>> 9-Quart Wide Mouth Aluminum Pot Dedicated to the Dye Process.  For Me, Wide Mount Instead of Deep Pots Work Best for Scouring Silk Scarves)
>> Heat Source
>> Digital Kitchen Scales

Unlike plant fibers, silk doesn’t need to be scoured with soda ash to prepare it for surface design techniques.  Using silk isn’t part of my cultural tradition but is a contemporary post-modern process that I use.  I learned surface design techniques from Christine Zoller at East Carolina University’s School of Art and Design in the Textiles Department.  Through trial and error from my own experiments, I’ve developed best practices that work for me.

Washing Silk

I pre-wash my silk before painting, eco-printing, and dyeing to remove any leftover residue from the Seracin or silkworms that can cause the fabric to produce uneven color effects.  At first, I used to weigh and record my silk on a kitchen digital scale, and accurately calculate how much mordant I needed to use.  Now that I’m doing production work for a seasonal collection, I eyeball the way I learned to cook.

Depending on the quantity of silk that I have to pre-wash, I fill a wide-mouth aluminum pot with enough tap water so that the silk can float without being bunched up.  I bring the water to a full boil.  Next, I cut off the heat, and add approximately one tablespoon of Dr. Bonner’s Castile Soap for every gallon of water.  Then I add the silk to the hot water and let it sit until the water is cool.  Finally, I rinse the silk in warm water, and either dry it outside on my clothesline or inside on a drying rack.  However, if I’m going to paint or dye the silk, I keep it wet in a Ziploc bag, for the mordant process.

Silk Mordant for Surface Design Techniques

To Mordant Silk You Will Need:
>> Alum
>> Wooden Spoon to Stir
>> Large Crock Pot

Silk is a cellulose or animal fiber, and I mordant it with alum or Aluminum potassium sulfate.  I mordant in pottery because Momma, Mama, Yat, and Grand Mere did all their mordanting for natural dyes in round bottom earthenware pots in a fire pit.  Grand Mere is the one who taught us all about how to mordant cloth because she dyed trade wool, cotton, and linen and sold piece-work like her mother before her.  Mama was the one who came up with using a crock pot, so I’m following her visionary teaching.  I add water to a large crock pot, let it boil, add the alum, and let it simmer for at least two hours.  I use the alum sold at a farm supply or grocery store for pickling and canning.  You can also purchase alum from dye supply stores.

I use approximately 15% to 20% alum to WOF for eco-printing and full chroma marigold and madder values.  For light values, I use approximately 10% alum to WOF.  When mordanting the same items for production work, I eyeball measure using tablespoons.  However, it’s important when you begin the mordanting process to calculate your measurements by weighing and recording the WOF.  Once you calculate your percentages, break down the amount into a measurement that’s easy for you to eyeball.  I use tablespoons but you can choose another option. After the mordant process is complete, I dry the silk by hanging it on my clothesline or placing it on a portable drying rack. When dry, I store the silk in a sealed plastic bag or bin. Have fun preparing your silk for surface design techniques. To follow my process stay tuned for the next blog on eco-printing.

Mama’s Barbecue Sauce | NC Down East Style

Created by My Grandmother, Minnie Haskins on Daniel Hill in Wilson, NC

On a cold rainy day when the wind is howling, I need comfort food that reminds me of warm childhood memories smelling mouth-watering sensations.  An all-day rain event with cold wind gusts is such a day!  I’m baking center-cut pork chops with Mama’s homemade barbecue sauce.


  • Can of Tomato Puree (29 ounces)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (2 Cups)
  • Molasses (¾ Cup)
  • Lemon Juice (1 Tablespoon)
  • Dried Onion (1 Tablespoon)
  • Dried Garlic (1 Tablespoon)
  • Red Pepper Flakes (2 Teaspoons)
  • Ground Black Peper (2 Teaspoons)
  • Turmeric (1 Teaspoon)
  • Paprika (1 Teaspoon)
  • Cayenne Pepper (½ Teaspoon)
  • Salt (A Pinch)
Baked Pork Chops with Homemade Barbecue Sauce


  1. Place all ingredients except molasses in a saucepan
  2. Cook on the stovetop at medium heat.
  3. When hot just before boiling point, slowly stir in molasses until it’s completely dissolved.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Cool to room temperature.
  6. Pour sauce into a wide-mouth Mason jar.
  7. Refrigerate before serving.
  8. When ready to use, remove the top from a Mason jar, and place it in a warm water bath for a few minutes.
  9. Stir well, and pour over meat to be baked. *Works well with pork, chicken, and beef.
  10. To make clean-up easy, bake meat with barbecue sauce in an aluminum pan. Cover with foil while baking at 300 degrees. The length of baking time is determined by the type and quantity of meat. North Carolina Down East Barbecue cooks slowly until it’s tender.

Fiber Friday: Using Natural Indigofera Tinctoria Powder, Chips or Chunks

Water Matters! When It Comes 2 Indigo & Natural Dyeing

Four generations of women in my family have all taught me that when it comes to indigo and natural dyeing, water matters!  Long before the “Water Is Life!” movement, Doris, Minnie, Mat, and Grand-Mere had learned the importance of water in the natural dye process from their grandmothers.  I was taught that rainwater was the best water to use for natural dyeing and that hurricane water was twice as blessed.  We describe hurricane water as, “De heeby wet harricane raan.” In contemporary practice, when rainwater isn’t available, I use purchased distilled water.

