What a wonderful, creatively fruitful summer it was. I guess I'll start by also saying how truly magical this whole Everlea experience has been from day one. Katie and I seem to be on the same wavelength with everything we encounter together. It has been so much fun! Back in the fall of 2013 when I moved to New York from Montreal with my husband Danny and then baby (now toddler!) Sam, Katie and I alluded to the idea of doing something together, but like Katie mentioned in her post, it didn't really flourish until the end of spring when we finally got our asses in gear and gave ourselves a first project. We knew we'd be in separate places for the summer, since I was to go to Canada for three months, and I think we were thinking that we didn't want to wait that long to start things up. So it was to be a collaboration with a surprise show-and-tell at the end. We chose to each dye a big heap of luscious silk charmeuse. There were no real guidelines as to what colors or patterns we would try to achieve, so it was the perfect way to see if our ideas and aesthetics meld well together.
My part is all about natural dyes, including indigo. The difference this time 'round for me is that I am revisiting thickening and printing with them, and it is a dream! I am very interested in the ideas around and the making of slow textiles. And as I write feel the urge to kind of digress and share about the Tasara Center for Creative Weaving in Naduvattom, India where my friend Marja recently spent a month doing a residency. They find richness in the time it takes to finish a piece and say that the slowness offers strength to both the textiles and the business. It is such a rare sentiment to find anywhere in the world today. In this article about them they say, " ‘Small’ is a big word here. Growing in terms of quantity is not the focus. It is about doing things with dignity. Everything you do is part of your personality,” ... “Slow production is the weak point of handloom, but it has to be converted into our strength..."
All textile hand-work takes time. It's that lack of urgency that gives me an extra push to be in the present moment, and draws me to continue making.
Above and below are a few of the yardages I lovingly made this summer - approximately two yards each. The first (above) is stenciled indigo which I first dyed with walnut. Then I soy sized it by painting it with hand-made soy milk, and finally stenciled it with a thickened indigo solution . The stencils are made from tracings of cross-sections of rock that were cast offs from my dad's masonry business. I saw them and said, "don't mind if I do!"
This piece (above) is made with similar techniques, but the fabric was also mordanted before I applied the soy sizing. Soy sizing is interesting because it gives the prepared fabric a time limit as to how long it will behave in a way which allows dyes to adhere. After a certain amount of time it cures the fabric, which does the opposite - making the fabric unresponsive to dyeing. So there is a bit of an art to it.
And this one might be my favorite. I'm a sucker for the simple pieces - especially if indigo in involved. I think you can't go wrong with blue on blue on blue (on blue...). My indigo vat was especially happy this summer, so I got these awesome rich hues with only one or two dips. This one was dyed using itajime shibori resist.
I have one more yardage that is rusted, but it is unfinished and not photographed, so it will have to wait for a future post. Are any of you out there doing natural dye printing? I'd love to hear about your victories or challenges with it.
Janna Maria Vallee