Yup. I’m going to Kamp! I mean camp. I leave Saturday for five days to Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound. I am taking a class about natural dyes and botanical printing on cloth from Israeli artist Iris Dulman. Last week at this time I knew nothing of my impending departure. Last Wednesday on a whim I looked to see if Irit, who is one of the fiber artists I have recently come to appreciate, ever teaches in the states. Whammo! The answer was YES she does! In fact there happened to be 2 cancellation slots open in a class that had been sold out for months. A class starting next Sunday July16th, just a few hours beautiful drive north of me.
It seemed like a sign from God.
Seeing as I just quit my stable job last Friday, this may seem like a midlife crisis. It may well be the onset-of-a-risky-behavior-binge of some kind. Taking an expensive five day art class on my credit card is the 40 something fiber nerd equivalent of buying a Corvette and cruising for babes. Only this way I get to keep being married to my awesome husband of the last 22 years, and my children are not freaked out. Plus I will end up with new knowledge, and possibly inventory to sell in my renewed Dream Bird Studio venture. (Plus it will be much more fun to pay off an art class than it has been to pay every month towards the thousands of dollars of medical debt that is still on our card nearly four years since this all started.)
I am thinking of it as continuing education, or a recertification after a decade long dry spell away from art. While I have been baking and parenting and cancering and referring folks to specialists, the natural dye world has expanded into the world of hip. Today’s fiber artists aren’t the fiber nerds I knew and loved during my active years as an artist – These days they have swank Bay Area storefronts and Brooklyn guerrilla dye plant gardens. I am so out of touch with these kids of today. Which is why I am going to go hang out with a bunch of middle aged women on an island.
I’m hoping that all of this will sort of reboot my artist self. I am very busy this week getting ready for the class. After I signed up, I was much surprised to discover the extensive materials list of things I need to bring. This includes 30 yards of prepared cloth, all scoured and a bit more than half of it mordanted, plus 34 scarves with the same treatments. Good thing there are already a whole lot of scarves and yardage languishing around in my basement from my earlier Dream Bird Studio days, otherwise purchasing the materials would basically double the cost of the class. This way I can pretend that all that organic cotton and silk I am bringing is basically free.
For those who don’t know, the process to scour and mordant silk, wool or cotton takes a few days. Good thing my studio has some enormous pots and a dedicated dye kitchen space to deal with all this. The amount of pre-class effort required makes me think that I will be hanging out with some serious artists. It seems like a beautiful opportunity to learn so much cool stuff.
In prior classes up on Whidbey I have met some incredible people. I think there is something grounding about doing fiber arts that tends to humble a person and neutralize ego. I mean really, anything we can do today was probably done with more skill 10,000 years ago. We in the west are all generally hacks in comparison to our ancestors. (Luckily there are some pockets of intact textile traditions around the world – and I definitely wouldn’t classify them as hacks.)
So today I finish scouring and start to mordant – this involves moving around lots and lots of water. Having finally figured out syphon technology this new era in the studio involves a lot less lifting – which is good in light of the whole lack of lymph nodes to service my right arm thing. I can’t believe I didn’t use a syphon before when I was doing all that production dyeing ten years ago. I’m older true, but maybe a bit wilier too.
I am so excited. Thrilled really. A.C.K. is going on a road trip adventure! It doesn’t even require driving on a freeway! I’m going to Kamp! Wahoo! (Now just to finish getting that 30 yards of fabric ready…)
Here are a few links to Irit Dulman and some of the amazing young women who are advancing the natural dye world these days:
Irit Dulman, the featured image for this post, seen wearing one of her creations – see why I am so excited to take a class with her? Here is her website: http://iritdulman.blogspot.com
Website for Kristine Vejar, owner of the Bay Area storefront and the author of the beautiful book: The Modern Natural Dyer https://www.averbforkeepingwarm.com
Brooklyn artist, teacher and rogue gardener, Liz Spencer, started an initiative to grow dye plants around street tree enclosures to increase green space in the city. http://www.thedogwooddyer.com
Rebecca Burges, artist, author of Harvesting Color, and founder of Fiber Shed: http://www.fibershed.com/about/
Sasha Duerr, artist and author of Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye Projects for Your Home and Wardrobe: http://www.sashaduerr.com Sasha is also founder of the organization Permacouture: https://www.permacouture.org
Sara Bellos started Stony Creek Colors as a revolution to help farmers transition from growing tobacco to growing Indigo. https://stonycreekcolors.com
(And of course myself – not so young or hip – with the reinvented Dream Bird Studio! )
A bit about A.C.K.™
*A.C.K.™ has stood for all kinds of things around here during this Pooka journey – Alderbrook Chemo Klinic, the Alderbrook Cancering Klub, and now Arts & Crafts Kamp! A.C.K. has headed on the road for field trips before, for a while it even had its own mobile nap unit, but this will be the first solo journey for A.C.K. member iris! She will be traveling in the little grey mouse car rather than in the orange Scooby van. She thinks Kamp will be way more fun then chemo.