Category Archives: color

Muddling to Enlightenment

“Mid Summer”, 2014, Laura Foster Nicholson (copyright). 28″ x 35″, wool with cotton and metallic

Tomorrow marks the opening here in New Harmony of my first show of all-new work since 2010.  I have been in a major hiatus away from weaving after the last exhibition of new work opened in Santa Fe in 2010 failed to sell anything (yes, I am accustomed to making my living from the sale of my artwork). I had thought it was wonderful work, and it crushed me that Nothing Happened.  I have continued to show that work, and I have sold some of it as well, so my ego has recovered somewhat, but in the process came a deep examination of what I expect from my artwork beyond making a living.

The time off was spent working very hard to find alternative, creative, means of support, which mostly involved textile design and hand-crafted objects.  Both are processes I greatly enjoy, but neither nurtures my soul the way that art making does by invoking  the voice of the individual speaking what is true.

I wrote about all of this at length in my last post so I will get to today’s point.  As I drive back and forth across the midwest from here to Chicago mostly, I spend the hours contemplating how I can make weavings that talk about the amazing and significant architecture that is springing up wherever I look, in juxtaposition to the modernist, “conventional”, swaths of endless agriculture.  These are the enormous, awe-inspiring and scarily anthropomorphic power towers for transmitting electricity. Along with cell phone towers and the occasional, beautiful and bright wind turbine, they punctuate the rural scene with an insistent hubris, and are reminders of our addiction to power.  I recently asked a friend who knows more about these things than I, why does it seem that I see more of them every time I drive?  He responded that even with renewable wind energy, we still need the power towers to transmit the electricity.

Am I the only one who ponders these things when I am driving through the fields?  Ah, then I find this inspired design as I scroll through Google images:

“The Land of Giants”, Choi+Shine Architects

So I am inspired to try to make sense of these through my art, and the best way I know to make art is to weave.  Even though these power towers seem like giant textile constructions, they would be murder to make as woven (all those non-90 degree lines!).  For a while I fantasized about learning to make Batternburg lace and making them that way.  (Here world, I throw this idea out there for someone else with more time to figure this out!)

But I digress.  I like to use weaving the “easy” ideas to ponder how I will move along, as well as to ponder where I am going.  The hands at work makes the ideas flow like clear water.  I have found that color is thrilling me again.  I wove several pieces on a not-to-waste 6-yard warp I had wound on a year ago (!), when I was thinking of doing something else entirely.  (For those of you who don’t weave, this is a major investment of materials and time, as a 30″ wide warp at 30 threads per inch is 900 threads carefully handled throughout the whole process…).  As I fought the predetermined color and fineness, I started experimenting on another loom with scaled up thread, same weave, still wool, but heftier (and thus carrying less ability to hold detail).  I find that for where my head is right now, the heavier threads are giving me a new language of color, and I am thrilled.

But the Power Towers?  ach. Not yet.  As I drove through Posey county regularly this summer, however, in addition to enjoying watching the color waft through the spectrum week by week as time worked on the crops, I began to notice our own interventions.  This area is part of the Illinois Basin, a deep midwestern oil resource that brought us an oil boom in the middle of the 20th century.  The landscape is full of oil storage tanks, small oil pumps, flames shooting off gas exhaust at night.  I realized that this is all part of the story, and part of my current weavable vocabulary as well.

“Uneasy Sunset”, Laura Foster Nicholson, 2014.  Wool with metallic and cotton, 27″ x 28″

I rushed to complete this work in time to hang the show yesterday.  I am thrilled with the color (though this is a hasty photo), less thrilled with the craftsmanship (haste makes waste…) On we go. Watch this space!

Color and Weaving in My Work

detail. Prairie Pillow, private commission 2009

I have been writing some articles about woven color for Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot Magazine (Handweavers’ Guild of America) over recent months, and yet sadly neglected this audience. So here is a copy of a recent article about how I use color when I weave.  This is from the Winter 2013 issue of SS&D.

