Event Archive

March 2020

Eber Lopez Ferreira with Alexsandra Oliveira

12 Different Colors from Brazilian Plants 

3 Day Workshop and Lecture Session


Sadly this workshop overlapped with the Covid-19 Quarantine Lockdown, so this workshop was held privately between staff and close friends.

Eber Ferreira of ETNO Botanica, a company from Brazil focusing on extracting natural colors from nature through clean and sustainable processes, covered dye extraction processes from 12 native Brazilian plants, while specifically focusing on dyeing plant fibers: cotton, linen & hemp. Eber and Leka taught natural dye application from an industrial perspective, and focused on recreating colors at any weight of fabric. In the future, Slow Fiber Studios staff who attended this workshop will be hosting a review workshop and open sales of ETNO Botanica products to the USA for the first time.


March 2020

Talk, Show & Tell, and Potluck Social

Visiting Yi Minority people in Sichuan and Yunnan, China

Led by Yoshiko I. Wada, Gao Yu, and Slow Fiber Studios China Study Tour participants, Peggy Osterkamp and Cathy Cerny.

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In May of 2019, Slow Fiber Studios ventured into southwestern China to experience distinctive textile crafts and techniques of the Yi Minority people. Join us for group reflections on our experience in Yi-country, witnessing traditional garments and elaborate accessories made using processes and materials specific to the culture and land. The travelers will bring examples of textiles they collected in the communities we visited. This talk begins with a potluck lunch and socializing with textile friends.

January 2020

Artist TALKS & Afternoon Tea

Bamboo Dyeing & Quilt Creation
Yoshiko Jinzenji from Kyoto, Japan
Han Text in Ethnic Textile & Indigo Work Clothing in Zhejiang, China
Gao Yu from Beijing China

An informal presentation on the work and life of Yoshiko Jinzenji, who is the foremost contemporary quilt artist in Japan and a natural dyer focused on distinctive bamboo coloring from Bali. Her tour-de-force quilt work from 1980 to 2000 chronicles fabric from the renowned textile designer, the late Junichi Arai. She is also well known for the nature-inspired textile making in her Bali studio, which she kept for 25 years working with local artisans. She is a connoisseur of traditional arts and crafts of Japan and China: calligraphy, tea ceremony, cuisine, and incense. She will stage the modern tea ceremony she developed in collaboration with artists and artisans from Asia.

Inspired by his research for upcoming exhibition at Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Gao Yu examined Han characters incorporated into textile designs by minority peoples in China. Most Chinese ethnic groups have no written language so their designs carry cultural stories and beliefs that enrich their lives with colors and patterns. After looking through his family’s collection of Chinese minority textiles, he found that ethnic groups from different regions have adopted the Han characters in distinctive ways. Some convey the original meanings of the characters and others incorporate them as motifs in their traditional design systems. Gao Yu described this rich cultural background and discussed the political and social factors that have influenced the emergence of ethnic-minority motifs within Han-majority China. In the second part of his talk, Gao Yu will introduced a sample of lesser-known indigo-dyed work clothes worn daily by the Han community of Zhejiang Province during the early half of the 1900s. 

November 2019

SOCIAL & Shibori Tenugui Exhibition

Meet Hiroyuki Murase from Suzusan Germany
Saturday 16 November 2019


Suzusan’s roots lie in the Japanese town of Arimatsu. In order to cope with  the decline of the shibori trade that has been witnessed over the past five decades, the shibori craft community is attempting to give the technique a more contemporary relevance by developing innovative techniques and producing modern creations.

Hiroyuki is the eldest son of the Murase family. He studied art at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey, as well as at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. During his time away from Japan, Hiroyuki has gained appreciation gained appreciation for his family’s work, which is so rich in tradition. In 2008, he co-founded with a German colleague the Suzusan label in Düsseldorf, where they continue to create high fashion shibori design for interiors and wardrobes.

In November, he came by to the Slow Fiber Studios Annex for a casual lecture and hosted a shibori tenugui exhibition, all made and designed in Arimatsu, Japan.

November 2019

SOCIAL & Tenugui Exhibition

Saturday 16 November 2019


Fellow dyers and indigo enthusiasts met over communal, robust 30 gallon organic indigo vats made from Persicaria tinctoria, Indigofera tinctoria, and Indigofera suffruticosa from Tennessee and California, USA and Oaxaca, Mexico.

October 2019


Sarah Bellos, Tennessee, USA
Thursday 24 October 2019

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Sarah Bellos, CEO and founder of Stony Creek Colors (SCC), is returning to Berkeley to share with us some details of how the company is shaping the future of the fashion industry in the U.S.

SCC challenges modern industrial practices by fostering local agriculture, strengthening the local economy, and implementing environmental sustainability in manufacturing natural dyes for textiles. Their bio-based colors are made from locally farmed plants.

It is the first company in the U.S. to grow indigo at a scale usable by the commercial textile industry. The company is expanding to grow, source, and manufacture an array of regional, bio-based dyes that move the color wheel beyond blue. One of their newest products, black walnut paste, is a dye extracted from waste hulls sourced from hulling stations in Tennessee, where the nut is separated out for food use. The company has been introducing alternative crops to farmers in Tennessee facing decreased demand for tobacco.  


October 2019


Monday 21 October 2019

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Fellow dyers and indigo enthusiasts met over communal, robust 30 gallon organic indigo vats made from Persicaria tinctoria, Indigofera tinctoria, and Indigofera suffruticosa from Tennessee and California, USA and Oaxaca, Mexico. Slow Fiber Studios founder Yoshiko I. Wada provided casual instruction and demonstration at the beginning of the Indigo JAM session and gave advice on participants’ latest indigo projects. 

October 2019


Lucy Arai + Yoshiko I. Wada, USA
Saturday – Monday 19 – 21 October 2019

ARTIST TALK & Potluck Social

Artistic Practice Through Sashiko
Presented by Lucy Arai
Saturday 19 October 2019

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Lucy Arai, foremost contemporary sashiko artist and Yoshiko I. Wada, researcher of Japanese folk textile traditions, shared the artistry and history of sashiko, a form of Japan’s Northeastern region (Tōhoku) as a practical method of darning textiles and piecing and cloth. The stitches reinforce clothing, bedding, wrappers and bags, increasing their capacity for insulation, durability and warmth. Its linear nature results mostly in multiple variations on geometric patterns.

Students embarked on a journey through basic running or darning stitchery on used cloth to the development of their own contemplative geometry on hand-loomed or hand-woven bast fiber cloth. From humble, selfless beginnings the handwork opens into a state of transcendent beauty.

October 2019


Talks by Kristal Hale-Murray + Alejandro de Avila B.
Led by Yoshiko I. Wada
Sunday 13 October 2019

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Medieval Italian Alms Purse examined at the Abegg-Stiftung
Talk by Kristal Hale-Murray

Nestled in the foothills of the Bernese Alps in Riggisberg, Switzerland is the esteemed Abegg-Stiftung (Foundation). Recent graduate from the textile conservation program, Kristal Hale-Murray, spoke about the Foundation’s private textile collections, research and conservation program. Recently having obtained a master’s degree in textile conservation, Kristal presented her dissertation on the analysis and conservation of a 13th-14th Century medieval tapestry-woven alms purse from the Cathedral of Como, Italy, emphasizing the use of dyes originating from plant species foreign to medieval Europe.  She also provided a glimpse into the current exhibition organized at the Abegg-Stiftung, Luxury on the Nile – Late Antique Attire from Egypt which includes loom-constructed woven clothes and natural dyes.


The Raffle of the Jaguar
Talk by Alejandro de Avila B. 

Francisco Toledo, artist and philanthropist extraordinaire, donated to the Museo Textil de Oaxaca an example of woven feather work that may originate in the Mixtec region of southern Mexico, and which probably dates from the late 17th Century. The study of this exceptional fragment has allowed us to recreate the dyeing, spinning and weaving of duck/goose down into fabric. In this lecture, Dr. Avila, founder of the Ethnobotanical Garden of Oaxaca, described and illustrated the historical textile, along with a full sized huipil (the Mesoamerican women’s tunic) that he has designed and crafted together with the talented  young weaver Noé Pinsón Palafox, inspired by Francisco Toledo’s gift to the museum. The huipil features a pattern of jaguars, intended as a pun on the historical moment Mexico is going through currently.

September  2019


Natural Dyes: A series of FIVE exploratory, focused one-day workshops
Catharine Ellis
Tuesday – Saturday, 10 – 14 September

Artist Talk, Book signing & Potluck Social
Thursday, 12 September


courtesy Nick Falduto

Catharine Ellis, distinguished textiles artist, educator, and natural dye specialist, taught a comprehensive series of one-day workshops examining natural dyes through five separate specifications. These included dyeing wool with and without mordants, utilizing ‘classic’ tannins such as gall nut and locally available tannin variants, comparing mordant processes, printing with natural dyes, and simultaneous direct application of assorted natural dyes and mordants onto fabric. Students focused on the importance of informed exploration of natural dyes for textile artists who desire a thorough understanding of their processes.

August  2019


Shibori A to Z: Learn from a Master
by Hiroshi Murase, assisted by Yoshiko I. Wada
Monday – Thursday, 19 – 2 August 2019 

Pre-Workshop Talk & Trunk Show
by Hiroshi Murase, translated by Yoshiko I. Wada | Sunday 18 August 2019


Mr. Murase taught a variety of traditional techniques and introduced shibori tools to create hand-dyed textile masterpieces. Drawing from ancient and modern knowledge, students explored how to design patterns, made stencils, and developed their inspiration into a creative process. Yoshiko I. Wada, author of definitive books on shibori, assisted Mr. Murase during the workshop with Japanese translation and making the indigo vat.

June 2019


Community Indigo JAM and Shibori Social
DVD Launch Party for Ana Lisa Hedstrom| Saturday, 15 June 2019


Participants brought their natural fiber projects and worked alongside Yoshiko I. Wada and Ana Lisa Hedstrom. Ana Lisa gave firsthand insight into her newest DVDs, ARASHI II: New Patterns and Possibilities &Kakishibu Persimmon Tannin: Shibori on Paper and Fabric. Casual instruction was provided on how to use tools and materials for shibori techniques and the use and maintenance of natural indigo vats. Participants also gained personal feedback and advice from Yoshiko and Ana Lisa and met fellow dyers in the area over communal, organic indigo dye vats.

June 2019


Jewelry from Found Objects
by Maria Nevermann | Saturday – Sunday,  1 – 2 & 8 – 9,  June 2019


In this two-day workshop, German jewelry artist Maria Nevermann shared her unique process for creating contemporary jewelry from found objects. She took walks and collected plastic debris she found around Berkeley. Students created assemblages from these random fragments, inventing new shapes and color combinations that gave the discarded objects a second life. Students created wearable art from their own collections of found objects and learned European gold leaf technique with 24 karat gold to enhance their pieces.

Fiber Techniques in Jewelry
by Maria Nevermann | Saturday – Sunday,  1 – 2 & 8 – 9,  June 2019


In this two-day workshop, German jewelry artist Maria Nevermann taught an ancient fiber technique for knitting with metal wire, lightweight pieces in extraordinary shapes. Maria combines old craft fiber techniques with storytelling to create new expressions of traditional crafts. Students were instructed to bring a piece of cloth or clothing that holds special meaning. These materials were transformed into wearable art.

March  2019


The Year of Ethnobotany: North American Indigo Projects
Michel Garcia + Sarah Bellos + Rowland Ricketts + Rebecca Burgess + Indigo Makers
UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens, Berkeley, CA
Sunday, 31 March 2019 

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INDIGO from PLANTS, or PETROLEUM?: Transparency, Traceability, and Farm-to-Trade

Slow Fiber Studios and UC Botanical Garden collaborated in presenting the North American Indigo Projects with guest speakers, including world-renowned natural dye expert Michel Garcia from France; Sarah Bellos of Stony Creek Colors, Tennessee; and Rowland Ricketts, Indiana. Their presentations will be followed by a discussion panel with Rebecca Burgess of Fibershed; Kristine Vejar, Berkeley; Craig Wilkinson, Sonoma; Graham Keegan, Los Angeles; and a moderator, Yoshiko Wada, Berkeley. In light of the growing awareness of ecological responsibility—the need to  preserve the health of people and the environment, as well as the traceability of production processes—artists, designers, and industries are reviving the use of natural indigo. The colloquium discussed models of using indigo dye in artistic pursuits, community engagement, education all in the intention to learn about revolutionary changes in the industry.


