A couple of weeks ago, I heard from my friend (and a woman I consider a mentor), Carol Soderlund. She's been traveling and teaching workshops all year, and she finally landed back at home for a few weeks' rest before heading out on the road again. She said she'd visited my blog to catch up with what I was doing, and that she enjoyed the work she saw (flattering!)... and then she shook my tree to its roots by asking one simple question: Where's the cloth?
Where's the cloth? Such a good question, and so insightful.
And right, too. I haven't been working with fabric at all this year. A couple of collages with fabric I'd already dyed in previous years, some stacked journaling samples here and there, but no real surface design work on cloth. I've had my reasons for it- some of them valid, most of them excuses- but after a few emails back and forth with Carol discussing them, she gently suggested that I needed to get off my duff and pick up the cloth, again.
The good news is that she's teaching a class in October that should be just the ticket to reinvigorate my fabric muse.
Layers Upon Layers, offered by Carol at the Crow Timberframe Barn, promises to be a most unusual exploration of surface design.
To celebrate her new class- and in happy anticipation of attending it, myself- I've interviewed Carol to talk to her about what her students can expect!
Judi: When someone asks you what you do for a living, how do you answer and why?
Carol: I teach art workshops for adults on color, fabric dyeing, and surface design.
Judi: While you’re known for your innovative and popular classes, Color Mixing For Dyers and Color Mixing For Dyers II, your newest class Layers Upon Layers sounds quite different. What can you tell us about your new classroom experience? What experiences does this class hold for your students?
Carol: I am very excited about the class! Last fall's class was so rich and varied. Each person did very individual work, and no one's work was alike. There will be a small amount of preparatory work in advance of class, mostly gathering inspirational images, but also developing a textural print, as I am planning to bring a Thermofax screen for each student who sends me an image in advance. I will email about all this about to those who sign up 6 weeks ahead of class. We will also be working with blank silkscreens and creating texture boards. An emphasis will be experimenting with the order of layers to see different effects. Those who choose to may be patching and stitching before dyeing to create textures.
Ice Storm, © Carol Soderlund
Judi: Is this class about making complex cloth?
Carol: Layering multiple techniques on one piece of cloth is one way to explore layering, and I will be demonstrating several ways to do this with layers of dye and paint.
However, it is only one way to explore the concept of layering, and much more limited than my concept.
I envision layering as much more than that. For example, I can see layering color with soy wax layers --color, wax, color, wax, color, wax-- as fully within the parameters of this class.
Another example, layering cloth of varying opacity--sheers and opaque.
Another example, layering cloth of different textures--linen and silk and cotton and velvet, for example.
Soy Wax sample, © Carol Soderlund
Judi: Can you discuss more about this statement in the course description:
"Those who choose to may be patching and stitching before dyeing to create textures."
Carol: I was deliberately vague here, because I don’t want to limit anyone’s thinking. The order of layers will be under consideration. You could piece before dyeing or surface design, or at any point in the process. You could also patch --as in hand stitch a raggedy edge piece on top of another piece and then dye it. I love that the description made you wonder about it!
Ice Storm (detail), © Carol Soderlund
I really hope to inspire each student to take layering each in her own direction. I also hope to stimulate some ideas for directions maybe not previously considered. So while making complex cloth MAY be involved for some people, others may explore the concept of layering in quite different directions. I will be asking students to do some thinking work ahead of class, and to start collect some examples of layering as inspiration.
Soy Wax sample, © Carol Soderlund
I am having a blast developing my samples and the concepts of what is possible. I think the week will be very interesting. I will do several demos of technique, and will have “prompts,” but students will have much freedom to explore directions that in interest them personally. This will make for a very rich environment, where all are stimulated by what others are doing.
Student Work, © Carol Soderlund
So I know where I'll be spending the first week of October- in the beautiful setting that is the Timber Frame Barn, immersed in something I love and surrounded by like-minded artists. You should join me!