Posts Tagged ‘Workshops’

What happened to summer?

October 10, 2017

I have to ask. It seems to have dissolved in the vat of indigo. A project emerged this spring. No, several projects “appeared” and grew. At least the one did.

Cameron Village Banner

And, it was my own doing.  “We” couldn’t have done the idea or the space (where it was to display) justice, if the project had not ‘grown’.

F.e.B. shirts

There was also custom work – shirts arrived from people I had worked with previously.  So, extra clotheslines were strung to accommodate them as well as the banners.

detail of custom dyed tunic

July brought a workshop on creating Noren – “split” curtains.

noren making, drying outdoors

I don’t think we actually sewed any together, but there was plenty of dye work and of course, that was the point.

At the end of August all of these projects were brought to a close with the installation of the banners at Cameron Village Library. I’ll simply have to write more about that later, but they are currently on display through the month’s end.

Indigo Threads

Currently, I just want to draw you, dear reader, to 2 upcoming workshop opportunities this month and next – they are listed on my workshops page. “Aki” is coming up quickly and “Arashi” follows almost on its heels in early November.

Thank you for your patience and for reading!

high calorie

October 7, 2016

From last month’s workshop:

from day 1

from day 1

How does one select only one image from an array of so many successes? They can be found on my flickr or instagram sites for a closer look. I think we (and I do include myself in this) thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I’ve listed dates for my next workshop at Pullen Arts Center on the Workshops page. More details will follow later.

In the meantime, research and experiments continue with yukata continue.


practice piece – for a sleeve

I’ve been practicing Katano shibori over the years, but haven’t been at all satisfied with the results. So far, this is the closest that has given some affirmation. To me, there are so many variables in this technique. It’s not just the stitching, and cloth thickness, but the kind of cloth as well. It has to be practiced, and still…more seems to be required.

Regardless, an opportunity to examine some yukata from the collection of the Gregg Museum of Art and Design came up – Janine offered, so of course, I took her up on it.

yukata with wide tucks

yukata with wide tucks

We photographed, measured, looked at the seams and other finishing details. We looked at several, made for both men and women and compared their differences and similarities. Not one was the same, in spite of the form – lots to think about there.

For “dessert” she pulled out a kimono with it’s inner kimono that had this for a lining:

inner lining

inner lining

High calorie, don’t you think?  I love that red.

And by the way, my U.S. readers, if you aren’t registered to vote…please do so.  And when it’s time (early or on the day), go cast your vote.  If you’re undecided, educate yourselves about the candidates and the issues at hand.  I’m registered and I’m voting.  Definitely.



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.

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.

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.

sunny with thunder

June 13, 2014

Actually, it finally manifests in a soaking storm. Even though, it has been possible to put a few things in the vat and on the line. Today was not the case though.

As my son is home for a brief visit, we headed to the museum to see Estampas de la raza /Prints for the People. This was my second visit and could be back for more as there is so much to be considered from a cultural and historical perspective, just for starters.

My son mentioned Artemio Rodriguez, so I paid attention to his work this time around and later looked through a book containing nothing but his prints – strong and thought provoking.  We also viewed Raúl Colón’s enchanting illustrations which also presented some of the same ideas, similar perspectives, but a different approach.

linen in indigo

linen in indigo

Through the week, though, the focus has been on dyeing the above piece of linen that will serve as a canvas for a piece I think of as an “ensō.”  The dominant motif is circular.  It’s of Gunma silk that has had the sericin removed. At this point it needs to be stretched over the linen.

detail view - not so deep, but it's a reflective dyestuff

detail view – not so deep, but it’s a reflective dyestuff

Reaching that depth of hue has really been the “chase” this week. The above photo shows it much lighter than it really is. Still, the process may be continuing into next week.

手で・te de ・by hand

手で・te de ・by hand

May’s first event, Herbfest, sparked an older idea I return to from time to time – exploring aspects of my “other” language.

Coming up next week, I’ll be spending an evening with Twisted Threads presenting a discussion and encounter with indigo (and shibori).  Then over the weekend, time will be spent in a studio at the NC Museum of Art presenting a 2 day workshop on the same topic.

what brings inspiration among other things

January 30, 2014
Mary & Janine discuss exhibit display

Mary & Janine discuss exhibit display

I think I literally “eat up” the time when visiting the Gregg.  Right now, the collection is packed up and sitting in a small building off-campus waiting for the day that it can be delivered to a new and more permanent setting. So, to “go behind the scenes” (for me) is quite the savory experience.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t exhibits, they’re just smaller and in other contexts, which to me, makes them all the more intriguing. This time (February), it’s a focus on Japanese prints with some added pieces (textiles, pottery….). It’ll be fun to see what actually “turns up.”

Last week, part of the day was spent looking at a few of those elements, hoping to help out with some of the language end (so far, not so much) and general knowledge and just looking. What turned up was a feast for the eyes and helpful when considering the upcoming May workshop – and that was another reason for the visit.

