Friday, April 18, 2014

Teaching Weaving and Shibori with Natural Dyes: A Workshop at Parsons in NYC

Above, first weaving ever by Fatimah Fahmy 

A couple of months ago my friend Joy Duskin asked me to team teach with her at Parsons School of Design in New York. Our task was to work with students of Professor Luciana Scrutchen, a good friend of Joy's, introducing them to weaving and shibori with natural dyes. Hard to say no! "Lucci," as she prefers, had rented space at the Textile Arts Center in Greenwich Village so that we would have access to looms and a dye kitchen.

Left to right: Fatima Fahmy, Joy Duskin, and Lucci Scrutchen 

We spent all day Saturday prepping looms (sigh) and working with students to make sure all 12 of them completed a 12-inch sample on the loom. Because they were students in fashion design, it seemed to me, they couldn't keep themselves from designing as they wove. Every sample was different and everyone played with a variety of yarns to achieve interesting textures and colors. Below are a few examples of what they did.

Solange Parris with her first weaving

Agatha and her first project

Han Ling and Rachel Chen with a sample they wove together

The plan was for everyone to weave a 12" sample using the woven shibori techniques of Catherine Ellis and then to dye them the next day with natural dyes. One slight problem: everyone was so pleased with their sample that they refused to risk dyeing it! OK, on to Plan B: Have them dye fabric as well, using shibori techniques like stitching and pole wrapping (arashi shibori).

A piece of cotton muslin, stitched and wrapped around a pole and dipped in a vat of madder 

A couple of Lucci's fellow faculty members joined us to do some natural dyeing. Above:
Julia Poteat and one of her shibori samples using madder, indigo, and cochineal

Joy, who holds an M.F.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology, 
brought along an extensive collection of shibori samples.

Joy demonstrated how she achieved an accordion-fold with one sample, first folding it in pleats and then wrapping the folded piece around a pole before dipping it in an indigo vat. Beautiful texture and surface design!

One editorial comment: Parsons does not, at this point, have classes in hand-weaving or hand-dyeing -- but, judging from the enthusiasm and natural talent of the students, I do hope that it does sometime in the near future! Thanks so much to Lucci and Joy for inviting me. I believe I learned much more than I taught. To find out more about the Textile Arts Center, which has a studio in Manhattan and a larger one in Brooklyn, click here. And to learn more about Parsons School of Design, click here.


Heidianna said...

What an amazing opportunity for you, and a wonderful sounding class. Lucky people! Just awesome!

Denise Kovnat said...

Thanks, Heidianna. The students were so much fun. I do have to add that NYC is a challenge when you're working rather than playing!

Notes from CNCH, the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

  Let's start with the photo above: a series of samples woven on eight shafts in deflected doubleweave by Marta Shannon. It's just o...