About 5 years ago (or maybe more), I decided to try my hand at dyeing silk scarves. They’ve quickly become my most favorite winter accessory, even more than my hand knit scarves and shawls!
I can’t even believe I said that, but it’s true. These scarves are so beautiful, and SO WARM, I wear one just about every day. I realized that if my neck is warm and draft-free, it really staves off the chills that won’t go away. I don’t know about you, but sometimes if I catch a chill, that’s it and I can’t seem to get warm no matter what I wear or how many blankets I put on top of me.
For a couple of shows, I had silk scarves for sale in my booth. But, in order to display them well, they take up quite a bit of space, which is always at a premium. So, I stopped bringing them and, until I moved into my studio, had pretty much stopped dyeing them, even though I love them so.
Now, I have a studio complete with a beautiful gallery and shop ~ room to display these lovely pieces. And I’m having so much fun dyeing them again.
Last week, when I was dyeing a bunch of them for our upcoming Open Studio this weekend, I started playing around with the scarves, and the dye, and created a new technique. And I simply adore the results ~ they’re sort of like soft watercolor paintings that you can wear.
Honestly, I’m sure I didn’t invent a completely new technique. I don’t really think there are many (if any?) techniques and methods out there which are absolutely, completely new, unimagined, or untried.
I *will* say that this technique is completely new to ME. I didn’t see it online, or read about it in any book or any online forum. It came about quite organically, as I was dyeing, when I had a thought along the lines of “Hmmm … I wonder how it would turn out if I did this …”
When I pulled them from the washer after rinsing, I was amazed and so pleased that they turned out basically just as I had envisioned and hoped they would (it’s so great when that happens, isn’t it?!).
They’re an impressionistic painting represented on wearable, soft and silky~smooth fabric. Think Monet’s gardens and water, or Alfred Sisley’s clouds, or Armand Guillaumin’s sunsets, or Van Gogh’s … well, everything by Van Gogh 🙂 . Some of the colors have a marbled quality, or what marble might look like if it was multi-hued like these scarves. And others bring to mind the colors of nebula, or distant galaxies.
These scarves are completely one-of-a-kind, because what creates the final result is a multi-layered dye process. And then, the way I set the colors is also organic, and so not something completely in my control. So, as much as I plan, there’s always an element of surprise when they’re complete (and, if I’m honest, a bit of anxiety ~ “What if it didn’t work the way I thought and planned, and I ruined it?” ).
Thankfully, every single one from last week’s batch is fantastic (if I do say so 🙂 ). More to come this week, including some infinity scarves and some wool-silk blends I can’t wait to experiment with.
I recall a friend of mine who is a potter, explaining why he had built his salt-fired kiln. He said that, while he loved his “regular” pottery, the act of creating is done once, and then he has to repeat it over and over again in production. He has a gigantic gas kiln (the shelf part is on rollers, on tracks, and he pulls the whole thing out to load. It’s huge, and impressive). But, with salt firing, the results are so individual and so unique because of how it’s heated, and the organic way the salt melts and sticks to the pots when it’s added to the hot kiln, that every piece he makes is a new, unique creation. And something he can’t do exactly the same way again, even if he wanted to, because of the very nature of the salt-firing process.
Silk scarves are my salt-firing, my outlet to create in a business that is as much about production as pottery can be, when the potter is creating a uniform 5 or 6 piece-place-setting set of dishes, over and over again. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it (or dyeing colorways on yarn over and over), and the repetition of that process itself has a high degree of satisfaction. But, the act of creating is only done once, and thereafter it’s the repetition of producing that creation over and over again.
Having an outlet, whether it’s a salt kiln or a silk scarf or some other “thing” that forces an artist to take a step away from “production” mode, and results in something new and different every time (even if the methods used are similar), keeps all of one’s creativity fresh. At least that’s how I feel about it (and my potter friend does, too).
This post is somewhat of a tease, because I don’t know at this point if I’ll offer these for sale online or not (mostly because, right now, I don’t have time to photograph every single scarf individually and load each one by itself, and that’s what I’d have to do. I think).
But they’re so pretty I wanted to share them and, hey, if you see one you simply must have, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org; I’m happy to sell them from this blog post, or take a special order (as long as you don’t ask for “exactly that color in that photo,” because with this organic, playful process, that’s not really in the cards).
All these scarves are for our upcoming Open Studio weekend, this coming weekend November 5-6, 2016 from 10-5 both days. This is our first year on the Artists of Rappahannock Studio and Gallery Tour, and we’re thrilled to be in the company of such talented, superlative artists.
If you’re within driving distance, you should come out for the day or the weekend! We’re less than 2 hours from downtown Washington, DC or most parts of Maryland (okay, except the far east and north areas); closer if you live in Northern Virginia. At this time of year, Rappahannock County is nothing short of spectacular, there is so much to do and see out here, apples and farm stands, restaurants, micro-breweries and even a distillery, and this Art Tour is a fantastic event and a really fun weekend in the Country.