Posts Tagged ‘Indigo dyeing at Florence Thomas Art School’

Home again

August 21, 2014

Last week I breathed North Carolina mountain air, wore a sweater at night to ward off the chill and watched large moths and fireflies (or were they fairies?) flit about in the early evening from the second floor porch of the inn where I was staying.

I was in West Jefferson and visiting the Florence Thomas Art School where we (Janine LeBlanc & I) taught two workshops. One was three full days of explorations in shibori and “dipping” in the indigo dye vat. The second was a 3 hour introductory session on Saturday.

Both experiences were rewarding and needless to say, a delight. We enjoyed their new location on main street, in Ray’s Hardware. The front display windows were a fun venue for showing off student dye pieces. We did our best to attract the passersby.

We also stayed at the Meadowsweet Gardens Inn, a bed and breakfast with gardens to capture the imagination – certainly mine. I kept thinking of Beatrix Potter while walking through vine covered arches and exploring the perennials. Breakfasts were also a huge plus (fresh biscuits and zucchini bread…), sustaining for the day ahead.


As I’d been missing the butterflies in my home garden, it was reassuring to see an abundance of them exploring Debbie’s Phlox. On my return home, I did see a swallowtail sail through my front yard.


With the completion of these last two workshops, summer teaching is complete. I’m looking forward to an exhibit coming up next month with my Threads group at Meredith College.  A workshop at Pullen Arts Center begins in October as well.

Indigo in the Blue Ridge Mts.

July 19, 2012

Blue Ridge mts.

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

How long has it been since I’ve been in the mountains? I cannot really remember…but as usual, I was reflecting again on that faraway place. It doesn’t really take much, especially in summer.

We (my family) used to take August for a month in the mountains (Japan) nearly every summer (in childhood). We had a small rustic cabin in the woods, on Lake Nojiri. There were cooling breezes, insect song, muddy paths along a rice paddy (somewhere in there), fogs that rolled in on the lake and much, much more. I was looking forward to similar when we went up to Glendale Springs.

It wasn’t quite the same, of course, but evenings were pleasantly cool with thick fog and it rained nearly everyday. I missed the beetles and cicada, although we had some fat bumblebees.

To be able to mix those memories with indigo worked just fine. It was grand, actually.  Many, many thanks to our hosts and fabulous participants.

Red & Yellow Obi

June 26, 2012

6635 A

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Another favorite I encountered at the Gregg was this obi (sash). We didn’t measure it, but it was quite long enough (for wrapping around the body several times, then tying) for wearing with either a kimono or yukata (summer kimono).

What intrigued me about this piece, was that the shibori was obviously done by hand – it was so irregular. There was a common, repeated motif (iris), but there were obvious “burps” or little “mistakes” in there as well. That was the element that held intrigue – it was “imperfect” and still quite usable (acceptable).  It made it all the better, actually.

Another aspect of this very soft, lightweight silk (habotai?) sash was that it seems as though it could have been dyed with benibana (safflower) – at least I thought so from examining some of the white areas that were tinged pink. It’s another topic I hope to touch on later.

I’ve also just talked with the folks at the Florence Thomas Art School (Glendale Springs – Blue Ridge Parkway) and it seems that there is still room for those who are interested in taking an indigo/shibori class in the mountains where it’s cool. Please see the details on my “Upcoming Workshops” page.

summer inspiration

June 11, 2012

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

I hope the image will provide a little spark. The season for workshops is here. Indigo seems to love the summer heat and humidity and July is a perfect time for learning about it (and of course, shibori!).

My youth class at Artspace is fast filling up, but there’s still room in the weekend workshop for adults later in the month. It isn’t too late to sign up.  All information & links are on my “Upcoming Workshops” page.

There’s also the workshop at the Florence Thomas Art School in Glendale Springs, NC. Both Janine LeBlanc (Gregg Museum) and I will be teaching the characteristics of the indigo vat and aspects of shibori there.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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