Winter 2013/2014 Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot 31

When I first met a loom at Kansas City Art Institute in 1973, I was mesmerized. It was a frame loom, and I wove a free form seashell tapestry replete with wrapped coils and beads. Well, maybe that was the second tapestry I made on it; the first was probably a sampler. But the joy of making a beautiful woven picture will never be forgotten. We moved on through learning four-harness weaves, and I delighted in making all of the various samples, experimenting widely with materials. But my heart stayed with tapestry, as all of my previous artwork had been figurative drawing. So began a very long career in learning to combine what I love—color and drawing—with a specific gridded medium with many limitations in those two areas.

Early Influences
For a year or two I experimented with weft-faced tapestry and made quite a few which I still love. I had been working with a professor from the painting department, Warren Rosser, who had a great influence on me in terms of concept and creativity, and he would have me paint over sections with dye if the color wasn’t working, or pull the threads out and re-weave areas if necessary. This works well for painters who can dab at any area of a painting that needs altering, but it was a bad practice for me. I had to find a way of getting more in control of my process and my colors.

I was also wanting more translucency in my color—no doubt Rosser’s suggestion—as having woven so many other samples in various balanced weaves I had become impatient with the flat color of weft faced work. So I began to pursue what has become a lifelong study of woven color in a very narrow set of parameters.

Laura Foster, Rug, 1975. Weft faced tapestry, wool with cotton warp; 45 by 30 inches. 


Embracing the Woven Structure
What came first was to embrace my medium of woven cloth: accept what it can do and push against the perceived limitations to forming cloth with integrity. I had been reading William Morris and Owen Jones on
figuration in textiles, and was impressed by their commitment to the two-dimensional woven plane. Both insisted that it was folly to try to make representational imagery in the convention of painting (as, for example, in Renaissance tapestries designed by painters) because cloth inevitably ripples in space (in its applications) and thus the illusion becomes confused. For my own purposes, this view was perfect, and I have worked within that all these years since. (I acknowledge that many works in textile defy these conceptual limitations with great success!) Because my aim has always been to produce works based on image and drawing, I have stayed with very simple weave structures which support more refined shaping of curves, etc., and I work in a relatively fine weave of 30 ends per inch.  I first attempted simple tabby with inlay, coarsely sett at 15 epi, which resulted in translucent grounds and denser figures. I would paint the warp before commencing the weaving to vary the color and proceed with a discontinuous weft inlay. This was great as long as I wanted the translucent base fabric, but if I beat hard, of course, I soon had a mess on my hands as the inserted areas built up and the ground weft packed down. Still, the color and surface were intriguing to me.

Laura Foster, Beetles, details, 1976. Rayon with wool inlay, painted warp; 45 by 45 inches.

Theo Moorman weave was suggested to me, and I tried some samples.I loathed it (with apologies to all who love it) for its hard-edged angularity and the rigid looking gridded dark-and-light weave. I am sure I could
have carried on and found some brilliant ways to use it, but it did not feel right. In addition, the structure favored fairly low detail and more geometric, simpler forms, than the subjects, which interested me.

Samples woven by Cally Booker, United Kingdom, 2012. 
Photograph by Cally Booker.

Choice of Structure
Several years later, while I was at Cranbrook pursuing my MFA in Fibers, I was striving to find a finer cloth that could carry more detail to make a more interesting use of cloth and pattern. Historic European, Persian, and Indian textiles were of great interest, and I wanted to produce textiles with images that reflected a richness of color and surface. I reduced the size of my threads and looked for a weave which would provide capability for good detail, yet still leave the emphasis on form rather than texture: a simple weave.  I examined both paisley and Kashmiri shawls, and found them to be based on fine twill grounds. Moreover, the Kashmir shawls were woven in three-harness twill tapestry with interlocking wefts, or discontinuous
weft with no ground weave, whereas the Paisleys were woven with a ground weft and continuous weft brocading. The long weft floats on the reverse between brocaded areas were often clipped to reduce weight. Neither structure was exactly suitable to my needs, so I devised a discontinuous weft inlay system to avoid the long floats on the reverse.  This also enabled me to use a much greater variety of brocade colors.

Kashmir shawl (detail of front and reverse sides), Kashmir, 19th century. Cashmere fiber.


Jacquard paisley shawl (detail of front and reverse sides), Scotland, 19th century.


