an inspired failure
By Patricia Belyea
SEATTLE WA Kathy Hattori of Botanical Colors shone as an exceptional teacher throughout the four-day Intensive Indigo Dyeing Workshop I attended last week. Learned, helpful and fun, Kathy encouraged us to try anything we could dream up.
One of our exercises was setting up four vats with natural dyes—cochineal, fustic, cutch and weld. We dipped mordanted skeins of wool in the dyes and then in indigo to create new colors.
I soaked some white Kona cotton in water and then clamped the fabric with big galvanized washers. (The washers were a little mucked up with indigo dye.) Then I dropped the mess into the cutch exhaust vat to sit overnight.
The next morning I pulled the fabric out of the light brown bath and discovered that the some of the washers had eaten through it. Little patches of blue showed up where I had not kept things clean.
Kathy saw my dyeing disaster and loved it. So, of course, I gave it to her. She swiftly dunked one end into an indigo vat to complete the composition.
Once I learned that Kathy wanted to hang the fabric on her wall, I took the masterpiece back. At home I added a top hem made with indigo-dyed Kona cotton and a bamboo hanging stick.
Kathy helped me recognize the value of my “failed” piece. It might be the most artful thing I have created since I started playing with textiles!