May 1, 2015

The photos don’t do these pieces justice – the nature of things. However that is, these below and many more, reflect simplicity and sophistication.

bold, strong patterns

bold, strong patterns

It wasn’t completely about the indigo, but about technique and the engineering behind pattern making – what could be done by hand with the aid of a tool.

amazing consistency ....

amazing consistency ….

I never cease to be amazed at the invention that takes place. There is without a doubt always a new approach.

These were just a very small sample of class results that took place at the museum last weekend.  You’ll find more images here. Needless to say, this is one very content sensei.

in the dirt

April 23, 2015

Lots of scratching in the dirt, digging deep holes, transplanting and planting seeds.

raised beds! finally!

raised beds! finally!

This is just a beginning.

Polygonum tinctorium seedlings

Polygonum tinctorium seedlings

They’ve grown a wee bit since the last entry.

"scum" on the vat's surface

“scum” on the vat’s surface

Keeping my eye on the vat, always as it hasn’t had much activity lately.  The days are warming up though and there’s promise.

potential for blue

April 16, 2015

I won’t mention it (rehtaew eht). I know I’m always talking about it, but I’m so dependent on what “it” does. It can’t be helped.

Woad flower

Woad flower

One of the many blossoms opening this week – woad. It grew from seed (Milkweed seed).   I thought it would never take off last year.  Yet, here is one result after this winter’s ice and snow. This is the best of the bunch, so it looks like chances are good for an abundant seed harvest (I hope).

I see lots of potential here.

I see lots of potential here.

It’s past the time for harvesting the leaves – should have done that last year. My plants were so small. It’s a biennial, giving good leaves one year (for the dye), flowers and seeds the next. I’m learning.

first indigo sprouts of the season

first indigo sprouts of the season

On the other hand, new indigo sprouts – just this week. They’ll need to mature a bit before transplanting into a new bed.

Consider this entry a little sprout – sometimes it’s difficult to articulate the words, in a sensible manner, for all of the life that goes around.  This is a little something, but one of the many that makes the day, the week or the season…well worth the living.

Outdoors – it’s the season

April 9, 2015

It’s probably a good thing I document the days in some fashion. Otherwise, I might forget and think I did nothing.

cotton tunics deeply dipped in that only blue

cotton tunics deeply dipped in that only blue

Actually, the days have been full, with dye work, dipping between the raindrops. Fortunately, it has been more sun than drops, until today. It could be next week before this order is complete.

the fat woad that will oon give me an abundance of seeds

the fat woad that will soon give an abundance of seeds

Dye work leads me into my yard, where I seek out new blooms, sprouts and other related discoveries. The weeds are in abundance, the rabbits are already showing interest in some of my new plants and the familiar nest is back on the same shelf in the garage. So far, no inhabitants, but the nest may still be in progress.

on a shelf in my garage among bottles & boxes of dye supplies - made of pine needles, crape myrtle seeds & old leaves - the birds "fussed" at me the other day while I worked at the vat.  Was I intruding?

on a shelf in my garage among bottles & boxes of dye supplies – made of pine needles, crape myrtle seeds & old leaves – the birds “fussed” at me the other day while I worked at the vat. Was I intruding?

I’m raking leaves and old pine needles, weeding, planning beds, starting seeds and adding a few new perennials for added color and  attracting butterflies – just getting started.

Mixed in is continued planning and preparations for upcoming workshops this spring and summer. Then, there are personal explorations, some are serendipitous, responding to the seasons,  and then others are more involved – questions to be resolved, a theme or story…and this is the season.

aspects of the floral

April 2, 2015

I’m sure Art in Bloom has had an influence and I’m sure there will be more responses to it. Aspects of the floral were already on my mind though, as I’ve been keeping an eye on those first spring blooms in the garden.

So, it’s just a natural response to the season.

Along that line, I’m exploring some vintage patterns with similar imagery – something I’ve been wanting to do for some time.

These small “samplers” are on old linen napkins that have come to me over the last few years, including some from my mother. They’re disintegrating and stained, but I couldn’t throw them out.

This one is obviously “boro”, quite worn. The shibori and dyeing of it are just a first step. I also wanted to work this one up quickly while my own “sakura” were in bloom.

This bit of heaven is now slowly disappearing – delicately falling and being carried in the breeze. New green leaves are emerging.

花見・Hana mi/Flower viewing

March 25, 2015
closing in on Art in Bloom

closing in on Art in Bloom

The NC Museum of Art opened its doors to 花見・Hana mi/Flower Viewing with Art in Bloom last weekend. It was a grand welcome to spring. Read Dana Watson’s description and photos of the event. You’ll see what I mean.

inspired by Aaron Douglas' Harriett Tubman

inspired by Aaron Douglas’ Harriett Tubman

I spent a part of two days walking through the exhibit. It brought a fresh perspective to the collection, seeing pieces I hadn’t seen or remembered from previous visits. More explorations are in order, I suspect.

