A couple of weeks ago, I packed up my indigo and shibori bag of tricks and headed east to Colorado for a wonderful weekend of creating at Sew Makerie - a new addition to the annual Makerie Retreat that happens every year at the historical Chautauqua in Boulder. The Chautauqua, built in 1898, is the only Chautauqua west of the Mississippi River still continuing in unbroken operation since the heyday of the Chautauqua Movement in the 1920s.
Ali, the organizer and master planner of The Makerie asked if I would teach a shibori and natural dye workshop. Originally I thought it would be fun to experiment with cochineal, fusticwood and rosemary...but once I realized we would be dyeing in the tent outside, I settled on cold water indigo vats. We began learning a bit about the history of indigo, both around the world and right here in our own backyard...the plant was introduced to South Carolina in 1839 and widely used to color all of our natural fibers.
After we had twisted, clamped, tied and sewed all sorts of shapes and lines to create a resist, we placed the fabrics into the dye vats that had been made up earlier in the morning. Everyone loved seeing their fibers turn from murky green to brilliant blue in a matter of seconds once the air oxidized the fabric.
Here is an indigo scarf I made using the nui stitched shibori technique - with over 48 wave lines - and then dipped in the indigo vats three times for a very deep blue color. I worked on this for weeks while watching Sofia swim at her swim meets - I think I thoroughly embarrassed her!
Here is a sample from Liesl Gibson's Smocked Necklace Workshop - she first ombre dipped the cloth into the indigo vat and then stitched it together - the result was truly beautiful!
If you get the chance to attend a Makerie Retreat...don't hesitate! The weekend was not only relaxing but so inspiring and living in an old cabin was the icing on the cake! For more information and to see when the next event is read more here.