Indigo Intensive: Dried Leaves, Compost (sukumo), Powder, and Paste.
by Michel Garcia, Sarah Bellos, Rowland Ricketts, Craig Wilkinson
Saturday, 30 March 2019

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The Slow Fiber Studios Annex initiated a dynamic experience with interactive conversations and exchange of information between invited indigo specialists. This unique crossover facilitated the studio space as a platform to activate expert indigo knowledge, spark imagination and inspire the participants in a wide range of topics concerning indigo.  Discussions and demonstrations covered: sukumo (compost), dried indigo leaves, indigo powder and making indigo dye vats. 

April 2019


Beyond Mordants: Printing & Painting
by Michel Garcia | Monday – Wednesday,  1 – 3 April 2019

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Presented in our Natural Dye Workshop IV DVD, Michel shared his newly developed printing and painting techniques on cloth.  This workshop, he taught two methods how to process insoluble colors such as indigo, annatto, and alkanet for painting.  For example, how to extract indigo from dried leaves of indigofera plant family as a dye paste. In addition, Michel covered printing with pagoda tree blossom buds, logwood, and cochineal together on wool. Participants learned to combine and layer various colors together on the the same surface and steam set colors in cloth. 

October 2018

Colloquium + Trunk Show + Workshop
Batik: Enduring Art of Dyers in Indonesia
Hillside Club, Berkeley, CA
Sunday, 14 October 2018

Slow Fiber Radio: Listen


Slow Fiber Studios hosts a series of events focusing on Javanese life and culture through the lens of its batik traditions.

There is a rhythm to life in Java reflective of the rhythm of its dance. The pace is slow, much slower than what we are used to in other parts of the world. There is ritual, and dance, and music, and with it – there is batik.

Batik touches on just about every aspect of Indonesian life. From the cloth a child is wrapped in when it is born to the clothing worn by Indonesian leaders at important gatherings, batik binds a proud nation to a long and cherished cultural identity.

Batik is truly “intangible”, as UNESCO proclaimed in 2009. It is part of our world heritage, the identity of an island nation, worthy of admiration and preservation.

Film Screening + Lectures + Demonstration + Performance
Sunday, 14 October

Trunk Show
Sunday, 14 October

Menyanting: 3-Day Batik Workshop
by Bu Dalmini | Friday – Sunday, 19 – 21 October

October 2018


Nui Shibori as Artistic Exploration
by Jane Callender | Thursday – Saturday, 11 – 13 October 

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Nui shibori master Jane Callender will present the simple geometry and pattern planning method she uses to explore the many textures and pattern variables possible with stitch-resist. This workshop will focus on the use of buffers and blocking materials, as well as how multiple needles can be used to implement differences to established sharply defined lines and field, to create new motifs, and to develop pattern and texture. Jane will show and discuss various shibori methods for personal creative explorations

September 2018


A Poor Sister No Longer: Mexican vs. Andean Textile Arts
by Alejandro de Ávila Blomberg
Friday, 14 September

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Archaeological, historical and ethnographic documentation, little known outside of Mexico, paints a vastly richer and more complex landscape of fibers, dyestuffs and techniques than has been acknowledged in the general literature on indigenous textiles. Many of the woven structures thought to be exclusive to the Andes turn out to be also present in Mexico, where some may well have originated. These include the production of scaffolded, multi-selvaged weavings, central to the amarres process, which has fascinated shibori enthusiasts worldwide. This initial lecture of our series will create a context of broadened horizons across the Americas in which to discuss and demonstrate featherwork at Slow Fiber Studios.

September 2018


Weft Brocading with Feathered Yarn
Noé Pinzón Palafox
Friday, 14 September

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Three of the six featherwork textiles that have been preserved from the colonial period in Mexico are decorated with supplementary wefts, where duck down is twisted in between a 2-ply cotton thread. In this workshop Noé will demonstrate how the thickness and puffiness of dyed, feathered yarn can be controlled in weft brocading, in the same manner evident in the aforesaid three surviving examples. Rather than using a Mesoamerican backstrap loom, which is cumbersome to transport and requires the manipulation of several sticks, Noé will do his demonstration on frame looms, which workshop participants will be able to handle with ease.


Feathered Yarns: Colonial Textiles as a Means to Inform Contemporary Art
Hector Manuel Meneses Lozano | Saturday, 15 September

After a thorough study of a textile fragment from the late 1700s, the Textile Museum of Oaxaca (MTO) recreated a technique that had been lost for centuries: the making of feathered yarns. In 2016, the MTO presented an exhibition with contemporary works that were enabled by our revival of this once-lost specialty yarn. This presentation will address the characteristics of the surviving textiles from the colonial period and the way these were reinterpreted to create contemporary textile artworks.


