Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fields of Fiber -- A Sea of Color .... Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Retreat

Wynken, Blynken and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.

Where are you going
And what do you wish
The old man asked the three...
[excerpt from Wynken, Blynken,and Nod by Eugene Field]

The Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Retreat was at a camp a little north of Castaic in California. Driving there is where I went and what we wished for was fun, fiber, dyes, and the camaraderie of other fiber folk --- all good friends.
Fiber brings out the best in people and this event has a special spirit of relaxed learning. Everyone is good to one and other. People share, everyone has something to offer and teach. It is communal education at its best even with accompanying scheduled classes of every ilk.

Misty Evening

The Yucca plants were in bloom and I stopped after getting off the highway to get some photos. I love yucca plants. They aren't easy to grow (the seeds have to have been in soil during a fire -- part of the natural chaparral habitat -- in order to germinate.. but once they get going they are equally difficult to move. I believe they are protected in California as well.

Ruth taught a number of things including a great felting class.

Bridget (not in this picture) taught several card weaving classes. Here are two tablet weavers on Saturday morning. Card weaving (tablet weaving) is like other fiber activities... pervasive, obsessive... delightful!

People let their hair down ...

...And did what made their hearts happy...

Friends got together...

Some people danced...

MUCH spinning was to be had at the 72 hr spin-in...

We never did think to count up the number of different wheels and spindles that surrounded us.
[Group Photo by Melissa]

[Photo by Sherry] Bru teaches on her Antique Great wheel.

Color was pervasive and basic in its presence everywhere. But the world is like that... perhaps we just become aware at intense moments of saturation.

The dye pots were warm, the dyes were intense, we were there to make color!

The thing that started it all was the seduction of color. It wove its way into our brains and Bjo got this idea for a retreat... One thing led to another, but it was the dye pot that brought us here to begin with.

[Photo by Melissa]
This artful photo caught the movement and some of the color of the dyepot artifacts as well as the diversity of vision from the dyepot artists.

[Photo by Melissa]
The indigo pot was THE place to be and everyone had a different idea of what to put in it. The results were tremendously exciting!

Some of us got a bit carried away with the indigo... 'We can even dye your hands to match your eyes'... Blue nails guild motto... (and Dorothy thought emerald green was the way to go...).

[Photo by Sherry]
Indigo and shibori by Bjo -- The wind caught and flew a good many fabrics and yarns. It was part of the grace of land and we embraced it fully.

[Photo by Melissa]
MANY different colors came out of the dyepot this weekend!

This class, taught by Ellen was on a specific style of tapestry weaving. Ellen a long time weaver and print artist was incredibly organized and shared much of her artistic vision and thoughts with us. She really opened up some areas where I have been stuck. It was like a dam breaking and the water flowing freely.

Here is Ellen's sample that she worked out for our little class project. If one wanted to move in a different direction that was fine too. The techniques are not difficult. If you are interested in seeing more about this process you can go to Ellen's blogsite Weft to my own Devices; tapestry entry.

[Photo by Ellen]
We were all very concentrated at each step. Part of the magic of this technique is the consideration and use of yarns in a color family and the use of yarns of completely different textural qualities to communicate a feeling and idea.

[Photo by Ellen]
Here Dawn shows her amazing progress on her pin tapestry.

Esther always comes with a class as a larger concept. [Visit Esther at Star Cross Designs] Last year at the retreat she had a full weekend class, 'Come weave on a Warp Wt'd Loom', and then the finished shawl was raffled off on Sunday amongst those who had done the weaving. This year it was an embroidery tapestry a la Bayeaux Tapestry. She collected a variety of medieval illumination images depicting all sorts of fiber activities and had Melinda and Bruce do line drawings. These line drawings were transferred onto linen and the lines are then embroidered... with hand spun and naturally dyed yarns. If you've seen the Bayeaux Tapestry, you will note that it is really an embroidered artwork. People did a wonderful job and everyone did a little bit of something. Of course it isn't finished... it is a work that will travel and continue to be a communal piece of art something like the real Bayeaux Tapestry.

A piece of the long view... the linen with fiber activities - eternal from then to now and onto the future - stretched for about 5 feet.

Our illustrious leader and archetypal goddess of natural dyes, Bjo in her own line drawing, a part of the essential spirit of fiber arts over generations. A woman of the 21st century fits completely with a woman from the 12th century and I'm sure those from a millenium before.

These three women came from illuminations and tapestries working together in their common theme and purpose.

And soon enough the color began to be added...

[Photo by Ellen]
How appropriate ... a dye pot and fiber about to be dipped.

[Photo by Melissa]
Where would we be without sheep shearers???

[Photo by Ianuk]
Everyone tried to do some embroidery or spin and dye some thread.

Cynthia taught a class on netting.

Cynthia works on her net near the Lapidary area she set up.

[Photo by Sherry]BASKETRY
Therese teaches Basketry... an ancient and honored art form.

