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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

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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.

Ingredients

  • 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.

Binding & Stitching Up My Blues

Creating Living Water Is Life Indigenous Indigo Medicine Cloth

I was born to The Blues, as were my mother and grandmother. Our Blues came from intergenerational trauma associated with Jim and Jane Crow and the segregated racist practices of growing up and living in Eastern North Carolina. Our mixed-blood Toisnot Tuscarora heritage was and still is invisible to the dominant Anglo power structure, and to many state-recognized Native American groups. The categorization of people by skin color is still practiced in Eastern North Carolina, especially by many indigenous people. People with Anglo or Hispanic blood ties are favored over those of us with West African ancestral connections. I have 73% Native American ancestry but to many in Eastern North Carolina, I’m less indigenous than someone with 27% Native ancestry and 73% Anglo blood ties. Such is the land that I, my mother, and my grandmother were born on.

The Blues were birthed in Eastern North Carolina in 1715 with the massacre and captivity of Skaru:re people at Fort Neyuheru:ke in Greene County. The captive women and children were marched to Charleston, South Carolina, put on ships, and sold into slavery in Northern states. The Blues are about extreme emotions from enduring hard times, suffering oppression, the joys and heartaches of love relationships, and the hardships from living in skin of color in the antebellum South.

The knowledge of “Stitching Up My Blues” on cloth was transferred to me by Grand Mere or Mary Burnette in Georgetown, South Carolina as she sang spirituals in her heavily accented Gullah voice. Her daughter, Mat Randolph, whom I called Yat was my Godmother and primary caretaker as a child. Yat transferred the concepts of both “stitching” and “binding” up my Blues on cloth. Grand Mere and Yat along with my mother, grandmother, and a great grandmother passed down the traditions of making resist design patterns on bundles for indigo and natural dyeing.

Stitching and Binding Up My Blues Explained at the Indigenous Artist Intensive at Okanagan on the campus of the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Stitching & Binding My Blues In My Own
Words

The Teachings of Tala Tootoosis Taught Me That It’s Important to Wear Clothing of Significance When Participating in Indigenous Medicine Practices | Below Are My Stitching & Binding Up My Blues Outfit

Bundle Teaching 01

Bundle Teaching 02

02 Strawberry Moon | Toisnot Tuscarora Gardening by the Moon | Traditional Textile Practices

Toisnot Tuscarora Resist Design Pattern | Strawberry Moon > June

Another day “Stitching Up My Blues on the musical land of the Spillimacheen Wetlands. The trees dance and sing as the winds blow through them. Spillimacheen is a bush settlement in the Columbia Valley of British Columbia. It’s the East Kootenay Regional District. Located at the confluence of the Spillmacheen and Columbia Rivers in the Rocky Mountain Trench. The wetlands are important to the birds migrating north to south on the Pacific Flyway from Alaska to Patagonia. This is a healing land, where you can see the mountains of Moses and Abraham. I feel Creator’s healing energy all around me at Flyway Farm and Forest. It’s God’s amazing grace that brings me to this place for healing.

Two techniques are used to create Strawberry Moon medicine cloth.  The first is to “Stitch Up My Blues” which was transferred to me by Grand Mere, Mattie Burnette, on her land in Georgetown, South Carolina.  The second technique is to “Bind Up My Blues” taught to me by her daughter and my God-Mother, Mat Randolph.  When I first learned the technique we bound up our Blues with twine but later Yat, my name for Mat, discovered we could use rubber bands.

The design of the Strawberry Moon Medicine Cloth is to create three horizontal lines the length of the fabric in North to South directions.  This makes four strawberry plant bed rows for each of the four land locations, 1)woods off Hwy 42 East, 2)Daniel Hill, 3)Atlantic Street, and 4)Dean’s Farm.  The mountains or folds are stitched with seven rows of running stitches, which will be gathered.  The other areas, which are the strawberry plant beds are bound with rubber bands. I use standard rubber bands for the cultivated strawberries and small rubber bands for the wild strawberries.

Video On How to Get Started Creating Strawberry Moon

Video 01: Getting Started With Strawberry Moon

Stitching Up My Blues

Video #2 on Creating Strawberry Moon

Video 02 Creating Strawberry Moon

Video 03 Creating Strawberry Moon on Spillmacheen Wetlands

Strawberry Moon Design Created by Patti Derbyshire-May During Indigenous Artist Intensive On The Okanagan at the University of British Columbia

Completed Strawberry Moon Medicine Cloth

01 Strawberry Moon | Toisnot Tuscarora Gardening by the Moon | Traditional Textile Practices

Toisnot Tuscarora Resist Design Pattern | Strawberry Moon > June

Created on The Okanagan During Indigenous Artist Intensive

This resist design pattern is based on my memories of planting, growing, and harvesting strawberries with Mama (Minnie Haskins) on Daniel Hill, Atlantic Street, and at Dean’s Farm.  Strawberries represent Spring and the renewal of life and are symbols of blessings.  My ancestor’s associated strawberries with love and hope.  The berries, leaves, and roots are also used as medicine.  As medicine strawberries are antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-parasitic, antiviral, and have the ability to regulate blood sugar.

According to my grandmother strawberries are most helpful for digestive problems.  She used the fruit, leaves, and roots to make medicinal tea for diarrhea, and the leaves by themselves to make a laxative tea.  From the fruit pulp and juice, she made an ointment for skin burns.  During our Strawberry Festival, the berries are cut up and mixed with sweet water made with sorghum, which we drink in celebration.  We also share the strawberry drink during June indigenous wedding ceremonies.

