Over the spring we ran a series of workshops introducing surface design through a variety of techniques from screen, block and eco printing to natural dyeing and improv quilting.  Along with Cheryl Arkison, Charis Birchall and Caroline Forde I had the pleasure of getting over forty participants excited about manipulating the surface of fabric.

I would head over to the studio every second Thursday evening to either teach or host the workshops with one of these accomplished and talented women. I was overwhelmed by the incredible outcomes every time and can’t wait for the next round that will be starting in June.

We still have a few workshops this month before wrapping up the session but I couldn’t wait to share some of the work. We explored the natural indigo vat, eco printing, natural dyeing and shibori, a Japanese resist dyeing technique with Caroline Forde.  While I was exposed to natural dye during my years at the Alberta College of Art & Design I still get so excited by the vibrant and varied colours you get from mother nature. 

My love for the process of indigo dyeing has been rekindled.  I was reminded how natural dyeing encourages you to slow down in the studio. With every dip into indigo your fabric has a wait time in the vat and then again out of the vat while it oxidizes. Your reward is the varied shades of blue you can achieve.

During this series of workshops I was introduced to eco printing for the first time. This process produces the most beautiful results by simply using various leaves, petals and sometimes even dye stuff placed directly onto the surface of the fabric which is carefully bundled and then heated in a vat. What really appealed to me was the opportunity to create pattern and print, or imprints rather, using plant and natural materials to build up the natural dye colours on the fabric.

It has been far too long since I explored these processes in my own studio practice.  I’m so looking forward to spending the summer months getting reacquainted with them and seeing how this will translate into future work.