Lenten Roses

Lenten Roses

Another place for flower viewing was the NC Governor’s Mansion. I visited there with my sister and friends. The gardens there are just getting started, but their raised beds were an inspiration.

raised beds - Governor's mansion

raised beds – Governor’s mansion

It warmed up just enough this week, making it possible to put some small napkin or hankie sized pieces on the line. These are still in process and look forward to seeing the results.


linen napkins in indigo

There should be some reflection of the season in them.

生きている・It lives

March 19, 2015

Ai wa ikiteiru.
Indigo lives./Indigo is living.

That idea is expressed in so many places, Japanese, in books on websites…. It derives from the fact that there is living bacteria in the vat. So, the vat could be approached or seen as a living being. If it’s living, it also has a spirit, hence, the need for respect, care and maybe a little awe.

where conversations take place

where conversations take place

Why did I write that? It keeps appearing in my readings. Though, the feeling is there when I’m working with it. I can feel the life and its expression. It was very much that way as I struggled to pull color with it this week. Was it sad or just cold? Had I neglected it or was it hungry? We do have our “moments” and all I can surmise is that we’re in seasonal transition and that must have an affect.

Still, enough color was managed for beginning sample work for upcoming spring and summer workshops. I feel the need to walk through what my students will be making, especially my younger ones. So, that process has begun.



Working with those basic techniques, practicing – it never gets old, and there are always questions about the vat, technique and imagery.

The Workshop pages are also in development as more information is updated. Also, as I’ve created a new site, Oriba Shibori, my old site, Susan Fennell Studio will no longer be in service in a few weeks. I’ve already changed out most of my links.

The new season is nearly here and it’s also full of life – so much to be anticipated.

Argentine sage

Argentine sage – first signs – also a deep blue flower.

in a blink

March 12, 2015

In a blink of an eye it feels like spring has arrived. Daffodils are in bloom and my bluebells won’t be far behind. The warm temperatures and sun have made it possible to complete a dye job that has lingered since last month.

enjoying their shape & color

enjoying their shape & color

Daphne survived the ice and cold temps.

Daphne survived the ice and cold temps.

I enjoy each one that comes along, but it seems there was more variation in the fibers in this particular order. There was a tunic in an airy silk/cotton blend, another feather light silk tunic (with ruffles and ties), and a soft rayon top. They took the dye beautifully and had no trouble achieving the depth of blue that was requested. There were more and they were just as delicious.

silk tunic

silk tunic

Each piece had an unexpected richness, it seems. It simply continues to reaffirm the wonder of the dye, its color and the challenges it presents.

over dyed embroidery on a cotton blouse

over dyed embroidery on a cotton blouse

It was a pleasure to finally mail the box of goods off to my customer this morning. I suppose it marks the end of winter work. Now, on to spring. It calls.

There are workshops afoot, continued planning and preparation for the upcoming seasons. There is much to look forward to. I find though, that those spaces between events are equally important – one needs time for stillness, quiet, making it possible for exploration, invention…or maybe just dipping.

fixed on the weather

March 5, 2015

I admit, I’m fixed on the weather – the temps and whatever else it brings. It has a large affect on how my days go, particularly when dyeing is involved. That’s the situation today.



It’s been over a week though, since my foray to Florida to join some of my far-flung siblings and cousins for an auspicious family event. My mother turned 90, so we celebrated – had a grand time.

The ice was heavy on tree limbs

The ice was heavy on tree limbs

On my return though, I was greeted with another snow/ice storm which took out our power for most of a day. We’ve had worse, but it was still a reminder that we are not well prepared for these things in our area.

snow on sweetgum tree

snow on Sweetgum tree

Still I don’t like to miss the opportunity of catching nature when it brings us to a stand-still.

yesterday, in the 70s

yesterday, in the 70s

Yesterday, though, an abrupt change, a spike to 75 °, a chance to catch up on some work.  But today….rain with a good chance of sleet and ice. Nature and the weather….

By the way, my workshops page has been updated – that April workshop at the museum…well, ready for your consideration. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask.


Did we inspire…?

February 18, 2015

To pick up from my last entry…did we inspire her or what just happened? In truth, we know and we received our authentic taste of the season.

Gethin has discovered a new landscape.

Gethin has discovered a new landscape. He asked to go out & play in it many times during the day.

Everything was ice covered yesterday bringing our world to a stand-still. It also brought quiet, discovery and inspiration.

雪花 (yukibana) - snowflower came to mind, or maybe ice flower.

雪花 (yukibana) – snowflower comes to mind, or maybe ice flower.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 197 other followers

%d bloggers like this: