Summer Creation

August 27, 2010

I spent the early afternoon across the Bay in the backyard of Dr. Sara Gottfried, to give her a dye garden consult and provide her with some materials for eco-painting exploration.  She had some lovely organic cotton shopping bags ready for adornment.  Her woad crop was looking incredible– and her sticky monkey flower was in full orange bloom.  Since our last consult a year ago, she’s been busily cultivating her dye plants.  Our meeting, this time, was focused on playing with new applications– particularly the use of natural dye paint…

Dr. Sara’s work is focused on helping women and men to live holistic and healthy lives.

It’s pretty well known that our everyday exposure to synthetic compounds has been creating some serious health impacts.  Dr. Sara’s patients, which are everyday folks–show the signs, within their own bodies, of an environment that is pretty chalk full of things they cannot process healthfully.  And for this reason she is committed to learning and incorporating natural and non-toxic ways of living into her own life–and inspiring others to do the same.

Natural dyes are one element, of a multi-thronged approach to shifting our personal practices towards the promotion of vitality– and health– for us, and the planet.

It is elderberry season– I brought this harvest to Dr. Sara’s house, so that she and her daughters could make an elderberry dye bath together.  Elderberry on cotton creates lovely shades of lavender.  We discussed the possibility of naturally dyed nurses robes.

Creating a healthier environment for ourselves, means resourcing and revitalizing our use of natural substances that we humans have had relationships with for eons.

Even good old cow manure, has a use beyond natural garden fertilizer.  We mixed it with hot water, stirred, and made paint.  We were certainly not the first to do this.  The manure of herbivorous animals has been used as a mordant (binder), a paint, a dye, and fuel source for open fires, for as far back as records are available.

Community of Artisans

August 1, 2010

A group of artists and designers from the Fibershed project came together on a foggy Fairfax morning– that within hours became a gorgeous sun-filled afternoon.  Designers Mali Mrozinski and Dyan Ashby prepare wool for combing on Katherine Jolda’s bicycle powered drum carder…

The Fibershed project continues to evolve and nurture a variety of our goals and visions for a cleaner and more community centered way of life.  Most of us work rather independently within the world of textiles–  it is a great alchemy and fusion when we can come together to learn, create, and share new skills.

Our teacher, Katherine Jolda– the owner and operator of Felt the Sun, designed and built her own bicycle powered drum carder to comb the wool and prepare it for felting.  With a shortage of mills in the immediate area (minus the wonderful Yolo mill), many of us working with the material are in search of ways to process it in efficiently.  The human powered carder can make a 5oz. batt of wool in just minutes!

Katherine spent  6 years on the Navajo reservation, working in a farm-based diabetes prevention program– and during this time built an intricate relationship with the churro sheep and the families that cared for them.

This pre-felted piece was all laid out and ready to felt just before this picture was taken.  This piece makes use of both the churro and the by-product wool from Marin County.

Some finishing touches are being placed on what will become a kundalini mat in Amber Elandt’s Muir Beach home.  Amber is a designer, and raw food chef that just finished an amazing hooded sweater design for the Fibershed wardrobe.

Sue Warhaftig is seen her working her wool into felt.  Sue is a knitter, massage therapist, mother, gardener, canner, and picks up new skills very quickly.

As evidenced by this incredible fedora she completed in just one afternoon!

Molly de Vries the founder of the Fabric Society, and the designer of Furo Shiki fabric products completed a beautiful indigo dyed felted beret. It was just a bit too wet to put on the head.

Molly, her husband and three children have begun a project to live without the use of plastic packaging for a year, she has entitled it the non-disposable life. They are using the Furo Shiki fabric pieces to transport food from farmer’s markets to their Mill Valley home.

The bicycle powered drum carder in action.

Susan Hayes, the designer and owner of Point Reyes Station’s Susan Hayes Handwoven’s is seen here with the wooden mat, agitating the wool into it’s soon-to-be felted form.

These are the talented hands of Erin O’Reilly of the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, CA.  Erin made a beautiful coffeeberry washed felted pouch.

In the process of coming together as a community, we became inspired by one another’s talents and enduring commitment to keeping these skills alive.  Erin, like all of us, value these community experiences greatly; and yet, she has been taking her commitment a step further– by putting countless hours into organizing a series of re-skilling classes that will be offered by RDI this autumn (some of the textile classes will be offered as soon as this September).

Through the process of skill-sharing we are brought into a place of working, communicating, and enjoying one another’s company, in such a way  that we not only enhance our own personal internal experience– but simultaneously we build a network of friendship, knowledge, and practical skill that simplify and bring ease and bounty to our lives.