I stitched the sides of my shawl early this morning. Many have asked about the fabric. It’s unbleached cotton percale fabric. I dyed it red using fiber reactive red dyes and then over dyed fabric in an indigo vat. The indigo dye process subtracted the red dye in places and allowed the natural color of the fabric to show. This process gave beautiful color breaks and color values which wouldn’t be possible if I had over dyed solid red printed cloth in indigo. I’ll dye more cloth in the coming weeks, and blog the process step by step. I’ve gotten many requests to purchase this fabric, so I’ll make some to sell on Etsy along with a few finished fringe shawls. I ordered the unbleached cotton percale fabric online and it costs $15 per yard. This process makes beautiful fabric but the process isn’t cheap. In addition to the fabric, you have the costs of the fiber reactive dyes, the indigo dye, dyeing supplies and chemicals plus your creative time. However, for me the stunning result is well worth the effort. My Momma created and taught me this technique and I do it in her honor. Momma loved fringe!Continue reading “Round Midnight Stitching”
This twice hand dyed fabric is finally becoming a dance shawl with flat fringe. Cotton sateen fabric was first dyed red using fiber reactive dyes. Red represents the blood of Ancestors who’s shoulders I’m standing on to be in this moment and creating handmade. I manipulated the fabric in a random puffy cloud technique and secured it with rubber bands. Mixing five different Pro Chemical powder dyes in an immersion bath overnight created the red. After washing the fabric in blue Dawn, I hung it on a clothesline to dry. Next the fabric was manipulated using a concentric circle technique off the centerfold of the fabric and secured with tobacco twine. I used a natural indigo vat and dipped the fabric seven times. The indigo process removed some of the red fiber reactive dye so I got values of beige. I prefer the results from using this process instead of dyeing red fabric in indigo. My process takes more time, but the result is stunning. Today the fabric has been pressed and I’m organizing materials to begin cutting the flat fringe. Stay tuned! I’ll post the process with pictures.
I’m organizing my living environment into a creative hands working studio. My Momma had a lot of nice things that she collected in my childhood home. Stories and her creative hands are attached to many of these items. But, the bottom line is that I’ve got too much stuff. It’s overwhelming! Momma saved everything. I’ve inherited the fabric stash from five women from four generations. Recently, I was gifted with fabric from West Africa and India that came to me through at least three different women’s hands. As I’m preparing to teach quilting, the stories attached to all this cloth make me curious about the lives of all these women.Continue reading “Cloth As Memoir”
While unpacking boxes, as I settle into my childhood home, I came across my research from teaching Contemporary Art & Design at Chowan University a few years ago. The timing was perfect for me to be my own learner. “Teaching is for learners,” echoing in my ears in my Momma’s voice. The creative process of learning is revoluntary. My life is a witness to the insights gained from handmade craftsmanship. The process of making something out of nothing is healing especially when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances. Life is about taking the bitter with the sweet and learning how to walk out our fears. I’m living in Indigo Blues, seeking contentment with the circumstances of my life. I forgive my self and others. My goal is to stay focused on living in the moment and to learn to trust and obey God’s plan for my life.
Readings and unit lessons from teaching Contemporary Art & Design:
- It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden
- Art & Fear: Observation On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland
- The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
- The Creative Habit: Learn It And Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp
Show Your Work! By Austin Kleon
- You don’t have to be a genius.
- Think process, not product.
- Share something small every day.
- Open up your cabinet of curiosities.
- Tell good stories.
- Teach what you know.
- Don’t turn into human spam.
- Learn too take a punch.
- Sell out.
- Stick around.
