Which came first: Patterns in Nature or Shibori?

One of my students recently remarked that I “see shibori everywhere”. It’s true – look at the animals, plants and landscapes that resemble shibori-dyed patterns on fabric. Which inspired which? Clearly there were patterns in nature before humans felt inspired to represent them, but creating unpredictable pattern on cloth by shaped-resist methods frequently reveals to me a relationship with natural phenomena I had never thought about before.

Lionfish
Loon
Sailfish
Zebra
Spider web
Crane fly wing
Palm
Wood grain

 

Chromosomes
Snowflake obsidian
Cloudy sky
Sunlight on water
Snowflake
Iceberg
Dunes

 

 

Fiber Artistry at MAC Gallery

Portland Handweavers Guild

Group Show: Fiber Artistry

June 2 – July 3, 2017

Multnomah Arts Center Gallery

Portland, OR

Friday evening, June 2, 2017, was the opening reception of the PHG Group Show, Fiber Artistry at the Multnomah Arts Center Gallery in Multnomah Village. The well-attended reception opened the exhibit, which features the work of approximately 30 Portland-area weavers and fiber artists. The work spans the gamut from functional items such as scarves, jackets, rugs and table linens to wall hangings and sculptural items. Professional and emerging artists, as well as seasoned hobby weavers, have a chance to show off their work in a beautiful neighborhood gallery, in an exhibit artfully hung by dedicated guild volunteers. Many works are offered for sale; don’t miss it!

Below are just a few of the works in the show…

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Diane’s textured landscape.
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Francisco’s graphic black and white rug.
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Robin’s shimmering jacket of many colors.
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Judith’s scarf of colorful squares.
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Pam’s tapestry wall hanging.
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Bonnie’s winding river scarf.
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Debbie’s wheat stalk wall hanging.
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Rep weave by Rosalie.
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Franklin’s black and white runner.
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Black and white scarves by Kim and Teresa.
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Betty’s purple scarf and Rosalie’s thread sculpture.
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Scarves by Kathleen; shawl by yours truly.

 


 

2-Day workshop July 29-30, 2017 on the Oregon coast: Pattern on Cloth with Shibori and Indigo

Coming this summer: a 2-day weekend workshop on Shibori techniques and dyeing in an organic indigo vat. Please join me the weekend of July 29-30, 2017 at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the beautiful Oregon coast. On Day 1 we will view an inspirational slideshow, then build the natural indigo vat and practice a variety of resist techniques on fabric samples. On Day 2 we will dye the samples in indigo, then complete a cotton or rayon scarf to take home. Bring up to 8 ounces of your own fiber to resist-dye, if desired.

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Amazon Women wore wool felt – did they also wear sprang?

I recently finished reading The Amazons, by Adrienne Mayor. What we know of Amazon women comes from Greek vase paintings and Herodotus, the Greek historian. The Amazons were probably Scythian warrior women, part of a society of Eurasian steppe nomads who herded horses, cattle and sheep. Their clothing consisted of coats, long tunics and trousers for horseback riding, and they wore tall felted wool caps with ear flaps. Both men and women wore garments of similar style, and fragments of woven clothing have been excavated from some prehistoric burial mounds, known as kurgans.

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An Amazon warrior woman depicted in felted cap, long sleeves and leggings. The front and back of her costume appear to be made in two techniques. Possibly sewn together?
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An Amazon archer wearing a diamond-pattern costume, left. A modern reconstruction of the same textile, right.

Greek vase paintings also show Amazon women wearing close-fitting, highly patterned clothing designs on sleeves and leggings. In the vase paintings, only foreigners wear these designs, not Greek women. However, Greek women are depicted holding frame looms, on which they may have been weaving sprang, a type of textile construction that is stretchy, like knitting, but is woven with warp threads only. Think Mexican hammock.

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An Amazon depicted in cap, tunic and leggings, left. A modern reconstruction, middle and right. The right-most picture shows how the textile stretches.
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Ancient Greek women holding frame looms, working textiles that look like sprang.

Dagmar Drinkler, a textile historian who has written about tight-fitting clothing in antiquity, has reconstructed in sprang some of the clothing patterns depicted on Greek vase paintings. While these sprang garments have not yet been found in excavated burial mounds, the reconstructions are startlingly similar to those in the vase paintings. Is it possible that the sheep-herding, wool felt-wearing nomads were knowledgeable of sprang technique as well?

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A modern reconstruction of sprang leggings – tight and stretchy.
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An Amazon depicted on a Greek vase, left. A modern reconstruction of her costume in sprang, right.
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Amazon depicted in close-fitting striped costume, left. A modern version of the textile in sprang, right.

 


 

Shibori, Ikat and Sustainability

the 10th International Shibori Symposium

Oaxaca, Mexico

Last November, I had the good fortune to attend the 10th International Shibori Symposium, held in Oaxaca. Three hundred or so participants came from all over the world to gather and talk about tie-dye and related matters. There were exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops, talks, studio tours and assorted opportunities to meet world-renown textile artists, teachers and scholars. After a week of immersion in everything textile, on my way home I felt like excess information was leaking out my ears. Many thanks to the Portland Handweavers Guild for the study grant which helped me get there!

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Shibori Symposium opening remarks in the San Pablo Cultural Center.

November is a great time to visit Oaxaca, when the tourist load is somewhat lighter, but the weather is comfortably warm during the days and nights are comfortably cool. A lot like late summer is here in the Pacific Northwest. The food was fantastic; I never had a bad meal. Not everyone speaks English, but the locals appreciate when you try to communicate in your rudimentary Spanish, augmented by signing and gestures.

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The zocalo, or central plaza, is busy night and day with people dining, vending, or simply people-watching.
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Every bar serves a dish of fried peanuts and lime with your drinks.

My hotel was two blocks from the zócalo with its restaurants, cafés and nightlife, and directly across from the Museo Textil and neighboring San Pablo Cultural Center, where a lot of the symposium activities took place. I loved being centrally located, within a few minutes’ walk from restaurants, shops, markets and local sights.

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The Bandhani Flags installation over the courtyard of the Museo Textil.

Highlights of the week included the exhibits in the Museo Textil, the Ethnobotanical Garden, trips to CASA (Centro de las Artes de San Agustín), the studio of the Chávez Santiago Family of weavers in Teotitlán del Valle and Tlapanochestli, a cochineal farm. There were other tours I did not have time for on this trip, but would love to take another time. Check out all the cultural tour offerings of Traditions Mexico. Oaxaca and nearby communities are a textile destination!

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The Sierra Madre looming over the Ethnobotanical Garden.
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Federico (Fe) Chavez and son Omar in their weaving studio in Teotitlan del Valle.
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At Tlapanochestli, a cochineal farm outside Oaxaca, visitors view a film, walk through an exhibit, learn about the “infested” nopal paddles, and purchase packets of the red dyestuff. They also have classroom spaces for dye workshops.
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The Sunday market at Tlacolula. My camera can capture images and even sound, but I wish some device could record the SMELLS! Here are flowers, fruits and herbs – an overpowering scent.
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November 20 is Mexican Revolution day. Parades, music, costumes and the cutest little revolutionaries!