This class was Therese's annual Basketry class. It is always full and the baskets are intensely amazing and beautiful! One erstwhile gentleman worked into the night.. with no light to finish his basket on Saturday. People get excited at the retreat... a bit obsessed, but always lots of fun is had.

[Photo by Ianuk]
On the floor...
[Photo by Ianuk]
... In a Chair... Baskets were made everywhere.

[Photo by Ellen] TIE AND DYE
Here is a little view of the annual Tie Dye with twists and folds class. This is on Sunday 24 hours (or so) after applying the dyes. The magic in this class as in most is that there is no wrong answer. There are only design elements. People got excited as rubber bands and string came off their garments to reveal... COLOR!!! of all sorts.

[Photo by Ellen]
This t-shirt being held up by Cora will be walking (with a person inside it) at the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Research in October.

[Photo by Ianuk]

[Photo by Ianuk]
Tied and Dyed as far as the fence is long...

[Photo By Sherry]
There were classes for everyone. This class was felting on soap. (and that felted soap works really well to clean dye off the hands).

[Photo By Sherry]

[Photo by Bru] MUD DYEING
From Clean to Messy... There was a very unusual class in Mud Dyeing using various soils to produce a paintable mud. Interestingly enough the use of mud brought out the earliest paleo in the class participants. Some incredible beautiful things were made. The cloth was pre-soaked in a special natural solution and then the mud was painted on (in a very simplistic instruction... I was late and missed the class). The mud must stay on for two weeks and then it can come off and there should be color and design.

[Photo By Ellen] Ellen did these Paleo Horses. She has explored the paleo part of her psyche through weaving, printing, drawing, and now painting with probably the same materials as so long ago.

[Photo by Ellen] Here are some shirts by the Tan family done using muds as the dyestuff.

It was impossible not to be enthusiastic and come away with a bit of mud somewhere.

[Photo by Ianuk]
This is an experiment Eowyn came up. She dyed her bag with indigo and then painted on that. Hopefully, the mud dyes will come through in two weeks. I'm curious to see.

[Photo by Ianuk]
When we had dyed things all day ... there was a great drumming circle for a bit after dinner.

The difficulty is that there were lots of classes and of course my camera didn't travel enough even with the kind loan of photos from other attendees. There were many other classes including Tablet Weaving, Rams Horn Tablet Weaving Pattern, lapidary grinding, glass lampwork, kumihimo, Tri-loom weaving, Rigid-heddle weaving of early medieval patterns, graduated dyeing, Plying Parade, and others... There were many many classes and students could move easily in an informal way to catch classes. It is an unusual, but highly successful format.

At the end of the weekend we had a show and tell. My camera battery died so I am dependent entirely upon the generosity of fellow retreat attendees and their photos.

[Photo by Melissa]
Melissa likes to practice the art of not sleeping when at the retreat. She comes with a plan and a purpose. Her sample cards made using only natural dyes will allow her to duplicate and understand what she did to create the colors of individual yarns, wool and cotton. (yep, she saved the cotton tyes on her skeins to put on the sample cards... no moss growing on her...

[Photo by Ianuk]
This was an amazing tied and dyed shibori piece. After folding and tying her cloth, She dyed the yellow portions in either Kamala or dodder (I can't remember). Then she did some careful dipping in the indigo pot. When she was done she equally carefully rinsed et voila... designer tablecloth.

[Photo by Ianuk]
Mud painting, spinning, natural dyeing work. I believe that the spun work is a wolf hybrid blend.

[Photo by Ianuk]
This shows inkle weaving, tri-loom work, rigid heddle historic weaves, and naturally dyed yarns. Indigo is of course a big favorite.

[Photo by Ianuk]
Mud painting and basketry by the Tan Family. They do as much as they can. Visit them at GoshYarnIt.

Bjo did manage to get some work of her own dyed. Shown here are some incredible yellows from the Kamala dye bath and some red (hiding) that was done using brazilwood. The dark brown skein is a skein of lovely soft brown alpaca dyed in indigo. It gave an intense deep brown.

[Photo by Ianuk]
This is Carolyn's work, Tiger's eye lapidary and some lovely felted soap. The lapidary work took some serious patience and care not to sand one's fingers off. Great work Carolyn!

[Photo by Ianuk] THANKS FOR FEEDING US!!!
And lest we forget our absolutely fabulous Cook... she kept us extremely well fed. My personal favorite... apple crisp with icecream. You have no idea.... YUM!!! (and thanks for your hard work!).

You can see more photos and read further tales of the Dye Retreat at some of these links: Weft To My Own Devices, Lissamc, Tender Loving Work, Ianuk's Photos, Syrendell (The Tan family), Eowyn's Artifacts, Carol's Retreat Slideshow, Laurie's Photos, Catherine's Photos, Griffin Dye Works Retreat (scroll down to past retreats for links to photos). For Griffin Dye Works on Ravelry Click link. NOTE: To see a photo larger - simply click on the photo.