In the Kashmir shawl, you can clearly see the twill structure: each colored thread is a separate discontinuous weft thread, which interlocks at each edge with the neighboring thread.  The white outline thread, also woven in, is circled above on the face and on the reverse to show how the interlock occurs. This gives dense clear colors, but is extremely labor intensive. There are approximately 100 threads per inch. In the Jacquard paisley shawl, the twill weave shows plainly on the face. There is an ivory ground weft holding the cloth together, and, as you can see on the reverse, several colors of inserted continuous brocade wefts. The floats have been clipped after weaving to reduce the weight of the shawl.

The beauty of a three-shaft twill is that the turnaround at the edge of each design motif interferes less than it would with a more complex pattern, or a longer float. Also, with three harnesses, there is no balanced weave possible; your options are weft dominant (over two, under one thread), or warp dominant (under two, over one thread.) I attempted the twill tapestry (discontinuous wefts, interlocking) in one or two pieces and was frustrated with the labor involved in interlocking tapestry versus inlay brocade, so I modified the three-harness weave to include a ground weft.

Laura Foster Nicholson, detail, Burr Comb, 2009. Wool with cotton; 30 by 24.5 inches

I would lift shaft 1 and insert all the discontinuous brocade wefts, then lift the next shaft as well and throw the ground shuttle. Not only did this relieve me of the labor of manually inserting discontinuous wefts for
background areas, but I was delighted to find that the brocade weft slipped neatly in front of the ground weft, thus not hampering packing, but hiding the ground weft. That was a major color breakthrough for me because I no longer had the ground weft diluting the color of the inlaid thread, and also it solved the problem of packing too much in one area and not enough in  the ground. The resulting cloth was also weft faced in the figured areas, and warp faced in the ground, a perfect equation for making images. I want color density in my inserted images, and the warp dominant background provides both a textural change and a distinctly different color effect.

I say “weft dominant” rather than “weft faced” because one sees two thirds of the weft color and one third of the warp color. So in fact one has a slight translucency working. Ditto with the warp-faced ground: one third
of what shows is ground weft, which affects the remaining two thirds of warp showing by giving it the color from that weft. This still did not solve all of my color problems, but it gave me fluidity in drawing and ease of
construction, which was gratifying.

I still wrestled with certain color problems that resulted from always having some warp infiltrating weft color. Most problematic were compositions involving extremes in value (the lightness or depth of a color) and complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel, such as red/green). In each case, when crossing a color with one so intensely different, the weave could not maintain the color saturation I desired.

Laura Foster, Topiary Garden (detail), 1982. Wool and cotton. 


What happens above, in this detail from Topiary Garden (1982), is that the very dark green of the topiary forms brocaded is lightened and de-saturated by the pale colored warp threads. You can see the deep green warp striped running throughout. I attempted to ameliorate this problem by my old trick of staining the warp with dye in places, so the dark inlaid brocade is slightly more saturated, but still unsatisfying.

In the detail from Cabanas (1987) the attempt to use strong primaries on a circus striped ground of yellow and blue backfired with each color being diluted in some way. It was difficult to manage a sense of brilliant color when often a deep color was cut by a lighter value, or a pure blue was rendered greenish by the yellow warp. You can see in the detail that in the weft-dominant inlay sections, the colors do seem more saturated, but in the background, for example, it was impossible to maintain a saturated yellow-blue stripe. I had to weave it with either yellow, which would push the blue toward green or blue, which would dirty the yellow. As the blue was stronger, I chose to support the yellow with a yellow ground weft.  Full Spectrum breakthrough I worked this way for a number of years, and, being the color junkie that I am, was occasionally frustrated when attempting color palettes, which required strong contrasts.

Laura Foster Nicholson, Deauville Cabanas (detail), 1987. Wool and cotton.

