Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pushing My Limits, Again.

So, I just spent the last three days in an intensive workshop on natural fiber surface design. I somehow manage to find these opportunities to push myself to my limits. It is always worth it as I then integrate what I learned into my life. After all, that is what growing (and living) is all about, isn't it?

So, I walked in to this workshop with amazingly little knowledge or experience of the whole field of dyeing and general surface design. I have known for a year or two that I needed to learn more, deepen my understanding, and create a stronger base for my art. I received an email about this class a number of months ago - the dates and subject matter sounded right and it was only 20 minutes from my home so I signed up.

Michelle relaxing for a moment
As a result, I had the opportunity to study with Michelle Wipplinger in a class called "Painting and Printing on Cloth: Mark Making the Natural Way." Michelle owns Earthues in Seattle, WA and has been involved in the field of natural fiber dyeing for the past 40 years, traveling extensively internationally to learn and collaborate.

It was clear to me as people introduced themselves at the start of the class that I was in way over my head, surrounded by design professionals, some of whom had traveled up from NYC to study with Michelle. But, it was great. My head was spinning by the end of day two but everyone was friendly and supportive of the few of us who were really 'beginners.' I absolutely loved it!

And, wow, did I learn!

Michelle brought a host of examples of cloth dyed with natural dyes and pigments.
Silks dyed with natural dyes

dyed silks then painted with pigments
We began with some simple painting with natural dyes and then progressed through working with pigments, indigo dyeing, and an assortment of techniques that we as participants wished to explore.

Our group at work
 Our backgrounds and interests were so varied that we all just naturally plunged in and went off in different directions, at different rates of speed. Michelle managed to be everywhere at once, answering questions, offering suggestions, making sure that we all were getting what we wanted from her class.

The drying racks, filled with our efforts, were fascinating to look over.

It was absolutely wonderful! Next post, I will share some of my own efforts.


  1. Glad you enjoyed the workshop...I find these processes add so much to quiltmaking on so many levels (personally speaking!).

  2. What a great class! I wish something like this could be offered in the coastal Carolinas. This is my first visit to your blog and I like all that I see.
    Hugs from Mary

  3. Thanks, Linda and Mary. I am gradually posting some more of what I did in the workshop....and, planning what I am going to do next!