Indigo dyed Japanese Ikat from the Gregg Collection

Indigo dyed Japanese Ikat from the Gregg Collection

Among the pieces were some small swatches of indigo dyed Ikat.  Balfour-Paul’s Indigo discusses the topic, so it was good to have come across these examples and to see what she meant by “soft-edge patterning”. Of course, this also relates to the book discussion coming up this weekend at our art museum (NCMA).

At the same time, I inquired about some yardage (from China apparently) that Janine had sent a photo of last year. Later, I worked up a small piece based on it. It was good to have a close took at the original and to get a sense of how it was created.

Yardage in indigo & shibori - collection of the Gregg.

Cotton yardage in indigo & shibori – collection of the Gregg.

So, when the snow melts…the temps rise…I’ll “boot up” a new vat or two and see what comes. Inspiration comes out of these museum visits. The dye studio is a bit on the chilly side at the moment. Good things to look forward to though.  Winter, no matter the impact is brief in this area.


January 23, 2014
Timbered Hill/Light Snow - Maud Gatewood - NCMA collection

Timbered Hill/Light Snow – Maud Gatewood – NCMA collection

A visit to the museum and a chance meeting with a landscape I don’t recall seeing before – it fit right in with the anticipation of snow due in the evening. In the end, it only amounted to a light dusting in my area – disappointing.


Detail of Kimono from the collection of the Gregg Museum

I like winter. I wished for more of those little flakes despite the inconvenience.- something to do with the effect it has on the landscape. It changes it, turns it into something new – ‘transformative’ – Kathy used the word last week. I keep pondering the word.

Silk study-detail

Silk study-detail

We had one mild day early in the week, so I was moved to “reboot” the vat to keep on with my studies in silk – form and that ‘that’ blue. The small results have given me some affirmation to keep exploring. Even a very small piece sends a message.”try it larger…see what happens.” Definitely.


Something’s brewing at the Gregg…what could it be?

I’ve also recently made a few additions to the Events & Workshop pages – there are a few added workshops and events (a few blurry lines there). Please take a peek. I’ll add more details as time goes on, but for the moment….じゃね!

Musubu/むすぶ – to tie or wrap up

December 19, 2013

It feels like a good many things are being tied or wrapped up – not just gifts.  The year is winding down, nature seems mostly at rest (unless you’re in the south), things are being quickly drawn to a conclusion.  That also means, if there are plans for the year ahead, they are quickly being finalized.  At least, that seems to be the case for some things, and with me, to a degree.

Plans for workshops are being finalized, which means promise in the new year – something to look forward to.  The only thing “on paper” that I can mention at the moment is the “demo” or very mini-workshop offered as part of the NCMA book club discussion of Jenny Balfour-Paul’s book, Indigo.  It will give the participants a chance to not only experience the color but the dye – to see how it works, which (I hope) will explain the love for and mystique surrounding.  My “vats” will also participate.



In the kitchen:  Long ago, luck and good health were often at the top of things desired when looking into a new year.   They still are, and I’ve just recently learned that around or on the Winter Solstice, it’s recommended that one eat pumpkin, squash or a vegetable in that family (actually they may be a fruit…). It’s known as 冬至カボチャ/どうじかぼちゃ/douji kabocha or winter solstice squash. I made up an early pot of soup recently and savored the aroma and taste of herbs, apples and butternut squash.


In the Studio: Explorations with this gummed silk are moving slowly and deliberately.  This particular sample is in itajime and instead of dyeing it, it was put through a degumming process.  So, the exposed (“frosty”) areas drew up tightly creating a different texture and dynamic.

As I said earlier, the material is precious, so I’m taking my time with it.   I have so many more questions about this silk and its implications.

There’s no need to rush things and we’re in a “particular” season now!

further studies and inspiration

September 21, 2013

It’s finally finished!  It took most of the week to complete this and had a little time to move on to other pieces before the rain moved in.

hana1AWith this small series there were any number of approaches to the pattern I could have taken, but for this context decided to keep it simple and also wanted to keep  that reference to the traditional.   It’s a gift, so I’m looking forward to eventually getting it to the recipient (at the proper time – and I doubt she reads my blog!).

So, now I’m  a little more free (I suppose) to pursue the next thing coming – the October & November classes.  I’ve been going through pieces that might be useful to refer to for technique as well as pattern.  I also thought to introduce some departures from my usual.  In that vein, the detail below illustrates one pattern I’ve been considering.


At the week’s end, I attended the opening reception of Measure of Earth, a collection of pieces (Gregg Museum) on display at the African American Culture Center at NC State. It’s another fabulous, well-considered display and the pieces gave me a great deal to think about. There’s a lot to take in and on this first viewing, I focused on the indigo, The example below is just a small detail of one of the large indigo cloths in stitch resist.


As the exhibit is on view into mid December, I will definitely encourage my students to see it.

%d bloggers like this: