Color, culture and cloth

We had a fantastic workshop with Michele Wipplinger of Earthues here at the farm last week. She arrived in the dark of the night, I was so happy to see her safe and sound. Tuesday morning we hit the ground running, unpacking her wares and setting up and by 10 AM the group had gathered for what was 3 days of lecture and dyeing in the European tradition. Michele taught the process of hue gradation as she was taught by Jean Dufour in France who developed the technique many years ago. Jean Dufour taught Michele the process using only the eye, whereas we were given some actual recipes to follow. The outcome on Thursday was a rainbow of 9 hues with 5 shades within that hue. Natural dyeing has as intense a range of color as any chemical dye ever hoped to have! We feasted on lunches by Berndt and Nancy. I let them choose the menu for each lunch and it was a culinary delight! The weather was perfect all week so we were able to serve outside buffet style up in the garden. Thursday evening Michele treated those who could stay to a slide show of her travels to Mali, Thailand, China, Guatemala and beyond. I watched our winter sheep barn transform to a dye house then an evening movie house complete with an evening buffet…it was marvelous! When the winds of winter are whistling around and the sheep are nestled in this same barn I will remember these colorful days of dyeing; ethnic cloth from around the world, the stone walls awash with indigo from oxidizing skeins, tales of distant cultures and the color that surrounds us.