Nature’s Resilience — Illuminating the Cycles & Processes that Clothe Us
The arc of texture and color for our regional land base is expressed in our plant-based dyes, color grown cottons, and variegated animal fibers that are produced from a diversity of plant and animal species. Natural forms and colors are dependent upon interactive ecological processes and human engagement with these systems.
The 2017 Wool & Fine Fiber Symposium provided education to the general public about how current textile systems are impacting our health, water, carbon and genetic life and how the replication of decentralized, regional, transparent, and regeneratively produced Fibershed soil-to-skin value chains are a direct alternative to existing industrial models and the havoc these systems have imparted on our personal and global ecology.
Busy hands and happy hearts filled the old barn and workshop at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, an 80-acre research, demonstration, education, advocacy and community-organizing center in West Sonoma County, California. That is developing strategies for regional-scale community resilience and the restoration of biological and cultural diversity.
We shared in the ancient art of indigo dyeing using an organic vat in which we dyed multiple fabrics and pieces of cloth together. Like communities all over the world we took turns tying and dipping our hands into the True Blue dye and one by one took our pieces out of the vat and revealed them in wonder. Sharing in the awe of creation and inspired by each other to learn and share more about this precious natural pigment.
Medicinal Threads had the honor of attending and contributing a runway look on September 23, 2017 at the beautiful Big Mesa Farmstead in Bolinas, California. The west coast Fibershed community showcased the explorations, developments, and garments that transform our clothing into a means of building soil and reversing climate change. The Climate Beneficial Fashion Gala presented a runway of climate beneficial fashions along with a generous spread of farm-to-table foods and distilled beverages sourced from local farmers and ranchers, as well as a silent auction and marketplace of artisanal and bespoke goods made by Northern California designers.
Indigo hands and hearts filled a two week long immersion in Southern Oregon at the the 5th Annual Spirit Weavers Gathering : A Embrace of the Feminine and Ancestral Ways
I was pleased to offer a class on how to create your own indigo at home inspired by the traditional vats of Morocco & India. We dove into the magical and ancient realm of a True Indigo and together we shared in the alchemy of applying color to cloth.
Lisa Wilde @lisawildeworks has been practicing the art of shibori for the past 8 years. She has created countless unique textiles and crafts using the ancient Japanese art form. She is also a Waldorf hand craft teacher and continues to share her lessons with natural dyes to
children and adults within her community.
"Shibori is the Japanese word for a variety of ways of embellishing textiles by shaping cloth and securing it before dyeing. The word comes from the verb root shiboru, "to wring, squeeze, press."
The tradition of shibori dates back thousands of years to
pre-Columbian Peru alpaca and Chinese silk found in 4th century tombs.
Lisa explained several different techniques including kuma (spider design) arashi (storm)
& mokume (wood grain) ~ each one as unique and one of a kind as the next! We practiced
both suji or hand binding to create vertically striped patterns and nui which uses a
running stitch to gather the cloth. We dyed in both Osage orange and Indigo blue which is
the traditional color of shibori. There are endless ways to create a wide variety of
designs by repeating the simple process of pleat, bind and dye.
Sign up for the Medicinal Threads newsletter to stay connected and learn more about upcoming workshops. You can also find more of Lisa's creations on instagram @lisawildeworks
Over the span of two days we dove into the magical world of the ancient dye Indigo along with Rachel from Running River Organics. The class was such an incredible learning experience for everyone involved! Did you know True Indigo is a legume and has been naturalized to tropical and temperate Asia as well as Africa? Also its native habitat is unknown since it has been in cultivation worldwide for centuries!
Photos by Kisa Hues
Indigo is a shrub and may be a annual, biennial or perennial depending on the climate it is grown. It has light great pinnate leaves and pink flowers. The dye is obtained from the processing of the leaves. They are soaked in water and fermented in order to convert the plant to the blue dye. Making a indigo vat is not as difficult as it my seem. The recipe that Rachel uses is based off of Michel Garcia's 1-2-3 Vat which relies on a mineral alkali and a natural reducing agent. A process knows as "reduction" removes excess oxygen liberating the dye molecule and
allows it to attach to the fibers and bond.
Stay tuned and sign up for our newsletter to learn more about upcoming workshops and other natural dye events!