Openwork Card Weaving
Noé Pinzón Palafox | Saturday, 15 September


Noé Pinzón Palafox weaving a duck feather textile.

A couple of gauze napkins at the MTO dating to the early 1900s, collected by Alejandro in the area where his paternal family originated in the state of San Luis Potosí, were embellished with a handsome fringe in a structure that had not been reported before. It can be described technically as warp twining combined with weft-wrapping. Noé will demonstrate how to set up and weave the fringe, using only a set of cards and a needle. The result is an intriguing lacy texture reminiscent of the complex openwork weaves of southern Mexico, first described by Irmgard Weitlaner Johnson in the 1970s, which Noé has also mastered. We will show photographs of a large 3-web openwork textile designed by Alejandro and woven by Noé with Oaxacan silk and feathered yarn, decorated with such a fringe.

September 2018


Revival and Innovation: Textile Traditions of Mexico and Asia
by Alejandro de Ávila Blomberg + Hector Manuel Meneses Lozano +
Noé Pinzón Palafox + Tomoko Torimaru + Masako Takahashi
Sunday, 16 September

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The Ever-Evolving Nature of Oaxacan Textiles
Hector Manuel Meneses Lozano

2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Textile Museum of Oaxaca (MTO). As part of this year’s programed activities, the Museum prepared an exhibition that features the works of weavers and embroiderers from various regions of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Candidates were invited according to their willingness to look at their own work with a different perspective, as well as the close relationships that have been established and maintained over the course of these 10 years. Each project was carried out by teams consisting of artists from different communities in order to foster unforeseen collaborations. The exhibition aimed at creating a stronger sense of self-confidence in the participants, as they were able to propose, design, and execute their own ideas after attending a series of workshops at the Museum and gaining access to good-quality yarns and opportunities to consult the MTO’s collections.

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New Formats for Old Weaving Techniques
Alejandro de Ávila Blomberg

The Textile Museum of Oaxaca (MTO) has been able to put together a large collection of colonial and ethnographic textiles from all areas in Mexico and Guatemala, including regions that had not been documented previously. In addition to some novel structures that appear to have no parallel elsewhere, the MTO collection includes a number of weaving techniques that had been recorded in the Andes, but not in Mesoamerica. A collaboration between Noé as weaver and Alejandro as designer produced eight works where old structures studied at the museum, which had disappeared long ago, were revived to convey contemporary messages, such as heartfelt protest in the face of Mexican elitism, and a humorous act of resistance to imperialistic policies on our northern border. This lecture will illustrate and describe the eight textiles


Three Structures Combined with Featherwork
Noé Pinzón Palafox

Noé will demonstrate three of the techniques recorded in textiles in the holdings of the MTO. The first will be weft-wrap openwork combined with 8/8 simple gauze, a structure that is demonstrated in a beautiful pair of men’s trousers from northern Oaxaca that date back to the mid-1800s, preserved at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology of UC Berkeley. The second technique will involve supplementary wefts on 2/2 complex gauze. The third structure will feature discontinuous wefts to weave a lattice with feathered accents. To do this demonstration, Noé will use the backstrap loom on which he has woven the eight works described in Alejandro’s lecture.


Considerations on the Origin of Textiles + Uzbek Tablet Weaving
by Tomoko Torimaru

When thinking about the origin and development of textiles invented by human beings, it is indispensable to consider warp and weft twining, which predates loom-woven textiles in the archaeological record. In China, a Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) fiber textile piece, which is the interlacing of two wefts interwoven with warps excavated from “Cao xie shan” ruins in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, from the 30th to the 40th century BC. Her current research indicates that the most logical process for interlacing warp yarns to weave textile is by tablet weaving. In China, a tablet-woven silk textile piece was excavated from “Feng xia” ruins, Liaoning Province, Early Shang period (about 1600 BC – 1046 BC). Tablet weaving still exists in several parts of the world, but this was possibly developed as a more efficient method of weaving warp twining that was originally done by hand.

Tomoko will demonstrate tablet weaving from Uzbekistan using two-hole cards.


Making in Mexico: From Inspiration to Artwork
by Masako Takahashi

Visual artist Masako Takahashi will speak about working and sourcing materials in Mexico and how traveling and living there profoundly influences her artmaking. She will show examples and be available to answer questions. Her pompoms are made of hand spun, hand dyed Oaxacan wool, and many were dyed with natural indigo blues, cochineal pinks and reds, and other natural plant dyes, sourced in Oaxaca. A selection of pompoms in a variety of colors and sizes will be for sale, to benefit the Oaxaca Colloquium.


February – August 2018


Inventive Methods for Fulling Resist
Jean Cacicedo + Yoshiko I. Wada | February – August 2018


Create textiles with surprising and inventive textural contrast through the use of an unusual historical European paste resist method. We’ll use a specially designed wool gauze and gain an understanding of its physical and chemical structures to achieve lacelike effects through various techniques.


Unexpected Applications for Shaped Resist on Wool
Jean Cacicedo + Yoshiko I. Wada | February 10 – 11

Apply modern design to the ancient method of felting, exploring wool’s shrinking characteristics through shibori techniques and quilting processes. Play with woolen fleece, yarns, and special fine gauze fabric layered with non-shrinking fine silk, polyester, and cotton scraps, and learn how to effectively dye with indigo on delicate wool by controlling pH and temperature to achieve varying intensities of blue on wool, plant fiber, and silk.

Visiting Artist: Yoshiko I. Wada

SFS EV18 WADA PortraitYoshiko I. Wada is an artist, curator, and textile scholar, president of World Shibori Network, founder of Slow Fiber Studios, producer of the Natural Dye Workshop film series, and co-chair of the 1st – 11th International Shibori Symposia. She is the author of pioneering publications on kasuri and shibori. A Berkeley resident since 1973, she continues to lead a wide range of workshops, lectures, tours, and symposia internationally, emphasizing sustainability, tradition, and innovation in design.

Visiting Artist: Jean Cacicedo

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Jean Cacicedo is a prime innovator of the American studio craft Art-to-Wear Movement who uses the transformative properties of wool, cloth and paper to create objects that adorn both the body and the wall. Telling stories from journeys that come by way of dreams and visions, her works can be found in the permanent collections of the de Young Museum, Museum of Art and Design (MAD), Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Racine Art Museum, and the Tassenmuseum Hendrikje.

January 2018


Intersections: Mathematics + Design + Identity
Saturday, January 27 | Berkeley Hillside Club


Join us at the Berkeley Hillside Club for an evening with four distinguished presenters from varied but interrelated disciplines. The first half of the evening will focus on concepts of infinity bridging the realms of mathematics and design with artist Phil Webster and esteemed logician Martin Davis. The second half of the evening will maintain the mathematical theme with a view towards regional identity, with presentations by Vanessa Drake Moraga on South American indigenous weavings and Yoshiko I. Wada on Japanese folk embroidery.


A Methodology for Creating Fractal Islamic Patterns
Phil Webster


Blending his own mathematics background with ancient craft traditions, artist Phil Webster presented his methodology for applying fractal mathematics to Islamic design concepts to create his multimedia artwork.

Algorithms + Infinity
Martin Davis

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Our neighborhood world-renowned logician Martin Davis explained how mathematicians go about specifying increasingly complex sets of numbers. Using the basic and concrete language of numbers, we saw how changing your perspective on a problem can lead to deeper understandings and new avenues to explore.


Essential Geometry of the Mapuche and Ranquel Poncho de Cacique
Vanessa Drake Moraga

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Textile scholar Vanessa Drake Moraga discussed two visually disparate design traditions of the Chief’s Poncho, an emblem of cultural resistance and indigenous identity woven by South American native peoples, linked through their use of ancient archetypal symbols to convey concepts of cosmological order, sacred space, and relationships to the land.

(In)tangible Heritage: Stitchery from Northeastern Japan
Yoshiko I. Wada

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Esteemed textile scholar Yoshiko I. Wada introduced sashiko embroidery from northern Japan, whose simple graphic motifs often build to create complex compositions with varied symbolic meanings. Discussing sashiko’s regional specificities and the phenomenon of its global spread, Yoshiko introduced the themes of the 11th International Shibori Symposium on how craft communities can thrive as regional identities in increasingly global societies.


September 2017


The Botany and Chemistry of Natural Dyes
Michel Garcia + Dr. Vanessa Handley + Dr. Margareta Sequin
September 8, 2017

Photo courtesy of Michel Garcia

Attendees joined natural dye expert Michel Garcia, UCBG Director of Collections and Research Dr. Vanessa Handley, and SFSU Chemistry and Biochemistry professor emeritus Dr. Margareta Séquin for a deep dive into the subject of natural dyes focusing on botanical taxonomy and phytochemistry.


Indigo Intensive
Michel Garcia | September 5-7, 2017

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Photo courtesy of Michel Garcia

This workshop covered several different reduction vat methods, including fructose, henna, and ferrous vats, as well as applications using fresh leaf indigo grown in Berkeley. In addition, Michel addressed ethnic indigo traditions including dyeing with multiple types of indigo, such as combining Indigofera tinctoria with Justicia spicigera for a deeper blue, and making Azul Maya (Maya Blue) pigment, a “pre-Columbian nanotechnology” manufactured by ancient Mesoamericans.


Subject: Indigo
Michel Garcia | September 3, 2017

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Photo courtesy of Michel Garcia

An enduring color throughout human history, indigo blue crosses cultures, from ancient body painting in the British Isles to the saturated robes of Tuareg men in the Sahara. Michel shared his knowledge of botany and chemistry to unlock the mysteries of this widespread dye.


Tannins Intensive
Michel Garcia | September 1-2, 2017

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Photo courtesy of Michel Garcia

Commonly found in leaves, barks, roots, and fruits of trees, tannins are used to produce wine, leather, and ink. Dyers can use these naturally occurring compounds to produce colors from beige and grey to warm red to dark brown and black, in addition to widening the color palettes for other natural dyes. Students learned to take advantage of their unique characteristics to improve colorfastness, bond colors to fibers without using inorganic mineral mordants, and apply photosensitive effects and polymerizing qualities by gaining a deeper understanding of tannins and their diverse applications.

August 2017


From Spiderweb to World Wide Web: Textile Matters in History
Loan Oei | August 26, 2017

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Photo courtesy of Loan Oei

Through this film screening and commentary, independent researcher Loan Oei traced the interwoven threads of textile and human history from prehistory to the future. She investigated the ways textiles have impacted and interacted with people across time and space through varied thematic lenses: relationships between textile metaphors, etymology, mythology, and the emergence of language across the globe; the evolution of artificial light from oil lamp to fibre optics; the growth of architecture from tent to monument; economic networking from barter to globalization; digital innovation from Chinese drawloom to computer; development of aero- and astronautics from silk wings to NASA’s solar sails; artistry from musical instruments to contemporary fiber art; and much more.

July 2017


Black, White, & Infinity: Sumi Ink, Silk, and Felt
Jorie Johnson | July 28-30, 2017

Photo courtesy of Jorie Johnson

Having a valuable supply of interesting fabrics at your fingertips is the key to designing fresh and exciting work. Jorie Johnson covered skills not commonly taught in natural dye classes, but essential to creating intricate layers of design that carry your personal signature. Students employed clamp-resist on silk with sericin erasure to produce pattern repeats, learn how to apply carbon sumi ink to fabric, and create three-dimensional colorful embellishments through traditional feltmaking.


Felted Accessories Marked by Shibori
Jorie Johnson | July 24-25, 2017

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Photo courtesy of Jorie Johnson

Students enhanced and strengthened felted wool pendants, buttons, bracelets, brooches, cords, and more using shibori techniques. Students learned to create unique handmade felted forms and used resist dyeing methods to add complementary color and pattern.


Treasured Felts: Research into Rare Collections of Japan
Jorie Johnson | July 23, 2017

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Photo courtesy of Jorie Johnson

Attendees explored three unique groups of felts in Japan with artist Jorie Johnson: kasen “flower rugs” imported during the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 CE), part of the Japanese Imperial Household Treasures housed in the Shōsō-in. Jorie shared her technical observations on these fascinating collections including related felting and dyeing techniques still practiced in Central Asia today.


Mathematical Foundations to Islamic Design: 
Classical Tilings and the Work of Dr. W. K. Chorbachi
Dr. Jay Kappraff | July 3, 2017

Photo courtesy of Jay Kappraff

Interdisciplinary mathematics scholar Dr. Jay Kappraff expounded upon the work of Iraqi artist and scholar Dr. Wasma’a Khalid Chorbachi, who sought to prove there was a solid mathematical basis to Islamic design despite common sentiment to the contrary.


Engineering Ornament + Introduction to the Art of Arabic Calligraphy
Dr. Mamoun Sakkal | July 1 – July 2, 2017

Photo courtesy of Mamoun Sakkal

Following his opening lecture, Engineering Ornament: Square Kufic Calligraphy in Textile Design, Mamoun Sakkal taught a hands-on workshop with an overview of the origin and development of Arabic script, a review of traditional styles of Arabic calligraphy, and examples of contemporary calligraphic art.


Engineering Ornament: Square Kufic Calligraphy in Textile Design
Dr. Mamoun Sakkal | July 1, 2017

Photo courtesy of Mamoun Sakkal

Award-winning Calligrapher and typographer Mamoun Sakkal presented the intriguing use of Square Kufic calligraphy in textile design over many centuries, including prayer rugs, talismanic shirts, modern dress, and national flags.


May 2017


An Algorithmic Aesthetic of Pattern: Examining Traditional Islamic Textiles
Carol Bier | May 27, 2017

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Photo courtesy of Carol Bier

Local Islamic art and textile scholar Carol Bier’s illustrated lecture explored the origins of an algorithmic aesthetic that permeated arts throughout the Islamic world in the 9th-12th centuries. Attendees were given the opportunity to examine and handle a variety of Islamic textiles in addition to works in other media, and to consider processes of pattern-making based on design algorithms.


SARI, DHOTI, & MORE: Magic of the Unstitched Garment
Rta Kapur Chishti | May 9, 2017

Photo courtesy of Rta Kapur Chishti

Textile scholar and author Rta Kapur Chishti expanded upon her vision for the Sari School, which aims to raise awareness about the many ways people in the Indian subcontinent have explored to create a magical unstitched garment. Students learn the unlimited possibilities of draping sari, dhoti, and more in accordance with personal convenience, comfort, body form, and formality or informality of occasion.


KHADI: The Enduring Indian Handspun – Handwoven Tradition
Rta Kapur Chishti | May 7, 2017

Saris of India: Traditions and Beyond by Rta Kapur Chishti
Photo courtesy of Rta Kapur Chishti

Khadi, a traditional Indian handspun handwoven fabric revived by Mahatma Gandhi in the 1920s as a unifying element of the independence movement, has been a tool of spiritual regeneration, a symbol of participation in a greater cause, and an example of the ongoing tension between the economic value of mechanized production versus the tangible and intangible value of hand skills. Recognized textile scholar and author Rta Kapur Chishti shared with us an overview of khadi as a textile as well as its history and significance in India.


April 2017


Hira-Ori: Shadowfolds for Shibori Techniques
Chris K. Palmer | April 22-23, 2017

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Photo courtesy of Chris K. Palmer

Berkeley-based artist Chris K. Palmer introduced his Shadowfolds technique and patterns in this folding and dyeing workshop. Using simple twist folds layered with arashi-shibori taught by Yoshiko I. Wada, students explored the twisting grain of pleats as the folds produce novel polygonal regions of rotated stripes.


Algorithmic Aesthetic Opening Social
Carol Bier + Chris K. Palmer | April 2, 2017

Shadowfolds by Chris K. Palmer

Reverberating Echoes curator and Islamic art scholar Carol Bier was joined by exhibiting artist Chris K. Palmer to kick-off the Algorithmic Aesthetic Event Series. Carol introduce the Reverberating Echoes exhibition and discussed her process of curating an exhibition around an “algorithmic aesthetic” of pattern as a defining feature of traditional Islamic art. Chris discussed his artwork and the geometric and mathematical processes behind its creation.


Reverberating Echoes - BOOK COVERReverberating Echoes: Contemporary Art Inspired by Traditional Islamic Art
January 31 – May 26, 2017

The Spring 2017 exhibition at the Graduate Theological Union’s Doug Adams Gallery, “Reverberating Echoes: Contemporary Art Inspired by Traditional Islamic Art,” highlighted the work of seven American artists of diverse interests, backgrounds, and training.  Inspired by traditional Islamic art, their works echo historic aesthetic concerns, often advancing human knowledge and understanding by experimentation with new technologies. Traditional concerns focused on the spatial dimension and the effects of light on form, the association of Arabic language and script with revelation, and patterns in the plane, exploring the nature of two-dimensional space.

Doug Adams Gallery
2465 Le Conte Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709