Sunday, May 6, 2012

Natural Women, Natural Fiber Dyeing

Unbelievably beautiful weekend at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden!  I went with my friend Austin, who was birthday gifting me with a class taught by the amazing Rebecca Burgess.  Rebecca teaches about safe sustainable fabric/fiber dyeing with local indigenous plants.  She is as eco-thought provoking and inspiring as she is talented and intelligent.  

We brought our own mordanted fibers - some of my hand spun merino singles - and were thrilled with the variety of colors we got from the six pots of natural dyes.  

Rebecca also showed us a couple of Shibori techniques on silk strips, which created really lovely and unique patterns. 

A big wooden bowl full of Rebecca's color sample yarns.
Rebecca Burgess lecturing as we begin the hands on demos.
Indigenous plants for natural dyeing: Toyon, Coffee Bean Plant, CA Sage, and the funniest of all - Sticky Monkey Flower!
Silk strips, natural wool skeins, and a basket of six varieties of natural cloths: cotton varieties, hemp, and more silk.
A copper pot filled with 180 degree water and Coreopsis (related to the Sunflower) which will yield bright orange fabrics/fibers.
And what could be more natural than drying your fibers and fabrics after their dye bath on the hedges?
Another technique Rebecca shared is the pounding method to extract colors from flowers that would not work in a dye bath process.
This method doesn't create a saturated dye effect, but has infinite design possibilities!

If you ever get the chance to take Rebecca's workshop do not hesitate!  The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden sold out this workshop before they even got a chance to put it online for their members!  They are scheduling another one in July, so if you're interested this one will fill up fast:

And, if you can't make it to this class, treat yourself to Rebecca's amazing book "Harvesting Color":

You should also check out her FiberShed project.  This is someone who is allied with other artists to truly shift the paradigm of consumption in our cultural.

Well, I'm off to create some crazy batts with my commercially processed fibers - because I want to use them up and start over with all natural colors!  I am so deeply inspired by Rebecca...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Kentucky Derby Fascinator Class

Last Saturday, 1pm at The French Room in Atwater Village, Los Angeles...

Yes, it was magic.  We had three lovely and super creative students, and one of our favorite LA milliners - Lee Duncan - also came by to inspire us!  Austin Gray conducted the class, while Jessica Miller and I assisted.  (Jessica also took all these beautiful photos, and I made the Mint Juleps...)

A small demo of the possibilities...
Fascinating fascinators waiting to be embellished!
What's millinery without a lady-like Mint Julep?
Austin teaching the essentials of creating your own fascinator.
Kelly was the first to finish her fabulous fascinator!
Our teacher Austin also joined in making her own fascinator.
Student Tina created something spectacular for her niece.
And Amy made a winged creation to wear to a ball!
 What an incredible afternoon for The French Room.  We can't thank our students enough for joining us in creating amazing fascinators and truly inspiring us!

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