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We were super grateful to receive a Neighbourhood Small Grant which was used to purchase supplies and equipment to host an Indigo Dyeing Workshop in our neighbourhood inspired by a Japanese technique called Shibori.
Indigo dye is a truly magical dye to work with and when oxidized onto natural fibres creates that beautiful blue that we typically associate with denim. In order to prepare for this workshop, I attended an Indigo Social hosted by Sophena Kwan of Maiwa, which was incredibly inspiring and informative. Maiwa are experts at anything to do with fibres and textiles.
I have always been inspired by the magical properties and beautiful results that indigo dye produces, and as an artist and creative facilitator I’m always interested in expanding my skill set. What I learned through my own experiments and through hosting this workshop is that the results are always so beautiful and as varied as the people who produce them.
Using a variety of objects, such as shaped pieces of wood, tongue depressors, mason jar lids, dried beans, elastic bands and rope, workshop participants folded and bound their fabric pieces. After soaking in water, the prepared bundles are carefully dipped into the dye bath and then removed to begin the oxidization process. What’s truly magical about the process, is that the dye bath when active is a yellow-green colour. The submerged pieces of fabric come out a distinct green colour, and then changes colour before your eyes and deepens into a rich blue. Deeper blues are achieved by re-submerging fully oxidized pieces in successive dips.
I find that anytime a group of people are involved in a creative project near one another, there’s a wonderful invisible space that gets created. In this space, unlikely conversations and collaborations become possible between relative strangers. The shared experience of learning and creative experimentation is ideal for building community. I was continually amazed at how the workshop participants supported one another in their dyeing experiments, and how contagious the excitement in revealing the patterns was for everyone. The results as you can see were really interesting and so beautifully varied from one piece to another.
It was also so great to meet and interact with the variety of folks who attended that live in our neighbourhood, some of them already friends and others new to us. We were lucky to have participants in the workshop that ranged in age from 6 to senior.
Thanks so much to the Vancouver Foundation and the whole Neighbourhood Small Grants program, which helps to create community threads and new networks.