Poppyhead and Seedpod fiber necklaces in Garnish

“Seedpods and Flowers”, my new collection of soft fiber necklaces are now available in Garnish. Right in the heart of Revelstoke, Garnish is an artist owned boutique with a full working studio. The boutique features all Canadian jewelers, three of which work out of the studio space in the back of the store. I am excited to have my fiber art jewelry featured amongst these talented jewelers.

Poppyhead in metallic blue on natural linen with hemp silk cord – hand dyed, screenprinted, mother of pearl button fastening.

Three copper seedpods on cotton and linen with a hemp silk textured edge cord, mother of pearl buttons, hand dyed and screenprinted.

This soft fiber necklace features two pods with a design hidden underneath – copper seedpod on hand dyed linen rayon, hand dyed and painted hemp, hand dyed hemp silk cord with MOP button

Metallic green poppyhead fiber necklace with screenprinted cotton border and hand dyed copper hemp silk cord.

Copper seedpods with Autumn leaf hidden pod – cotton linen, cotton, hemp silk, hand dyed, screenprinted, mother of pearl button fastener

Copper Poppyhead fiber necklace – cotton, hempsilk cord, shibori dyed textured frame, MOP button fastener

Purple and red screenprinted metallic blue seedpod with hidden Bee on second pod.

Vat dyed cloth fresh from the dye pot

Vat dyes are dyes which discharge colour from previously dyed cloth and replace it with a background of new colour. Shibori stitched, bound, twisted or clamped resist techniques can be used to create beautiful vibrant patterns with this dye method. A phenomenon called the ‘halo effect’ adds another dimension of detail around the resisted areas.

I mixed olive, yellow and a bit of black to create this forest green vat dye colour. On the right of this image is a three metre length of  purple dyed cotton cloth I have been working on for months using a stitched shibori pattern called mokume, a traditional Japanese woodgrain pattern(notice the light ‘halo’ around the patterns) I wrote about it here with images of stitched pattern in process.  I used this same straight stitch pattern in a single line to make patterns on selvedged edges which I then use as edging for skirts or cuffs.  Peeking through are bold raspberry coloured shapes which were created with a technique called itajime, and uses clamped blocks to leave patterns on the fabric.

After dyeing and a light rinsing the fabric must be exposed to oxygen in the air for about 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly in soapy water. Clamps, stitching and binding can be removed at this stage but longer pieces will wait until later. I usually snip a few threads on the big shibori pieces to check on the pattern.

Mokume shibori – hand stitched resist pattern on fabric

I have been working on stitching these running lines for the past three winters – not all the time of course, but picking it up on long winter evenings and putting in a few rows at a time. Shibori is a Japanese technique of manipulating fabric by stitching, tying, clamping or folding to create a resist to the dye. When the bindings are released the pattern emerges. This particular pattern is called Mokume, meaning wood-grain because it resembles the organic linear patterns of wood grain.

I have now completed stitching lines about 1/2″ apart on this 80″ by 54″ length of hand dyed purple cotton sateen cloth. I have begun to pull up the upholstery thread and gather them tightly with knots at each end. This stage in itself is beautiful. After being in the dye bath, the threads have to be released and I always feel a little sadness at cutting them and losing the amazing sculptured cloth that has been created by stitching and gathering.

This fabric will go into a vat dye bath, most likely gold or light rust brown, where I will replace the purple visible on the outside with the new colour and when the pattern is revealed the purple hidden inside will form a beautiful and interesting contrast of colours in a wood grain pattern.

I am planning a collection of skirts for this summer and will be using this new cloth in some of them. The skirt in the image below is one I did a few years using the Mokume shibori technique as well as a shibori technique called Itajime to create the bright orange patterns on the yoke. Itajime uses clamped blocks to resist the dye and leaves behind a motif.




Embracing slow clothes

Stitched shibori piece called ‘ori-nui’, or undulating lines pattern

Ever since I started working with the Japanese textile patterning technique called shibori my relationship to the world of cloth has slowed right down. Instead of becoming bored with the tedious nature of binding and stitching cloth, I have embraced the meditative quality of this new ‘slow’ process. It has enabled me to realize my connection to textile traditions and women all over the planet. I’ve also realized the importance of preserving these traditions from cultural extinction so that we may continue to expand on them with new innovations and personal expression.
Bound resist belt sash over shibori stitched resist skirt. The fabric shown above is now part of this skirt.

This concept of ‘slow clothes’ came to me last summer as I sat at markets and art fairs, working on a shibori bound resist belt sash which I was preparing for a fashion show. The technique required tedious but meditative binding of cherry pits into a beautiful piece of hemp silk fabric. I must have spent countless hours on this piece, but the result produced something which I am very proud of. There is no other way which I could have created this beautiful textured piece. Preserved in it’s pattern are moments of my life that summer, not too mention pits from delicious local cherries . My husband had made wine out of them years before and insisted that they be kept for a ‘project’ sometime in the future. Now they are a staple of my craft. In this particular piece many of the cherry pits remain in the fabric to maintain the integrity and texture of the belt. Where they have been removed after the dye process, a beautiful pattern emerges.
Although I have done many stitched and bound shibori pieces, this particular belt sash has become a symbol to me of what I see as the ‘slow clothes’ movement. It was during my wor
k on this belt that I came to contemplate this idea . However, it is also symbolic to me of the connection between food and clothing and reminds me of how indigenous people all over the world have always made use of every part of plants and animals which they ‘borrow’ from nature.

Shibori technique using bound cherry pits to create the resist pattern.

In this fast paced world I havebegun to understand that the gift to the wearer of these ‘slow clothes’ is not only the fact that they are more carefully made and beautiful, but that they are infused with ‘peace of mind’ by the maker. They allow the wearer to participate in a cultural experience of connecting with tradition as well as the joy of the maker’s creative process.

(I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the ‘slow food’ movement which began in Italy in the 1980’s and has since spread all over the globe.)

Slow Food Canada
Slow Food International