I learned to balance colors, watching as they intermixed in the weave and blended optically to form new colors, and then one day Theo Moorman popped back into my head and I began a more directed search. Taking her basic theory of alternating dark & light tie-down warps, I decided to employ alternating warm and cool warps. In essence, in the 3-harness twill I use, raising 1 out of 3 threads forms the tie-down for the brocading threads, then raising that shed along with the second sequential set of threads brings up two-thirds of the warp, and the ground shuttle is inserted. The difference is that in Theo Moorman’s technique, there is specified supplemental tie-down warp. In the three harness twill, one warp does all the work.  Fruit Cellar was one of the early experiments with deliberate warm/cool warp. As a close look reveals, each warp stripe is predominantly warm (a mid-range terracotta) or cool (a mid-range drab green), alternating with a rather
“neutral” dull brass, which is approximately half way between these two hues. The weft striping (ground thread) is a deep brown to pull down the saturation level of the two colors, so that the inlaid wefts can pop in contrast as each is free to push toward warm (like apples) or cool (like the green pears.)

Laura Foster Nicholson, Fruit Cellar (detail and close-up of weave structure), 1989.
Wool with cotton and silk; 34 by 32 inches.

Looking closely at this detail of the weave in Santolina, you can see there are vertical bands of warp colors. The lighter band on the left uses a blue-green (cool) and terracotta (warm); the darker band on the right uses a deeper teal and the same terracotta (I do this to add the stripe interest to the warp). You can see how the warm-colored weft (dark terracotta stranded with a black/white seed novelty thread) traverses both stripes
and is affected in color by the difference in the stripe, moving upward into the brocaded area. You see less of the warp threads and are focused more on the weft brocade colors, even though you get flecks of the warp threads showing through.

Laura Foster Nicholson, Santolina, (detail close-up of weave structure), 1993. 
Wool with cotton and acetate. 



Now here’s the math: since every other thread is either warm or cool toned, rather than one-third of the color mix being, say, cool (which supports the cool green brocade hues), only one-sixth of the visible color field (warp and weft) is warm, and the rest reads cool (on right). Stony Path and Watery Stones are two related pieces, one woven on a predominantly warm warp (terracotta) and the other on a cool warp, deep blue. It is quite difficult to manage color on a very strongly colored warp.

Laura Foster Nicholson, Stony Path and Watery Stones (detail) 2003. Wool with cotton.

The deep blue tends to desaturate the warmer colors woven into it, whereas the colors on the terracotta
seem brighter, even though they were woven with the same brocading colors. The reason for this is that terracotta has a mix of all three primaries in it: a lot of red & yellow, but some blue in it too, whereas blue is a primary and so it does not support the other two primaries, red & yellow (both warm), to the same degree. Generally colors appear cooler when woven with blue, which renders warm colors more drab. I find that working on mid-tone colored warps, the balance of dark and light is more manageable than when working on strongly dark, light, or brightly colored warps. The more saturated the color, the more difficult it is to balance the inserted weft colors, particularly when one desires a contrast. The warp in the detail of Planting Line alternates brown with either terracotta or a twisted grey/black thread, forming a mid-to-dark tone. You may remember that if you mix all three primary colors together you get brown, so I reasoned that it contains a percentage of each color, and thus supports each brocaded inlay in some portion. Hence the green is as vibrant as the orange, in relation to the deep ground. Some of this is optical—the relationship of complements tends to push each color to seem more vibrant.

Laura Foster Nicholson, Planting Line (detail), 1992. Wool with cotton.

Burning Barn was, as its name suggests, intended to produce a hot glow of fiery color in the depths of a dark wood. With such great contrast, I decided that the warp itself should change color to support the information. A high contrast was needed, with no compromise of the orange fire, so a strong yellow warp was dipped in black dye by sections. The yellow supports the bright green foreground and also brightens the fiery orange of the building, in strong contrast to the dark woods, which were inlaid with a deep green wool thread over the black dyed warp areas.

Laura Foster Nicholson, The Burning Barn, 2011. Wool with cotton, dip-dyed wool warp;
30 by 29 inches.
 

