The Colors of Your Thoughts

"The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts." ––Marcus Aurelius

Rug from Oaxaca made with natural dyes  
Demetrio Lazo's rug celebrates nature with
a wealth of naturally dyed colors.

Last year our local handweavers guild surveyed members about what kind of workshops everyone most wanted. The topic on everyone's mind was color, which is not surprising. Each weaver has his or her own favorite structures, but every one of us deals with color choices. Even if you're weaving in white, what shade of white? Cream? Ivory? Eggshell?

 

And when we choose color, we choose not only hue, value, and saturation. We also make choices about where the color comes from. Will we take advantage of the inherent colors of our fiber: the taupe of unbleached linen, the honey hue of tussah silk, the whole range of animal fibers? Will we use the bright, saturated colors of chemical dyes, or the amazing and harmonious range of colors that Mother Nature supplies?

 

If you, too, relish the color questions, I hope you'll enjoy our newest eMag (interactive magazine) Colorways, in which we explore "Artisan Hues in Fiber and Fabric." In the naturally colorful pages of its first issue, you'll travel with Linda Ligon to Oaxaca, Mexico, where master weaver Demetrio Bautista Lazo takes you on a video tour and shows you how he creates a vibrant palette from the bounty of nature. Stephanie Gaustad shows you the incredible color range of natural-colored cotton and explains how to preserve the lightfastness of the earthy hues. Michelle Wipplinger shares her adventures helping indigenous weavers use their local, natural dyestuffs to create color appeal for international markets, and dyer Chris Conrad gives you a whole mini-workshop in the ancient Japanese art of kakishibu, creating textile art with the fermented juice of unripe persimmons, an amazing substance that actually develops richer tones when exposed to sunlight.

 

   Dyeing skills changed the lives of these Malian women

Dyeing skills are giving new hope and pride

to these young women in Mali, West Africa.

Closer to home, Colorways editor Anne Merrow takes us to Oakland, California, to visit Kristine Vejar's naturally dyed fiber and yarn company, A Verb for Keeping Warm, where Kristine explains how she gets a rich range of effects with grown, bought, and foraged dye materials. And I have the pleasure of taking you to my home town, Edmonds, Washington, where a very special store is helping take poor girls from the streets of Mali, West Africa, and give them traditional dyeing skills and new lives. If you want to get in the spirit, there are also suggestions and resources for dyeing your own Malian mud cloth, and the video of Stephanie Gaustad and Alden Amos performing "The Woad Ode," a venerable tribute to the blue-dyed ancient Britons, is simply not to be missed.

 

We hope Colorways will inspire your textile endeavors, expand your horizons, and brighten your soul with colorful thoughts.

 

 

 

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