Monday, November 7, 2011

Indigo Shibori at Maiwa Symposium

  I 've just returned from my mystery trip! And what an adventure it was! I had two events to attend- The Green Festival in Los Angeles with Living Crafts magazine and then an Indigo Shibori Workshop at Maiwa in Vancouver.
  I don't have any pictures from my time in LA, unfortunately. We did set up a wonderful 20 x 20 foot community craft space, and taught many people how to felt, weave and embroider, all crafts we feature regularly in Living Crafts. It was wonderful to spend more time with Pardis, the editor of the magazine, and fellow contributors, Christine Schreier, and Elizabeth Seward. And of course to share our crafts with some existing readers, and some new ones.      
  What a buzz of excitement to be travelling to teach in California.  The change was exciting....the United States is different from Canada in so many ways. The warmth, sunshine and palm trees were like a balm....
And there were some darker moments...grounding moments....I got lost in LA without a map, and without an address to put into the GPS in the car I was using. Using the "force" to find your way around LA is a very tricky business! I found myself in an a darker side of LA, driving under an underpass, full of garbage and shopping carts and people's homes...brings one down to earth. I had to get out of the car and find a payphone (I don't have a cellphone) and feel extremely out of place, and aware of the value of my life in certain neighbourhoods.  And then, several days later, I found myself walking the length of Hastings Street, in Vancouver's lower east side, arguably the roughest area in the city....and it was like nothing I've ever seen in my life...humbling, unsettling, and terrifying...and invigorating. All this while also exploring and playing with the beauty of natural fibers in both places...such a luxury...I loved the contrast....I treasure these experiences..It was truly a perfect balance in dark and light...or the shadows in between...and the epitome of the travelling experience....
Then, of course there was the fibre play! A wonderful retreat time with Akemi Nakano Cohn in indigo shibori dyeing, part of the Maiwa Symposium. The techniques she shared with us deepened my knowledge of clamp and resist dyeing, and added to my textile toolbox the classic stitch resist patterns of shibori. I learnt that I need to add more indigo when making my baths, to reach the dark deep midnights potential in indigo.  I also learnt that I know more about indigo and shibori than I thought...and this creative confidence booster came at exactlya most needed time.  I left inspired, and I believe to have a student leave full of ideas is a great credit to a teacher! 
I see using these pieces as "canvases"; foundations to be added to or changed through other textile mediums...Fractal building frame, or set of frames for future additions...
 One of my favourites...a canvas waiting for something....ferrous imprinted leaves? stitches? nuno felting? Mmmm....unknown at this moment...still immersed in moon/indigo relationships...
 Traditional Ori Nui Shibori..stitched contemplative in process.....I know I will use the clamp resist techniques more often, but this I will enjoy using for special projects....this process has such a strong meditative quality for me, less physical process than mental, and will be used as such, when desired or required..

Twice resisted and dyed...6 dips total resulting in deep indigo colour. angel/moth/butterfly wings....
Arashi Shibori, wrapped and tied around a pole then folded and dipped. Love this!

 A re-creation of a piece I made during my last full moon indigo dyeing session...moons are clamped CD's....I experimented with some different patterning above them...clothespins and tight binding with string, but got very different results than I expected.  Still a great base for adding more- layers of dyeing maybe?
And my line full of Shibori banners!  The blues a lovely contrast against the greens and yellows of our Fall landscape here.  Most of these pieces are done on quilting weight cotton for sewing...I'm going to cut them and share them....and then dye some more in silk and wool for feltmaking on the coming full moon this Thursday. I enjoyed the setting aside of this time for creativity with such talented fibre artists, both in Los Angeles and again in Vancouver and came away with great new plans and ideas....and the feeling of being grounded in our real world with an appreciation for this beautiful little island and the home our family is creating.
Warm wishes,


  1. Beautiful Fiona! I loved reading your wonderful descriptions of work and place. Be amazing to see where all these pieces end up...happy making : )

  2. You are always full of inspiration thank you! We do lived a blessed life! I know when I went to India I felt how lucky I am and often forget that there are people living just like that in my own backyard. Thanks for the reminder of gratitude and of course great work!

  3. Thank you Mia! I'm looking forward to sharing these with other textile artists and keeping a few for some sewing projects in the new year. Are you game for a textile challenge? :) I'll send you one and you can play!
    Thanks Annie! It feels just as you expressed. I felt I was viewing the "real" world in a way, and that it grounded my own lifestyle in a bigger context. Much much appreciation felt! Warm wishes, Fiona