Pulling it All Together
Throughout all of these years of experimenting with color, I have kept a few constants: I use the same weave structure which serves my image-making purpose well; I use wool warps, which carry saturated color extremely well. My ground weft is usually wool or a mix of wool with other fibers, but my inlay threads are generally mercerized embroidery cotton. This is for two reasons: embroidery floss is available in a wide range of colors, including variegated or space dyed effects. And more importantly, the sheen of the thread lifts the color “out” from the weave. A wool inlay thread tends to sink down and mix more with the warp, whereas a thread with some gloss tends to appear as if it is sitting on the surface. It also then tends to deflect the eye from the underlying warp striping, if there is any.  Color for me is not a matter of taste or decoration: it is essential to the stories I have to tell. By working with all of my options within a constrained format, I have learned both to push actual color as described above, and to play color tricks, implying more intense color by using complements, balancing related values against contrasting ones.  I use variance of material and texture if it enhances color effect; I use novelty yarns to add tiny color details, and I use space dyed yarns to imply depth. When I see something in my head which I can’t figure out how to manifest, it is often time to push that color as hard as I can. There is no room here for favoritism. Every color is a hard working tool in my cabinet of curiosities. As my ideas about the world evolve, I hope that my weaving stays flexible enough in its ability to express them.

Laura Foster Nicholson is an award-winning textile artist and designer at LFN Textiles, internationally known for her handwoven brocaded tapestries. She designs custom textiles for interiors and household textiles for companies such as Crate & Barrel. Nicholson also writes about color trending for www.pantoneview.com and served as a juror for HGA’s Small Expressions 2013.

Photographs by the author except as noted.

Beetles (detail).

Rowland Ricketts III Talking about Indigo

Today I had the great pleasure of going into nearby Evansville and hearing Rowland Ricketts III speak about his life in indigo.

It is always a treat to see Rowland.  Here is a man who is so wholly devoted to one substance, one central process, that his entire conceptual being is wrapped up in a single integrity which is hard to match in today’s world.

I have known Rowland for about 8 years now, watched him move from a man with a vision to a man with an intense reality.  He grows his own indigo, processes it, ferments it, adds his home made lye (made of wood ash from his woodburning stove) and dyes his heart and everything else deep, calm blue.

Immanent Blue, Installation at New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art, 2009.
gradated shades of dyed indigo panels; dried indigo plants

One of my favorite tangible things about him is his always-blue hands.  In the plants, in the dye, every day. An additional beauty is that this dye is non-toxic and he CAN stick his hands into it with impunity (a question on his Facebook Page, Indigrowing Blue: Can I use our kitchen blender? I don’t think there’s anything harmful in the Poligonum tinctorium leaves. ”  His answer: “ I use just water and leaves. As much leaf and as little water as possible. You can use your kitchen blender.”) 

I am Ai, We are Ai. Installation of fabrics individually dyed by master dyers of Japan.  Tokushima, Japan, 2013

Today’s talk underlined his deep commitment to process as content.  The integrity of the process, the deep craft, becomes his purpose and give meaning to every step.  This is the way it is done.  This is the way it has always been done, because this is the only, best way. From growing the plants, drying, pulverizing, sorting, composting and storing the final blue dye powder, to developing and fermenting the mysterious, alive and potent, indigo vat, Rowland’s world is deep, deep, deep.

Dried and crushed indigo leaves, ready for composting (from www.rickettsindigo.com)

dip-dyeing paste-resisted fabric panels in an indigo vat  (from www.rickettsindigo,com)
Ramie panles printed with indigo dyes.  Shown at Melvin Peterson Gallery, University of Evansviille

For information on the processes of growing indigo, processing the leaves into dye, and preparing the dye bath, there is a very helpful website that Rowland (consummate teacher that he is) has prepared about his Indigrowing Blue venture at Indiana University, where he is assistant professor of textiles.  The site covers the process from saving seeds and planting them through harvest and drying the plants.

Rickett’s indigo vat at Indiana Univesrsity, fermenting away.  Photo from www.rickettsindigo.com

Sightings of Orchid

I will confess to being a bit dubious when Pantone announced “Radiant Orchid” as its Color of the Year for 2014.  Quite a peculiar color, often accompanied by sounds of mock retching!  But the genius of The Pantone Institute is that when they want to bring attention to something, they just can.  Sometimes I wonder if they chose orchid because of these negative reactions, feeling ornery and contrary.  But as I was going through my myriads of photos from the Houston International Quilt Market last fall, I realized that orchid was already a going thing, long before the announcement.  (And, if you have access to www.pantoneview.com, which I write for, you might have seen the video about the choice of Radiant Orchid as 2014’s color, and noted like I did, that it was filmed in February 2013).

