Textile Ventures in Dreamy Iceland

For the month of October I have been living in a small Icelandic town named Blönduós. This coastal town is home to eight-hundred Icelanders who farm sheep, fish and run the towns daily activities. Like many towns and villages around Iceland, Blönduós did not emerge as a village until the late 19th century. Today this town is a popular tourist stop for road trippers driving along the country's ring road. 

Blönduós is home to the Icelandic Textile Center and Museum, here I took part in an artist residency. The center aims to promote and develop Icelandic and international textiles by encouraging research and education in the field of textile art and design. The residency provides visiting students, scholars, and artists with working spaces to conduct their artistic practice, research, and study-trips within textiles. Textilsetur, is still fairly new and has been running for five years,  it's popularity among textile artists continues to grow. 

During my residency I challenged myself to work on a project that would my push me out of comfort zone... weaving yardage! Previously I had taken weaving courses during my studies under the direction of some amazing mentors. Even so, the only way to improve any skill is repetition... this residency proved to be the ample time to stretch my weaving muscles. Not only did I choose very difficult threads to work with (fine silk and linen), I also had to learn how to work on a traditional Scandinavian loom. Previously I had worked with Jack Looms, this weaving studio only housed Countermarch looms. Working on a beautiful old loom old loom was all part of the experience, I adjusted pretty quickly. At the end of the month I walked away with some decent handwoven cloth, and even had the chance to try my hand dying yarns with local mushrooms.

Besides the remarkable old looms, the textile center is filled with amazing women that have a strong presence in the residency and their community. One of these women, Jóhanna Pálmadóttir, the Director/Project manager of the center was raised in Blönduós and took over her families' sheep farm after studying textiles in Denmark.  Jóhanna is passionate about sheep, her country and it's history. Currently, she is heading an amazing tapestry project inspired by the Vatnsdæla saga. The forty-six meter tapestry continues to be embroidered by guests and artists. The goal of the project is to revive the Vatnsdæla saga in a modern way, while using the old traditions of handcraft. You can find out more about the tapestry and textile residency here: http://textilsetur.com/latest/ 

Upon my return to Calgary I am looking very forward to instructing a three-day natural dye workshop through Natalie's studio. In this workshop, we will explore how to create a natural indigo vat (blue), learn techniques to carefully extract madder (red), and work with the historic Osage plant (yellow). I will be bringing some beautiful Icelandic wool skeins for the occasion. Check out the "workshop" page above for more info, hope to see you there!

-Caroline-
 

IMG_1218.JPG
IMG_1219.JPG
IMG_0313.JPG
IMG_1897-edit.jpg
IMG_1905.JPG
IMG_1879-edit.jpg
IMG_1859-edit.jpg
IMG_1964-edit.jpg

CHROMATIC GEOGRAPHY: NATURAL DYES IN THE 21ST CENTURY

OPENING RECEPTION, THURSDAY, JUNE 8, 6 – 9 PM
PANEL DISCUSSION, FRIDAY, JUNE 9, 5 - 6 PM
CRAFT ONTARIO GALLERY
1106 QUEEN ST. W., TORONTO
SHOW CLOSES AUGUST 26th


For the majority of human history, all colour used by designers, artists and craftsmen has been obtained from natural sources. Dyes were solely derived from plants, insects and minerals, with many that were difficult to source and process, making them highly prized commodities. After a glory period for natural dyes during the early industrial revolution, which produced beautifully coloured and patterned textiles, the advent of synthetic dyes in the mid-19th century caused natural dyes to fall into disuse.

Today, interest in natural dyes is undergoing a global revival, fueled by a growing awareness of the harmful by-products of the industrial dye process, and a greater understanding of the environmental issues relating to textile production. A new generation of environmentally conscious artists and designers are exploring the use of natural dyes while re-examining regional production, often within the context of a “DIY” approach to life and work. Bioregionalism as an expression of a sense of place and cultural origin is a dominant theme, and is exemplified by the use of local dyes and traditional techniques. The rise of the local is also motivated by a desire to revive post-industrial economies and local, small-scale industries such as dyestuff and fibre cultivation. Moreover, science and innovation in commercial applications of natural colour belie dismissive misconceptions about larger-scale applications.

Chromatic Geography examines these new trends, and presents a diversity of approaches to the use of natural dyes, from scientific research and raw material development, to innovative, contemporary applications in craft, fashion, design and art, with personal approaches to materials and aesthetics.

Laura Sansone will join us for the opening reception from New York with her Mobile Textile Lab, demonstrating how to extract natural dye colour from plants. These dye solutions will then become part of the Chromatic Geography exhibition, providing a solar dye system in the front window of the gallery for the duration of the exhibition.  As well, a member of Upper Canada Fibreshed will be in the gallery demonstrating hand spinning, using Ontario-grown fleece dyed with natural dyes.

I am so overjoyed and honored to be apart of this fantastic show. A big thanks to Thea Haines and Rachel MacHenry for curating and organizing this show.  And of course a big thank you to Craft Ontario for allowing the time and space to have all this important work and conversation unfold. 

Here are some images of my work from the show. 
Thanks, Christa Guila for taking these great shots! 
 

_MG_9084-web.jpg
_MG_9091-web.jpg

Peters Valley School of Craft

Hello! I've had this website for a while now but haven't spent time posting on my blog. So here we go!  I promise that I will make more blog posts about my adventures and work! 

Here's a blog post about my artist residency at Peters Valley School of Craft! My residency took place at the beginning of the summer during May and June 2015. Peter's Valley is a unbelievable craft school located in the middle of a National Park in New Jersey by the Delaware Water Gap. I was lucky enough to meet new artists, learn new things all while being surrounded by the beautiful landscape of this northern state.

All in all, Peters Valley is a hidden gem that not enough people know about. So if you are a crafts person or artist in fiber, surface design, fine metals, ceramics, photography, wood working, or fine art this is a place you must visit.  

Check them out here. 
 

Eco Printing with Natural Dyes

Above are process shots of my first batch of eco printed scarves. 

This past November I participated in Hamilton Artist Inc's Craft Mart. These scarves were one of the items I sold at the show. 

Last April I assisted Sheridan College's Textile Studio Technologist Janelle Guthrie with her Alternative Methods of Natural Dying Workshop. In this workshop we focused on rust dying, eco printing and botanical pounding. The results were amazing and as I continue to explore these techniques I keep unwrapping the most beautiful surprises. Eco printing makes stunning surface designs and patterns.  

Working with natural dyes takes a lot of dedication and patience, I've worked with different natural dying techniques for almost a year now and I'm just beginning to get the hang of it. For my final year at Sheridan I have only worked with natural dyes and will continue to use it in my thesis work next term. 

Yesterday I read two great articles about natural dyeing, one from my prof Thea Haines and one from India Flint, I highly recommend both of them.

If you are interested in owning one of these eco printed scarves there are still some left at Hawk and Sparrow on James Street N in Hamilton. 
 

Stay tuned for more post about my natural dyeing explorations!