What You Need 2 Create Strawberry Moon Resist Design:

  • Scoured Plant-Based Cloth Either 100% Cotton, Linen, Hemp *No Polyester or Synthetic Blends as Natural Dye will NOT attach to fibers
  • Upholstery Thread & Applique Needle
  • Rubber Bands
  • Iron & Pressing Mat

Teaching to Transgress

Reflections From Creating Medicine Cloth on the Ancestral & Unceded Territories of the Syilx People of the Okanagan

Fabric Drying Out CCS Bldg.

The creative experience of being on the Okanagan, and the connections I’m making are changing the directions of both my life and my art.  My intensive indigenous art residency at UBC ended much too quickly. But all good things come to an end.  As I begin the process of unpacking and reflecting on the experience, I’m mentally reminded of the teachings and philosophy of bell hooks as presented in her book, Teaching to Transgress: Education as a Practice of Freedom.  Most of my creative energy was spent transferring knowledge to two learners.  However, I managed to complete two wool blankets for my art portfolio and upcoming art show.  A traditional Eastern Woodlands Courting blanket that was birthed completely unexpectedly, and a blanket for the Eastern Woodlands Blanket Dance.

Bundle for Eastern Woodlands Dance Blanket

As I witnessed the effect of my teaching on both my learners, I realized indigenous ways of knowing, doing, and creating aren’t all about what I create with my own hands.  The knowledge that I transfer is also part of my creative process.  Before the IAI (Indigenous Art Intensive), I had big dreams of making lots of indigo-dyed fabric to make quilts.  Instead, I spent 75% of my time teaching and feeling like a round peg trying to fit in a square hole.  Everything was off from my fragile health, being able to work in the studio during my most creative time to my sleep pattern.  To top it all off, I caught a cold, my first in almost five years.  I feel like I’m getting knocked backward on my journey for health and restoration, but such is life.

But for all that I gave of myself, I was abundantly blessed by the connections I’m making with other indigenous artists.  As native artists need each other to be our best creative selves.  Together our energies create a strong circle that binds us to the land and to each other.  We share strength, hope, and healing when we exchange ideas as part of indigenous nation-to-nation protocols.  Participating in this Sacred Circle of Creative Knowledge is amazing, and changing the direction of my Earth Walk.  It’s the unexpected manifestation of hope for the land and for all indigenous peoples that makes Living “Water Is Life” Indigo a medicine.

Courting Blanket

Binding Up My Blues

My Binding Supplies

Today I begin transferring knowledge about how to bind up your Blues.  The ancestral homeland of the Tuscarora Confederacy is one of the birthplaces of The Blues.  Men came, saw our fortified townships, our women, and our trading trails, and decided to take it for themselves and scatter us in all four directions.  Some people like my ancestors made the decision to stay behind.  They are known as Gatekeepers because they held the door to all others to get to safety. Then they hid out in plain sight inside Bald Cypress trees in the river swamps in Coastal Carolina.

What I’m binding up today is my getting tripped up in my waking dreams by that little voice in my head saying I’m not worthy, that I’m not good enough.  Sometimes I’m convinced the little voice is true, so I give up and let the chaos of my life overwhelm me.  However, as my BFF4E, Calo, taught me, everything I feel isn’t real.  I’m finding that I have to suffer through my pain and have the courage to face it head-on.  Life can change in a minute.  I thought I was doing fine one Sunday, and by nightfall, I was knocking on death’s door.  In the blink of an eye I lost three months between major surgery, being in a hospital, then a rehab nursing home, and finally living with a relative and receiving home health.

Bundling Up My Blues

Nothing is certain except this moment in time.  I’ve got to live it, even if it means taking the road less traveled. Change happens!  It’s part of life!  My solution is preserving steadfast faith and unshakable hope in The Man born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth who covers me through Sanctification.  I’m free and a sojourner walking on land that is new to me, meeting other indigenous people living on Turtle Island!  The bondage of my ancestral homeland on Contentnea Creek, Toisnot Swamp, Tar River, Pamlico Sound, and on the Banks from Currituck to Chicamaccmico has released me from the intergenerational trauma in the fertile sandy black soil at my Momma’s house.

Binding Up My Blues

My Ritual

Follow the Ribbon Skirt Teachings Of Tala Tootoosis >> YouTube 01 >> All About Ribbon Skirts

Perform the Smudging Ritual

Say a Prayer

Drum and/or Sing a Water Song >> Pura Fe

Sit with your feet on the Earth to ground you to the land.  Let the land absorb your Blues, i.e. physical pain, sorrow, broken heart, despair, loneliness, and intergenerational trauma.

Do deep breathing to center yourself.  Relax.  Let go of yesterday.  Focus all your energies (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional) on being in the present moment.

To create Water Is Life indigo medicine cloth listen to nature sounds of water. Visualize being water. For me I visualize being at Currituck in the Atlantic Ocean.


My Reflections

My Strong Indigenous Woman Outfit

This ritual and indigo dying process are about transformation and healing.  My Momma said, “if we can witness transformation, we can believe that we can transform ourselves no matter our circumstance.”  We all are broken and suffer from The Blues.  But here is where art imitates life in listening to Blues music.  The Blues are about a “Stormy Monday,” “Goin’ Crazy With The Blues,” and “Poor Man Blues.” Blues music is about raw feelings that tear at our flesh.  My indigo blue colors are rooted in my walking out The Blues in real life.  Not only for myself but for Doris, Minnie, Mat, and for intergenerational trauma.

My brokenness manifests itself through my waking dreams and what my mind says to my heart.  These waking dreams and my mind talk compounded by the isolation of Covid almost killed me.  Now my focus is sharp with a laser focus on living with courage, choosing to be happy, and making things with my hands. My reality of transforming my brokenness and healing myself is letting go of yesterday.  My grandmother, Minnie, always taught me this truth, but it’s a hard lesson for me to learn.

My Spiritual Guidance Verse For Today

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Galatians 5:16 NIV