Confident BeginnerA Jack of no Trades
Natasha Presents: You Should Do This!
Happy Friday bb’s!
I know this post is going to cause all the jeals in everyone not in the Lower Mainland, as this is a very #yvr-centric post, sooo sorry that you live in Edmonton where nothing fun happens ever at any time.
JK to all of my Edmonton friends (but also, not jk, cause like it’s fucking Edmonton).
I recently took part in a wonderful event hosted in Vancouver: Indigo Social!
It’s natural, it’s magic, and it’s all about fabric which is basically my life’s tagline so you know I am deeply invested.
The event is hosted by Sophina Kwon, who has been in that #naturaldye life since day 1. She is the daughter of Charllotte Kwon who started Maiwa Handprints in Vancouver over 30 years ago. I have been into their Artist Supply store on Granville Island and it was very difficult leaving without spending my life savings on the amazing fabrics and supplies in the shop.
The event is held in a super hip artist work/loft space in East Vancouver, and the experience was amplified by the candlelit stairwell, spiced tea aroma in the air, and the drapes of beautiful hand-dyed indigo pieces strewn around the work space. There was also a gigantic lovable Saint Bernard just enjoying his best life while 40 women pet him for 4 hours straight.
The workshop began with the history of Indigofera Tinctoria, the plant used in the Maiwa indigo dye. She followed with the process of soaking, drying out the indigo plant, and harvesting the dye for use as well as a brief introduction to all of the variations of shape resist dyeing in different cultures. When I saw Indigo dye, I immediately thought of the Japanese art of Shibori, however so many different cultures use unique approaches to shape resist dyeing. We went over a bunch of different techniques to create patterns and textures in the fabric and then we were sent off to manipulate our 2 meters of organic cotton.
Great minds think alike: without discussion my mother and I both created similar patterns with our fabric. Using soy beans and rubber bands, I bound little the beans to create circular patterns of blue and white throughout my piece. I then ‘consciously gathered’ and bound the ends of my fabric to create a random cloud like pattern. It looked like an evil tentacled monster prior to sending it to it’s dye bath, which is almost half the fun!
It is actually a bit of a nerve-racking process because you know what you want it to look like, but heck if you can determine the fate of your fabric. After you have manhandled your fabric into the design you think you want, it’s off to the vats.
When Shibori was so vogue a few years ago, I took a class which used synthetic dyes. However, let me tell you: natural dyes are SO! MUCH! COOLER! The mixture of dye, lye, and colouring agent start off as a yellow-green colour and once you pull out your dyed fabric you see the colour change before your freaking eyes! She said oxidization is the key to the deep indigo colour, but I am not truly convinced that is not just pure ✨magic✨.
The event was super fun, so hip, and I totally recommend it. However, if you do live in places like deadmonton, you can also order Indigo Kits from the Maiwa Shop online. How cool is that?! They also have some pretty cool PDF’s about natural dyes which I am very excited to read (both of those can be found on this page).
My mom rocked some symmetry with her pieces, achieved by folding the fabric in half prior to manipulating it. She also gathered on the ends of her piece, and did a rolling/scrunching technique on the middle to create the half circles on the center sides.
Don’t be alarmed: our pieces are a very similar colour, but the indoor/outdoor pictures make them look totally different.
I think the ‘conscious gather’ is my favourite technique. It is so simple to accomplish but makes the material look like thunderous clouds or a coastal water line and I can’t get enough!
I would really like to experiment with different dyeing agents and different fabrics for future projects. Eastern Brazilwood creates a coral to deep crimson colour, Lac Extract can create a plum to blackened purple colour, and I’ll do anything for burnt sienna linen realness in my life.
Check it out! Take a class and let’s get dyeing together, friends!