The Year of Ethnobotany: North American Indigo Projects
Michel Garcia + Sarah Bellos + Rowland Ricketts + Rebecca Burgess + Indigo Makers
Sunday, 31 March 2019
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.
Led by Michel Garcia, Sarah Bellos, Rowland Ricketts, Craig Wilkinson
Saturday, 30 March 2019
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.
Beyond Mordants: Printing & Painting
by Michel Garcia
Monday – Wednesday, 1 – 3 April 2019
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.
Colloquium + Trunk Show + Workshop
Batik: Enduring Art of Dyers in Indonesia
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
Sunday, 14 October
Menyanting: 3-Day Batik Workshop with Bu Dalmini
Friday – Sunday, 19 – 21 October
Nui Shibori as Artistic Exploration – SOLD OUT
Thursday – Saturday, 11 – 13 October 2018
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
A Poor Sister No Longer: Mexican vs. Andean Textile Arts
Alejandro de Ávila Blomberg | Friday, 14 September
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.
Weft Brocading with Feathered Yarn
Noé Pinzón Palafox | Friday, 14 September
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
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.
Revival and Innovation: Textile Traditions of Mexico and Asia
Alejandro de Ávila Blomberg + Hector Manuel Meneses Lozano +
Noé Pinzón Palafox + Tomoko Torimaru + Masako Takahashi
Sunday, 16 September |Berkeley Hillside Club
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.
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.
LECTURE + DEMONSTRATION
Considerations on the Origin of Textiles + Uzbek Tablet Weaving
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
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
Yoshiko 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
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.
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.
ALGORITHMIC AESTHETIC: INTO INFINITY
A Methodology for Creating Fractal Islamic Patterns
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
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.
REGIONAL IDENTITY THROUGH DESIGN AND CRAFT
Essential Geometry of the Mapuche and Ranquel Poncho de Cacique
Vanessa Drake Moraga
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
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.
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.
Michel Garcia | September 5-7, 2017
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.
Michel Garcia | September 3, 2017
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.
Michel Garcia | September 1-2, 2017
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.
From Spiderweb to World Wide Web: Textile Matters in History
Loan Oei | August 26, 2017
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.
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
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
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.
An Algorithmic Aesthetic of Pattern: Examining Traditional Islamic Textiles
Carol Bier | May 27, 2017
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.
TALK + TRUNK SHOW
KHADI: The Enduring Indian Handspun – Handwoven Tradition
Rta Kapur Chishti | May 7, 2017
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.
Hira-Ori: Shadowfolds for Shibori Techniques
Chris K. Palmer | April 22-23, 2017
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: 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