Celebrating the visual languages of PEOPLE, COMMUNITY, CULTURE, and ENVIRONMENT through the global practice of resist-dye traditions and innovations
Early morning in the Berkeley Hills, Yoshiko Wada began preparing numerous indigo vats and fructose pots in preparation for the exciting weekend ahead. The scent of indigofera tinctoria filled the studio with its distinct metallic aroma along with the sweetness of boiling plums, a fusion of fragrances that would soon become familiar.
Yoshiko and the Slow Fiber Studios team were approached by the San Francisco-based Hipcamp to teach a weekend workshop for their Summer Skill-Sharing Series. Hipcamp is an online platform and community that provides easy access to numerous and diverse campgrounds across the nation. It has developed a diverse catalog of national parks, public parks, and private land to make unique sites readily available to campers. Sharing like values of sustainable practice, and with an interest in promoting environmental education, Hipcamp invited Slow Fiber Studios to partake in Hipcampout #3: Arts and Craftsmanship on the Coast by teaching a workshop on sustainable natural indigo dyeing. Yoshiko warmly welcomed this unique opportunity to take Slow Fiber Studios on the road, introducing the art of shibori and the practice of dyeing with organic and safe ingredients to Hipcamp’s diverse audience, who ranged from ‘techies’ wanting to escape the city to experienced travelers looking for a new adventure.
The “Hipcampout” took place on Jug Handle Creek Farm, a 35-acre ocean-view property located five miles north of Mendocino in Caspar, California. Providing easy access to Jug Handle Beach and numerous hiking trails, the site provided an ideal environment to learn and experience the transformational process of indigo dyeing in the fresh air and warm sun.
Yoshiko first briefly discussed the chemical and physical processes involved with the indigo, the organic reducing agent (fructose),and the clay resist paste, emphasizing the importance of using environmentally safe materials. She then went on to demonstrate physical examples of the artistic traditions associated with shibori and practiced in a range of global cultures.. One of the most satisfying aspects of this experience was to witness the participants’ reactions the moment they removed their cotton bandanas and bamboo scarves from the dye vat, watching the cloth hit the air and oxidize from soft green to deep blue.
At the end of the workshop, we had a great opportunity to talk with Hipcamp Founder and CEO, Alyssa Ravasio, who was patiently untying the knots from her freshly dyed scarf. Alyssa shared the story of Hipcamp’s founding and how an endless search for a place to camp on the California coast led to creating an online community dedicated to making it easier to camp and connect with like-minded people.
Slow Fiber Studios is glad to have had the opportunity to work in partnership with a community which also values the importance of learning creatively, engaging with an open mind, living sustainably, and connecting with other people.