I’m a Teaching Artist from a family of teachers and women who loved sewing, quilting, dyeing fabric, weaving rugs, embroidery and crochet. I grew up in a multi-generational home where handmade was a way of life. I earned a BFA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Studio Art with concentrations in Ceramic Sculpture and Painting. I have additional educational experiences at East Carolina University in Ceramics, Painting, Art Education and Textiles and graduate work at Western Carolina University and Penland School of Crafts. My teaching experience includes K-12, community college and university.Continue reading “My Indigo Blues Journey”
Today is Day 03 of my participation living with a square of indigo in a fading box with connections to Japan. The cloth was dyed with indigo from Tokushima and the art project is led and developed by Rowland Ricketts. Four hundred and fifty people are participating all around the world. I feel abundantly blessed to represent Wilson County and Indigo Fibershed. I will live with the indigo in the fading box until early December, when I will mail it back to Tokushima, Japan for a large-scale art installation at Bunka-no-Mori. When the art show ends, my box will be returned to me.Continue reading “Awa Indigo Art Project Ai-no-Keshiki”
I use a lot of indigo! I grow some but not enough to sustain my dyeing explorations, plus processing my own takes more time. I use natural indigo with multiple dips for silk scarves and clothing. However, when I’m dyeing yardage for quilts I use pre-reduced indigo in bundles of three to five yards. I only use cellulose fibers for quilts. Pre-reduced indigo from all three sources seem the same. I used Indigo Kits twice and wasn’t impressed and over dyed my results. The finest ground natural indigo powder that I’ve used is sold at Maiwa. I see color differences between natural and synthetic indigo. However, may people don’t, they just see blue! Home grown natural indigo keeps with the traditions passed down and practiced by women in my family, and I will always honor and respect the process.
|Maiwa | Natural Dyes
#6-1666 Johnston St.
Vancouver BC Canada V6H 3S2
Change Shopping Cart to USD at Checkout
|Dharma Trading Co.
1604 4th Street
San Rafael, CA 94901
|Wild Colours Natural Dyes
Studio 319, Scott House, Gibb St.
The Custard Factory
Birmingham B9 4DT, UK
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|PRO Chemical & Dye
126 Shove St.
Fall River, MA 02724
Orders Only 1-800-228-939
|The Woolery | 859 East Main St. Suite 1A
Frankfort KY 40601
Rupert, Gibbon & Spider, Inc.
P.O. Box 425
Healdsburg, CA 95448
800-442-0455 (US & Canada)
Indigo plants grow abundantly in the fertile black sandy soil on the ancestral homeland of the Tuscarora Confederacy in coastal and Eastern North Carolina. The plant grows as a shrub with spreading branches between three and six feet tall. The leaves are slightly hairy and are separated into leaves opposite each other. The indigo dye comes from the leaves. The plants can also be grown as a cover for other crops and makes an excellent fertilizer. The plants produce pea-like flowers and pod fruit in small clusters.Continue reading “All About Indigo”
This is day number four after attending the Essential Edge Live Retreat, whose motto is “BE BOLD OR ITALIC never regular | Dream It. Plan It. Live It.” My goals for attending this retreat were two-fold: 1) to gain clarity and insights into ways to increase sales; and 2) to network with other creatives to design new opportunities to promote art and creativity. Both my goals were achieved in this two day retreat. I’ve attended other small business workshops but being with other creative people made it more personal.
So, how do I intend to use the knowledge I gained? First and foremost by planning. We started the process of planning next year by breaking it down to quarters, months, weeks and days. Simple concept but this will be my first year utilizing such a plan. I realize the value immediately. The flip slide of planning is accountability. Essential Edge has partnered me with other creatives who are holding me accountable to what I say I’m going to do. This is important for me. I desperately need to be apart of a community of artists who value truth and honesty with a commitment to learning new skills, growing past yesterday and willing to explore the “What If?” possibilities of sharing with others.
To keep myself on task, I’ve promised myself to keep a daily freewriting journal. I’m using a bound journal and writing by hand. To help me become consistent with blogging, my goal is to share a minimum of two blog entries each week. I’ll share my successes, obstacles and failures. I feel my late mother’s presence in my life and I hear her voice saying, “Don’t promise what I can’t deliver!” Momma was a teacher and demonstrated her strong belief that we should share everything that we know. She told me hundreds of time, “share with the world and the world will share with you.” I know my Momma’s truth, that in oder to receive I have to give. I think this is especially true for artists. Being selfish, and wanting the spotlight to always shine on you cuts off your creative energy, hardens your heart and makes you see the world through antagonistic eyes. That’s not the road I choose to travel. So, tune in each week as I journal my journey to make Indigo Fibershed financially self-sustaining, while I have fun dyeing cloth and making quilts.
Last Thursday and Friday, I attended an intensive small business retreat for creatives called Essential Edge Live in Raleigh. This blog now becomes my journal describing my process to dream big, plan effectively and become a successful small business artist.