What is so interesting about watching color trending is how the psychology of it all works.  Pantone twigged onto the fact that orchid was in use and still under rated, so they grabbed it and made a fuss, so it sells even more.  OR maybe Pantone set us all up for that.  Trends are interesting and trackable, and perhaps can be seeded into culture much like clouds are seeded to make rain, but for me, intuition is the most valuable resource I have and I am always paying attention to my peripheral vision.  What inspired today’s post for me was an emailing from mainstream craft giant Joann Fabrics about Radiant Orchid.  Clearly, this color is carrying through its destiny.  I don’t remember the same happening for 2013’s Emerald.

I have written at length for Pantone View about the color trends at the Quilt Market this past fall.  As it has not gone live yet, here is an excerpt from my article, on the life of orchid among savvy quilters.  Most of the images are drawn from the quilt exhibits, but some are from commercial vendors as well.

SIGHTINGS OF ORCHID AND GREY
Orchid crept frequently into the mixes, adding a quirky and sophisticated twist to both muted and bright near primaries and deep pastels.  Grey works very well with orchid, either as warm neutrals or nearly inky cool tones.
Credits top to bottom (all photos by Laura Foster Nicholson):
1.       Chimney Sweep, Quilt by Kaffe Fassett (detail)
2.       Archicoop, quilt by Jenna Brand (detail)
3.       Night Sky, quilt by Tula Pink (detail)
4.       Striped Rice Bowls, quilt by Kaffe Fassett
5.       quilt by Aardvark Quilt Patterns
17-3020 TPX Spring Crocus,  17-3907 TPX Quicksilver, 17-1558 TPX Grenadine, 
19-3926 TXP Crown Blue, 13-1310 TPX English rose, 15-1247 TPX tangerine
In making a palette, I need to look carefully at the array of colors presented and choose the colors which for me, make the whole vision exciting.  Limited to six colors, it is tough to grab all of them.  In the end, the palette itself is the goal, and it becomes a whole new animal with DNA extracted from the assembled images and recombined to give a sense of visual satisfaction.

More Crochet by Sophie Digard

As one might notice from the article immediately previous to this one, I am a big fan of Sophie Digard’s amazing work in crochet. I have a small collection of her scarves that I add to as I can afford to; having found my first one at the Robin Richman shop in Chicago many years ago.  Here are some of the photos I have taken or collected over the years, without further commentary.  I hope you find them as rich as I do!  For more images and the opportunity to indulge in buying one, you can go to my favorite place for textiles,  http://www.selvedge.org/shop/sophie-digard

Green

I once wove a tapestry, inspired by the names of small Wisconsin towns, called “Black Earth, Spring Green“.  Now I write about the color of the small town where I live, as it is indeed Spring Green time right now and there is nothing so thrilling for me as driving through the country on a sunny day in the late afternoon and watching the color shift.
 

High contrast in late afternoon sunlight shatters a single color into brilliance and shadow.  Shades of green sharply divide between sunbright green-yellow and its cool deep forest green shadow.  In the American Midwest, the sweet viridian green fields of blue-green winter wheat are beginning to sprout the ears of wheat, turning pale celery toward golden at the tips.  Each day now the palette will shift, as it does, also, every hour in the sunlight.   At this time of day, everything assumes a bright golden cast, with the deepest of shadows etching all the details in high contrast.

Wild mustard takes over the fallow fields but as disking begins, it will fall and and the color of the field will turn abruptly to purplish grey.   Other fields are shifting out of their bracken-red-brown winter coats into indeterminate but imminent green.   

And some fields, already tilled and seeded, are momentarily a grey-mauve soil which will shortly begin to erupt in tiny yellow sprouts, growing day by day until the dull earth color is engulfed.

 

 

color in the sun

In the midst of a generally chilly and grey spring, the sun came out for  a few dazzling days this week, and I went around exploring bits of Winston Salem, NC neighborhoods.  In contrast, I was also viewing a highly charged, color saturated exhibition at SECCA (more on that shortly), and could not resist comparing the colors I marveled at in the museum with the funky resale shops nearby.  Here is Cookie’s Shabby Tiques, on Reynolda Street near SECCA.  Saturated mustard and verdigris, with slashes of primary colors against an intensely blue sky.


