Sunday, June 21, 2009

JOAN MORRIS : Shibori Using Natural Dyes and an Indigo Vat: Just About The Best Workshop I have Ever Taken!

The workshop venue at the Shaw Island Community Center

Where to begin this post? I have thought of ways to present this work shop post in one or two installments but it seems that it might be best to just go day by day. In August 2008 I put down a $50. deposit for a workshop through our local textile guild. Earlier this year I requested the vacation days that I would need to be able to attend this workshop. Next I had to figure out how to pay for the balance. Little did I know that the amount that I was paying the balance for this work shop was really a truly amazing bargain! This 4 day workshop was probably one of the best I have ever taken. Intense, mind-bending, time consuming, fascinating, exhilarating & utterly exhausting. It has reignited my desire to create design on cloth. I had spent much time dyeing & learning to create patterns on fabrics with my friend Sarah Smith before she up and moved to Maine, but since she left I have not felt the drive to dye that much - with a few notable exceptions over these intervening years. Ah! but now I feel the need to roll,push,stitch,distort & pattern textiles again!! Thank you Joan Morris for just the push I needed!

Joan Morris is a master dyer of the highest order & she has worked for Dartmouth College for more than 20 years. Most recently, I gather ,she has been designing costumes & backgrounds for "Lion King" (the play). One of the things that I liked the most about Joan as a teacher is that she is able to focus in on the student - and demonstrates care and concern for everyone's learning level.
This is where we did our mordanting & dyeing.
It's the back of the Community Center. You can see the tables set up on the left -
which was soon filled with pots of gorgeous colors bubbling away!

So - onto the workshop. At last I was able to take a workshop close to home! The venue was on Shaw Island so my friend Janet & I were able to commute by ferry each day. We left on an 8:25 ferry; arrived at 9:30 & then left on a 4:10 ferry - and back to our homes at 5:30. There were class-mates from all of our local islands but most had elected to take up a guild members offer to stay in her 'bunk' house. Janet & I missed some slide shows as well as a bit of technique by going home every day. Class time, it seemed , went on somewhat both before & after our arrival & departure. It was wonderful though to be able to sit on the ferry & discuss the class & to be able to lay our tired heads down on our own pillows at night. I am so grateful for Janet - both she & I have much the same needs for "down time" & we travel well together! Nothing like a good friend to shar experiences with!

Below: This is the beautiful view directly across from the dyeing area

The description of this workshop is learning to create Shibori patterns using natural dyes & mordants. Let me say this - natural dyes are totally awesome & offer colors that are probably some of my favorites - but using natural dyes is very time consuming. That, in itself, would not be that bad but the Shibori techniques also called for a lot of intensive hand sewing and were also time consuming. By the end of each day I was mentally depleted and longing for the comfort of sleep. I could not continue to sew when I got home & so I decided early on that I would absorb as much as I could, make some small 'test pieces & not worry about making anything that I wanted to keep or, necessarily, use. I now want to take some time to make pieces that I will, hopefully, want to keep & share. There was simply no way that I would be able to keep up with everything that was covered. This class is worth every penny of the fee - and I certainly can't say that about every class I have taken!

The class room space - it has a full kitchen to the right
Having lunch outdoors
One of the books that Joan recommends. Of course I ordered it right away!

There were some awesome books to look at - many available used. Although my library already groans under the weight of my many books, I had to add several of the books that I looked through during the class. Following are the titles that I am adding to my library - not all of these are books that Joan says she uses - but I found them the most helpful with reagrds to techniques: "Shibori For Textile Artists" by Janice Gunner; "Handbook of Indigo Dyeing" by Vivien Prideux; and an incredible beautiful book that covers the amazing history of Shibori "Memory On Cloth" by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada. All of these titles are available new or used through Amazon or through your local, (support them!) book shop.
On the first day of class we spent quite a bit of time looking at some of the utterly amazing examples of Shibori techniques. As we went along Joan would do demos of the techniques & we were to make our own examples. We were treated to seeing lots of her own creations of course, but also some amazing examples of vintage Shibori cloth. The piece in the photo above is a vintage example of indigo Shibori - isn't is totally mesmerizing?!
Above & below are two more examples of techniques we would be learning

Vintage glory!
The lighting was not the best and I was dodging for a clear view- so apologies for the relatively poor photographs that will follow.
The piece in the photo above is one of my favorites. It reminds me of ancient sea creatures or something. The techniques used are amazing!
Can you imagine creating this vintage cloth?! I am not sure that I can. Each dot is a separately wrapped piece of the cloth. Mind blowing !
Name that dye! Madder & Fustic? Which came first?!
By the end of the first day Janet & I knew that we would be experiencing frustrating, exhaustion, & that we would be learning an awful lot to cram into 4 days. WoW! What an experience we were embarking upon!


Stacy said...

ok... sea creatures? I thought they were dentures! LOL! kidding aside; Sounds like a great class!!!

Vicki W said...

I am pea green with envy! I can't wait to see what you produced.

Sandy said...

It sounds like an amazing workshop. The venue looks lovely.

Jacq said...

WOW, this looks like it was an amazing workshop. I'm looking forward to seeing all the things you will be creating.

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