Wednesday, March 28, 2012

heike gerbig

Photos courtesy Heike Gerbig. All rights reserved.

The best aspect of being part of the blog world is definitely the wonderful people you connect with. One of them is Heike Gerbig from Berlin. I came across her blog Gerdiary several years ago, and with time we started to exchange comments and emails.

Photos courtesy Heike Gerbig. All rights reserved.

Heike is a former journalist and writer turned textile artist. She is taking her wordsmithing to a new level incorporating phrases and poetic thoughts into her work, which consists of fabric collages, notebooks, jewelry, and soft creatures. She uses vintage fabrics, remnants, paper, and natural dyed cloth for her creations. Her work is wonderfully textured, beautifully hand stitched, and often made with a humorous, slightly edgy twist, which I love.

Last fall we decided to start a natural dye sample swap. So far I have received two packages with lovely swatches from Heike. It is really interesting to look at the samples and compare with my own results. The plant materials we use are sometimes different, which inspires me to try new experiments. It is a true gift having these swatches on hand, knowing they were dyed by someone dear, far away on another continent. Make sure to check out Heike's web shop as well as her etsy store. Many treasures there to be had.

Photo courtesy Heike Gerbig. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

oh indigo

We are about to enter week four in my online indigo workshop with Glennis Dolce, and I am having a blast. I still don't really understand the exact chemistry behind this dye process, but I love the instant gratification of dipping the cloth into the vat, pulling it out 2 minutes later and watch it turn from yellowish green to blue in an instant. Magical.

I am working with two vats - one is a pre-reduced natural indigo vat, and the other is a 1-2-3 vat originating from French indigo dyer Michel Garcia. The pre-reduced vat involves using both soda ash and thiox (color remover) and I am sure that the indigo crystals themselves has undergone some chemical treatment to become "reduced", so to call it natural is probably a stretch. But it does give a nice, nice blue color, especially after repeat dips. The 1-2-3 vat consists of nothing but natural indigo powder, powdered fructose, and powdered pickling lime. It was ready to use after just a few minutes, smells sweet and delicious, and dyes the loveliest pale shades of blue that builds up to a rich medium blue over time.

We are also working on some shibori techniques, such as clamping, and scrunching (my term). The scrunching creates the nice sky like pieces. And the folding and clamping is just fun, fun, fun... I am so happy to be messing with dye pots again.

Monday, March 12, 2012

spring cleaning

Once again I am thinking of directions to go and new places to take my art. I feel stuck in a cycle of wanting to secure an income by making smaller and more production oriented work, and a longing for creating something bigger with a farther reach. So I am doing a spring cleaning, both physically and more philosophically. I am trying to sort out what ideas are worthwhile pursuing, and what should wait, and to come up of a list of goals to stick with. Here are some initial plans.

Taking a break from etsy. I opened my etsy store in 2008 and for the most part it has been a huge success. Lately I have noticed a lag in activity, and I think that etsy has become such an enormous marketplace that unless you constantly update your inventory, network, and actively market yourself it is hard to be seen. Instead I am moving my shop to big cartel, where it can be uniquely mine both in looks and content. I would love to know what your thoughts are on this. What are the pros and cons of a more independent web store?

Submitting work to juried exhibitions. This is something that always has intimidated me in the past. But I have come to realize that if I want to consider myself a true artist I need to dip my toes in the chilly water. I want to exhibit more and expand my resumé.

Limiting my production work. For now I will stick with one of a kind sachets, books, book covers, and pillows. Those are things I love to do. The pieces I make are still unique and stand out in a crowd and working on them makes me happy.

I am of course continuing my wall pieces and collages. They are the focus of my work and my true love. But this time I also want to get better at promoting them.

We will see where all this leads. It is always easier to jot goals down than to live up to them. In the spirit of blatant self promotion I encourage you to visit my website, and my web store. I would love feedback, good as well as bad. And I have a new artist page on Facebook, please join me there too if so inclined. Happy spring!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


The crossroads quilt is finished. By tomorrow it will be en route to its owner. I can't wait for her to see it! The colors in the piece are more subtle than they appear here. The harmonious shades of the natural dyes is what I love most about it!

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