And to follow the palette, a lush painting by Tomory Dodge, showing at SECCA.
Tomory Dodge, Delta, 2006, oil on canvas

Natural Dye Workshop with Michele Wipplinger

I have been off line so long you all must think I drowned in all of the spring rains I was complaining of!  It has been a summer devoted more to design than to art, and I write slightly more frequently about that work on my other blog, http://lfntextiles.blogspot.com. However, with a show scheduled at Patina Gallery in Santa Fe this October I am beginning to weave again in earnest and will begin posting about that soon. 

Earlier in June, however, we did have the natural dye workshop with Michele Wipplinger that I had posted about.  It was fascinating to be able to produce such a broad range of colors from her natural dye extracts.  We had participants from New York, Nepal, and Senegal, Docey Lewis having brought in colleagues from these places to catch up on dye technology.  Keith Recker, editor in chief of Hand/Eye magazine was among us too.  We worked in the lovely little Sarah Campbell Blaffer pottery studio in New Harmony, well lit and surprisingly well suited to our task.  We had some glorious cool sunny days and were able to spread out yarns out under a shade tree to dry.  And I want to point out the great fashion statement in the long red & yellow gloves!

  

Dyeing as if the Earth Mattered with Michele Wipplinger

I am so lucky to live in this marvelous, creative and inspired Utopian community.  We are graced with restaurants, art galleries, antique shops, world class architecture, important social history, a fine Inn, and TWO textile designers, among our 900 residents.  Docey Lewis and myself have a great time sitting around coming up with creative ideas for spreading our textile wealth, and our latest idea is to begin a series of textile-based workshops led by prominent artists to bring new visitors to our magical town.

The first workshop will feature reknowned dyer Michele Wipplinger of Earthues.  Here’s the information, or you can go online to http://naturaldyeworkshopnewharmony.blogspot.com

Where:      Sara Campbell Blaffer Potter’s House, New Harmony, Indiana

Cost:  $500 ( includes tuition and materials fee); $680 (includes tuition, materials fee, and 3 nights double-occupancy + breakfast at the New Harmony Inn)

This workshop focuses on an ecological approach to natural dyeing by creating multiple color combinations in one dyebath. Using diverse fiber types such as wool, silk and cellulose substrates, in combination with Earthues’ natural dye extracts, four artful color combinations are possible, including an indigo overdye. This method uses one dye pot per team of two and two indigo vats.  From this simple, low water and low heat method, a multitude of hues emerge, creating a unique and diverse color palette.

Sponsor: New Harmony Artists Guild

Contact:  Docey Lewis doceyDLD@aol.com 812-682-3868 or
Laura Nicholson lfntextiles@sbcglobal.net 812-781-1348

Register online: http://naturaldyeworkshopnewharmony.blogspot.com/

For room reservations contact the New Harmony Inn  http://www.newharmonyinn.com/

T: 800-782-8605  (Six double rooms have been reserved. Mention Natural Dye Workshop)

This workshop is limited to the first 15 registrants.

Make checks payable to: New Harmony Artists Guild  

Mail to: Docey Lewis, Workshop Coordinator
             P.O. Box 6
             New Harmony, Indiana 47631

Valentine Red, color of the month

February certainly was a memorable and eventful month. Mostly memories of events I would prefer not to remember. I wrote about red a few times recently, including about weaving on this dazzling red warp. I had to abandon it for a while due to moving into my new home and various other activities (that sounds light!), culminating in a week with my family in Virginia. The last night there, I managed to fall down the stairs and break my right wrist, so I am now sporting a lovely RED cast and yesterday I took it over to the loom to see how it works.

I am so relieved to tell you that I can weave! The brocading part is a piece of cake, as my fingers are totally free and relatively nimble, if stiff & swollen. Throwing the shuttle is trickier. I can manage it but must watch how I pull my arm back — can’t twist the wrist, and don’t want to throw wrong and break threads. Fortunately, with brocading work, the motion is slow & interrupted anyway and the real facility lies in the fingers’ work, so all will proceed smoothly, albeit more slowly than usual. When I finish this piece — which is “In My Mind’s Eye I am Fine”, I have one left to do before shipping all of them out to Hibberd McGrath Gallery in Colorado, where I have a one-person show opening April 2.