Thursday, June 28, 2012

color and chemistry

I am still catching my breath and stopping my brain from spinning. I signed up for a workshop in natural dye techniques with Michel Garcia at Shakerag last week, and instead I found myself immersed in chemistry 101 and then some. Our brilliant teacher took on a group of 17 women, some of us self subscribed experts on the subject of natural dyes, and immediately turned our worlds upside down.

We started out with the indigo vat, which he in all of 30 minutes whipped up, using only indigo, fructose from boiled fruit peelings, and pickling lime. Then we moved on to resists using clay and arabic gum, and then onto mordant and discharge techniques using benign ingredients like iron, vinegar, alum, citric acid, and soda ash (no, no, not all mixed together...). 

And so the week progressed. With patience and determination, Mr. Garcia convinced most of us, that it is much better to know beforehand why something will or will not happen in the dye pot, rather than making every dye session an experiment and a guessing game. He taught us how to make clever color charts using a range of mordant solutions on one pieces of cloth, and then dipping them in different dye sources.

To be honest, it was a week of hard work. By day 5, when we finally were let loose to experiment on our own, almost all of us suffered from information overload and creative melt downs. But it was all worth it. I feel that my dye attempts from now on will be much more informed and deliberate - there will still be surprises (and maybe disappointments), but now I have the tools to figure out why and how to redeem it (should I choose to...).

Shakerag workshops are always magical (this was my third year), not only for the rigorous and wondrous teachings, but for the beauty of the place and the people who visit. Every person there, whether learning, teaching, or staffing, has something to share and contribute. This time I was lucky to meet up with many old friends (Marianna, Michelle, Ilsa, Judilee, Catherine, Christi, and Patricia) and make new ones (Lisa, Joy, Barbara, Linda, Meg, Cari, and Angela). I feel so lucky to have been there yet again.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

here and there

I spent last week with my wonderful family at Sandbridge Beach, with lots of sunshine, delicious meals, reading, and quiet quality time. This morning I am getting ready for my drive to Sewanee, Tennessee and a week at the Shakerag workshops. I am eager to return to this magical place, to learn (this year I am taking a class with Michel Garcia), and to meet up with some great friends! The blog will be quiet while I am gone, but I will keep up with the weeks activities on my facebook page. Join me there if you like.

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