How To Ball-Mill Plant-Based Natural Indigo Powder Using Indigenous Salt Water Geechee Peoples’ Ways of Doing

Mason Jars to Collect Rainwater

Since Eastern North Carolina is expected to have a hurricane later this week, I’m sharing my great-grandmother’s teachings on how to collect rainwater, and how to soak indigo for ball milling to use in a fruit vat. She would have used dried indigo plants to soak, however, I’m using purchased plant-based natural indigo powder instead.  *NOTE:  If you’re using a synthetic or pre-reduced indigo power, these instructions will not work.  Instructions are for natural indigo powder only.

I remembered Grand-Mere’s teachings earlier this summer when I was teaching indigo dyeing at the University of British Columbia at Okanagan during my art residency.  The plant indigo powder didn’t dissolve well.  I don’t know if it was the water or the high altitude, but it didn’t thoroughly dissolve in either the fructose or henna indigo vats.  Consequently, I’m returning to my great-grandmother’s Geechee ways of processing indigo with fruit sugar even though I’m using contemporary dyestuffs.

I have two in-person and one online art sale coming up at the end of the year.  My goal is to create enough ball-milled indigo stock solutions to dye my fabrics, wearables, and home goods.  Supplies needed include large Mason jars, glass marbles, and a container to hold the jars.  I’ll also need plant-based indigo powder and fruit sugar.  I’m using quart-sized wide-mouth Mason jars and black stone flower vessel fillers.

My Plan:  Place the Mason jars in a dish pan, and place it outside to collect the rain.  The location of the outside placement depends on the wind gusts produced by the hurricane.  I need to collect rainwater in the Mason jars without having them flip over.  It may mean that I place the jar while it’s raining.  I’ll take pics and make a video.  Stay tuned!

I Didn’t Know My Own Strength

When I got on a plane during the Memorial Holiday weekend, I didn’t know my own strength.  Anesthesia from surgery plus Oxi had numbed my physical pain, but put my brain into a foggy haze of an alternate reality.  I arrived back in Wilson on an August day of full wattage sun with high altitude thunder clouds.  The humidity felt sultry on my skin like a long-lost lover.  Healed! My brokenness mended!

I was exhausted from a two-day airplane misadventure when my flight from Chicago to RDU was canceled due to weather.  To get home I flew the next day to New York and changed planes to arrive at RDU.  I experienced an abundance of divine intervention in Chicago through help from strangers.

With my blood sugar low, wholesome food restaurants closed, and the prospect of sitting in the airport all night Gretchen Polzin-Ridley from Grand Blanc, Michigan offered me her banana, which rescued me.  Then two American Airlines employees blessed me with a taxi, meal, and hotel vouchers.  This enabled me to sleep in a bed instead of staying awake all night in an airport chair.

The talking news heads report about how divided we are as Americans.  Well, I witnessed kindness, generosity, and compassion while waiting in line for four hours to rebook my canceled flight out of Chicago.  O’Hare is one of the busiest airports in the country, and the majority of the people I encountered were kind.  Yes, there was one extremely rude grumpy buns American Airlines employee, and several were overwhelmed by the high number of flight cancellations.  But, overall, American Airlines employees were trying to do their best to remedy an unfortunate situation.

So, I’ve been in Wilson for one week so what’s next?  Continue to work on lesson plans and the 10-week schedule for the afterschool STEAM Textiles workshops for which I was awarded a grant from the Art Council of Wilson, and the National Endowment for the Arts.  If you live in Wilson and have a child or grandchild interested in fashion design, please check out my >>website<< for more information.  The after-school program is for middle schoolers and is sponsored by the new YMCA in downtown Wilson.

Completing artwork for a Wilson Active Artist’s group show at the Mims gallery in Rocky Mount which I have to deliver on August 25th. The two Eastern Woodlands indigo-dyed wool blankets that I created on The Okanagan arrived yesterday.  I’m submitting “The Traditional Mating Medicine Blanket” for the Mims Show.  My plate is full with completing renovations to turn my childhood home into a Fiber Studio, teaching in an after-school program, and creating a new body of work.  But, I’m up for the challenge to make every day productive.  Between my near-death experience in March, returning home, and spending the first night in my own bed in August, I’m learning my own strength.  TGBTG

DJ’s Southern Pound Cake Recipe

Doris Jones

This recipe was created by my late momma, Doris Jones, who was a home economics teacher for 43 years, and owner of a cake baking and wedding catering business. This recipe creates a crusty pound cake that is light and airy. In our family, we like warm cake, so we toast it before serving it. In Summer, we use this cake to make strawberry or blueberry shortcakes by placing the batter in large muffin pans. You can also use layer cake pans, to create a stunning wedding cake decorated with buttercream icing.


  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 6 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3 cups Berry Sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons of either pure vanilla extract or lemon extract
  • 3 cups of fluffed all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

The Process

  • Step #1: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and spray a 12-cup bundt pan with baking spray.
  • Step #2: Beat sugar, butter, and cream cheese at medium speed for 8 minutes.
  • Step #3: Beat in 6 eggs, one at a time on low speed.
  • Step #4: Add half & half and extract on low speed.
  • Step #5: Rough measure 3 cups of flour and place in a ziplock bag. Fluff four, then measure accurate 3 cups in another bag. Add salt and fluff some more. Add to cake batter in four additions with mixer on low speed.
  • Step #6: Bake cake low and slow at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 30 minutes.