Posts Tagged ‘silk’


June 5, 2015

I’ve long needed to pull out a box of crayons and just scribble.


I’ve needed to play and yesterday was it. Although, that’s been the goal for this month especially. If I can make it last, then so much the better.


Sometimes, I’m an obsessive planner. It’s probably a hangover from teaching in earlier years. In some ways, it has been a good thing, as it taught discipline and nourished my love of research.


But, I also know the value of “throwing it all out the window” and running out to play – another way to learn.  We know that.


Yesterday, I returned to some materials and ideas that have been running around in my head for more than a year –  long overdue and pure fun.

in progress

March 13, 2014




It took time to wrap each little kumo, so it’s also taking time to carefully unbind each one.

There were a lot of unknowns in the construction of this piece. It was an experiment and still is. As I’ve been loosening the threads, pulling at the shapes and photographing them different things have come to mind – topics in my reading and museum visits all play a part. What that final “product” or image will be though, is still quite unknown at this point.

nature of nature

February 20, 2014

It feels like spring for the moment after the past week’s weather drama. For a few days though, nature was in control, and things took on a quiet timelessness (if you weren’t watching the weather reports). The crisp, white of the silk organza I’ve been working with seemed also to reflect that aspect of the season. Consistent with nature though, things change.



A wreath was in mind; that shape and the concept developed before the winter holidays. I soon realized though, that this was going to involve more time, so things evolved as they do. The bound up forms are not all the same size, but they all fit into that circular form So, eventually when it’s unbound I’m wondering what will happen. I’m not an engineer.

the underside

the underside

My first thought was to leave it white after removing the sericin, but decided ultimately to move it into the blue. Progress on developing the hue value is slow, but it’s teaching me patience, as always.

slow progress

slow progress

Another aspect of the week has been some swatch dyeing – again, watching the value and hue changes in the vat. It’s also slow progress, but today we have mild temperatures, strong breezes and some sun. It should make for a good day before tomorrow’s rain.



that “blew” stuff

February 6, 2014


Needless to say, it was a delightful two sessions at the museum. In many respects we probably just scratched the surface in our discussion of Balfour-Paul’s book, as the topic is so vast. On the other hand, that hands-on encounter with the ‘stuff’ was necessary. All participants were engaged and the results of their “exercises” were lovely and fully saturated with that “blew’. There will be more to look forward to in the future.

Ikegobo - Alter to the Hand - Nigeria (NCMA collection)

Ikegobo – Alter to the Hand – Nigeria (NCMA collection)

A few days later, in a return visit to the museum, I was exploring the collection again, looking for a specific painting and came across this piece in the African exhibit. It celebrates the hand and the people who rely on that “tool” for their work – farmers, hunters, warriors and artisans. I probably don’t need to explain its intrigue.

testing color depth

testing color depth

The winter temperatures have kept me away from the vats (the garage is chilly), but temperatures spiked to the balmy 50s yesterday. I needed to create a fresh organic vat, as I’ll be doing some test samples in a few days. So an indigo/henna vat is ‘in process’ at the moment and while a daily testing may not be required, I think it’s a good idea. Yesterday I worked with another small swatch of that silk I’ve been experimenting with to test the color depth.   It went through the paces and wasn’t disappointed.  There is something about that blue.

June reds

June 20, 2013

June reds 3

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

I had decided earlier that June would be the month I experimented with Cochineal. It seems that if I plan like this, it’s likely that I’ll follow through.

It isn’t always the case though, as I do have pieces I’ve planned or are still in process from months or years before. It’s just that I’ve learned that sometimes, if there’s a thing I want to explore and a certain season or likely conditions make it more possible, then, it simply has to be done (or something like that). At any rate, I marked June as the time for Cochineal – at least the time for beginning that exploration – however long that takes.

The approach brought to mind working with acid dyes and there probably is some correlation. While I have worked with other dyes, I’ve gotten used to the immediacy of indigo, so it was a different way to work.

The process went more quickly than  anticipated.  I had planned not to do any dyeing until probably Friday, but from the information gathered, it seemed that everything was in place and that I could go from the mordant to the actual dyeing earlier than planned.  So I took the risk and moved on.

The image here, shows a few silk pieces simmering in the pot.  It seemed that the dye color went deeper the longer they soaked.

It required patience on my part, as I so looked forward to the results and they were fairly unknown except for the hue. After seeing the results, I understand the ancients’ love affair (see Amy Butler Greenfield’s A Perfect Red) with that dye color.

“Uma no Ha”

January 7, 2013

“Uma no Ha” / Horse’s Teeth
Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Between Charleston and Christmas, somehow, I managed to work up 6 scarves for my brother – a special order. I was free to do what I pleased – always fun.

This particular pattern had been calling to me to work up on a scarf (even though I’d worked it up on a piece of cotton earlier). The soft bamboo seemed a good choice and I like the results.

Then, his family got a close look and a couple more requests came in, so this weekend I worked them up and finished today. Silk was asked for this time in the same pattern and the results came back a little differently. It’s not surprising and I did wonder.    The stitching is more “specific” in the second scarf – just a different result.


Indigo & Henna vat

October 26, 2012

Indigo & Henna vat results
Originally uploaded by SOFennell

The image is of small samples, results from a henna/indigo vat – something I’ve been wanting to experiment with since this earlier this summer. I’m finally able to focus on it and am enjoying the results.

I had in mind the coming workshop for classroom teachers, upcoming at Artspace – thinking of presenting a vat that would be safe and approachable for the classroom.  In this case, I was thinking more of the younger set – the elementary group.  Of course, it’s really beyond that, but they were my focus since I’ve had some experience with presenting the vat to that age group (and higher).

I don’t know if at this point, if the workshop is going to come off (there’s still room…), but I’ve gained something just by the experiment. It’s a healthy direction and as I said earlier, I like the results and look forward to further work with it.

Shibori swatches

June 17, 2012


Originally uploaded by j9leblanc

I stepped away from the studio on Friday to spend the day at the Gregg Museum. Janine told me that there were some swatches that needed some “attention” (you need to see these!) and they also needed some documentation. I took snapshots until my camera battery was exhausted. Then we switched over to Janine’s.

This example is only one small example. Not all are authentic shibori, but printed or woven examples. Still aspects of these pieces are quite wonderful and I find them inspiring. This is, again, just a very small sampling of what’s in the collection of this ilk.

handmade book

February 17, 2012

handmade book – 1

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Beyond the scarves, wall hangings and other things always in the making, I like to step away and work on something that’s even more personal. Fabric books are a medium that work, as I like books. This one is still in progress and I hope to complete it soon as I hope to include it in an exhibit coming up this spring.

Day at the Gregg

November 28, 2011

climbers – det.
Originally uploaded by SOFennell

A day at the Gregg, with friends,  recently was so very therapeutic. I was supposed to be helping with stitching (display). It didn’t turn out that way though, and for me, it was probably for the best. I was asked to take pictures instead. That meant “play!”

It was a visual feast. I’d been hearing about particular pieces in their Japanese collection for some time. What I saw though, was beyond my expectations and was able to document some of those elements. To say that it was inspiring is an understatement.

These climbers (in Kanoko shibori), making their way up an unseen path, on a silk nagajuban (long under kimono) toward Fuji (on the upper back)  recall a Hokusai print. It has to be Fuji since it’s the “only” mountain typically celebrated in that way.  However, my inner eye says “No…it’s  Sakurajima.” I think it works.

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