In the old barn I was in awe of the individually wrapped and twisted silks, saturated with dye that hung from nails spread across old planks. I loved the way the dye dripped on the paper beneath making another artwork from the colors that bleed and drip into curvilinear lines making soft amorphous shapes. It didn't matter that the barn was old and dusty. Now I live in a new cabin. I dye silk in the corner of the basement, dry it on the back porch, carry it upstairs to steam in the kitchen and in the loft I sew it into flowing works of art. Yesterday I looked at photos of my work over the past several years and now I understand the reason for documenting my work. I can see a pattern. I see what I still like. I see colors I want to continue and designs I want to let go of and ideas for new looks. I am in awe.
When I first began, my studio was in an old pole barn. During the evening I processed the silk I had dyed earlier. Wrapped in newsprint, heat set the dye as the silk steamed on the old canner on the wood stove. I loved hanging the freshly rinsed silks in the barn, the contrast between the rawness of the wood, its roughness and the softness of the silk, sensuously moving as the wind blew through the cracks in the barn.
In 2004 I received my MFA in writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. However, I studied Japanese Shibori Silk dyeing with Arturo Alonzo Sandoval at the University of Kentucky. In 1998 a friend had suggested that I learn to dye silk so I could make covers for the hand made books I read from when I was doing performance readings. Four weeks after classes started my 26 year old son had a paralyzing accident. I remember that at that moment I had to make a decision. At first, I was going to quit school and take care of him. Then I realized, his condition was not going away. It was forever and we both had to learn to live an independent life. I stayed in school and placed my experiences in the intensive care waiting room in the silk was dyeing. I had to simplify what I was to learn, there were so many colors, so many techniques. I made another decision to focus on one technique. One palette. I chose arashi shibori a palette of shades and created, not only silk covers for my books, but also wearable art for my performances.
It is no surprise that I was drawn to Shibori as I lived in Japan for three years as a child. The Shibori technique is based on manipulating the fabric by wrapping it around a pole or rope then placing the dye on the cloth. The fabric resists the dye and this creates the patterns. The colors are set by steaming on the stove in my kitchen.
Currently I live in a cabin in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. My inspiration comes from hiking in the woods and trying to figure out how to capture the colors I see. My truly wearable art includes serenity shawls, goddess capes, bolero jackets, poetry vests and skirts, riding coats, caftans and dresses. What I love to do most is create a collection. To layer on various colors and textures of fabrics and designs. Each design has several pieces which have been torn and serged before sewing them together; a process through which I continue to recover memories in the 5/8 seam allowance I learned from my mother.