Saturday, December 30, 2017

Indigo Dyeing with CHI Design

My fiber guild sponsored another indigo dyeing opportunity this fall. We welcomed Caroline Harper of CHI Design. Her company is "an indigo arts studio" working to bring indigo back to the Low Country as a useable, local dye. Caroline works with natural fibers and sells indigo powder. She is working to make the processes to produce powder from  the indigo plant, which she plants and harvests.

We first did an eco dyed scarf; Caroline had 3 natural dye vats for us to use after placing and tying up our natural materials

Then we proceeded to indigo, here is a cake of indigo produced by CHI designs

clamping a scarf for resist using a shibori technique

 Cochineal which has turned purply due to items already dyed in the pot

  I really liked this result

Here is my ecodyed result

And here is my indigo result, possibly one of my favorite indigo scarves that I've done

I find that no matter how many workshops I take, I always learn something new...

Here is a brief video showing Caroline doing some traditional Japanese  shibori techniques

Here is another link to a short film at her website

Monday, December 4, 2017

Glittens...half glove half mitten

So proud of my son who loves flyfishing. In that regard,  I decided that he needed some flip top mittens for this activity in the winter. 

I found the "glitten" pattern. The yarn is Donegal Yarns Soft Donegal 2 ply, purchased at O'Maille's Original House of Style,  in Galway, during my trip  to Ireland last year. 

The pattern is here, and is free   

I used a snap to fasten the flip top to the cuff. 

My son also is  figuring out how to tie flies.  So the question an olive wooly bugger really an insect?  Nope, apparently not all flies are flies...some imitate baitfish and are "swum" /waved around below the surface of the water...who knew?

Here is my son's olive wooly bugger

What I know for certain is that fly tieing is a fiber art...

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fresh Leaf Indigo Vat

I have done a number of indigo vats from using a kit, usually purchased from Dharma Trading, using dried powdered indigo and reducing agents. No opportunity before to do a vat from fresh leaves. So, it was a lucky opportunity to visit Ossabaw Island and learn about fresh leaf vats with the expert, Donna Hardy.

Ossabaw is a 26,000 acre barrier island in the state of Georgia, part of Chatham county (the same county Savannah is in). There is a foundation to support the island, which is pretty much undeveloped. There is a guest house, and a home still lived in by the family that donated it to the state. Prior to the Civil War, Ossabaw was farmed and yielded timber, by slave labor. After the Civil War, it was still farmed and served as a hunting retreat. 

The indigo outing I joined was sponsored by the Ossabaw Foundation.  We took a boat over from a dock just outside of Savannah.

Here, participants are stripping leaves from plants for a vat. 

The vats that we used, there were four for 14 participants, had been prepped by Donna and her friend the night before, so that the water could warm.  The morning we arrived, they added reducing agents to the vats.  More reducing agent was added in the middle of the day to keep the vats going. 

This is a smaller same day vat, that Donna heated with an external heat source. 

Here is the vat before can see the blue of the indicin moving into the water. 

Below are indigo bushes growing around the back porch of the guest house. The indigo was introduced to the island back when indigo was a cash  crop in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida until the Revolutionary War. It was introduced by Eliza Lucas Pinckney in South Carolina,with some help, likely from African slaves who had used it in Africa. The indigo introduced by Eliza was the same variety that still is produced in South America.  I asked Donna whether anyone has genetically sampled it to see whether it still resembles the indigo still produced there, but she said likely not. (South America is the leading producer of indigo in the world at this point in time).

Presoaked items were slowly dipped into the vat, swished about  for a minute, and then squeezed before removing slowly from the vat, to prevent water dripping and adding oxygen to the vat. 

Here are some Gulf Fritallary butterflies on butterly bush, growing together with indigo suffruticosa. 

We did a quick tour of the part of the island near the guest house. Here is a tabby structure still remaining on the island.

These tabby structures are former slave quarters, they were inhabited by workers until about 20 years ago.

My hands..I chose not to wear gloves.  When I got home, I polished my nails with clear polish. The blue tint came off my skin in a day or two, but my nails were a beautiful indigo blue for several weeks. I would definately recommend it as nail polish~!

Some indigo textiles Donna brought to share. 

For a more information, here is Donna's TED talk on the subject of indigo

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Southern Highland Craft Guild

I have been to the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway a number of times in the past. I was lucky to get back in early September. The Folk Art Center is associated with the Southern Highland Craft Guild which represents many craftspeople in 9 southeastern states.

What was different during this visit was displays of antique textiles and handmade textile equipment

Flax working tools

 Would a spinning wheel builder consider himself an artist?  And on that subject, a note on the enduring subject of are and craft...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Biltmore Industries: Preservation of Handspinning and Weaving in Appalachia

I was lucky to visit Asheville during Labor Day weekend this year, and managed to find myself near the Grove Park Inn, now overtaken by big business (that would be Omni Hotels).

While there, I visited the museum dedicated to Biltmore Industries, a concern that produced handwoven fabrics circa 1905 until as late as 1981.  Why produce handwovens at that time, well past the textile industrial revolution?

Perhaps the founders were worried about the loss of skills for hand produced materials at the turn of the last century. However we do know that hand production of yarn and fabrics continued well into the 20th century, as a necessity for many people.   John C. Campell, an educator, surveyed the extreme poverty in the southern Appalachians prior to his death in 1919, from a cart that served as a "mobile home." His wife Olive Dame later founded John C. Campbell Folkschool, mentioned below.

The founders may have been influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, flourishing in England and the US between 1880 and 1920. (The influence of which is seen in the signage and furniture at Biltmore Estate).

Western North Carolina  and Appalachia hold hand crafting and artisan efforts in high regard, as seen in the Craft Schools founded at the beginning of the last century and still flourishing in the area (John C Campbell, Arrowmont, and Penland).

In 1905 Edith VanderBilt founded Biltmore Industries to "bring back" hand production of wool fabrics.

It was a joy to view this small museum.   If you have difficulty reading through my silhouette, this first sign reads

"America’s heritage of handwork, more than two centuries old, still thrives today within the Southern Appalachian Mountains. In recent years, however, thisz heritage has been influenced considerably by forces of modernism such as industrialization, increased travel, and a growing influx of new residents from all parts of the United States.

Change has come to the mountains to stay, but the Southern Appalachian region still remains the nation’s principal stronghold of traditional handcrafts. The purpose of the North Carolina Homespun Museum is:

1.     To depict the history of Biltmore Industries, founded on the Biltmore Estate by r.s George W. Vanderbilt in 1901 and moved to it’s present site by Fred Seeley, Sr., in 1917.
2.     To exhibit outstanding examples of handwork, primarily by North Carolina natives."

This bit was lovely: in 2003 a woman returned a suit for benefit of the museum:

According to this nice blog post, people would go and purchase their wool handspun at the shop, then take it to Pack Square in downtown Asheville to a tailor to be made into bespoke clothing.