elin noble :: dye master

elin noble :: dye master

FREELAND WA The first time I met Elin Noble, she asked me, “Will you be my sister?” This question came from an internationally recognized dye artist, teacher, and author, making it all the more stunning.

The occasion was the opening reception of a quilt show titled Elin Noble and Other Strong Women at Penn Cove Pottery Gallery in October 2009.

Elin Noble, 2019, Penn Cove Pottery Gallery opening of Elin Noble and Other Strong Women

The reason behind her surprising question can be traced back two years earlier when I first met Elin’s mother, Maurine Noble, a leader in the quilting world. I began spending considerable time with Maurine and we became Best Buds!

Maurine and I lived nearby, whereas Elin resided across the continent in Massachusetts. Elin appreciated that I was spending lots of time with her mom.

Elin Noble with her mother Maurine Noble

Over the next 15 years, Elin and I would reconnect occasionally.

Here’s Elin at the opening of her ethereal Vox Stellarum exhibit at La Conner Quilt Museum in 2014.

Elin Noble, 2014, at the opening of Vox Stellarum at La Conner Quilt Museum

In 2017, when I visited a global textile collector in the Boston area, Elin traveled from New Bedford to join me for an unforgettable day.

Elin Noble, 2017, in the Boston area

Four years ago, Elin and her husband, Lasse Antonsen, relocated to the Pacific Northwest. Recently, I caught up with Elin at her studio in Freeland, WA, on a rainy June day.

Elin Noble Studio, Freeland WA, June 2024

During our meeting, Elin showed me a fascinating project she and Lasse started in 2018 in Denmark. During a one-month residency, they dyed hundreds of yards of fabric—cotton, silk, ramie, and linen—using parts of an apple tree they found near an abandoned railroad.

The bark yielded rust and golden hues, the leaves produced yellow, and the apples a light pink or washed-out beige. Submerging some of the fabric in an iron solution resulted in grays and blacks.

Apple-dyed fabric by Elin Noble and Lasse Antonsen

Elin used apple-dyed silk organza to create a long coat adopting the traditional Korean patchwork technique of jogakbo. Over 38 additional artworks were produced with the fabrics— with more planned.

Elin Noble Studio, Freeland WA, June 2024Elin Noble, June 2014, with artwork made from apple-dyed fabrics

Currently, Elin is preparing an art piece full of vibrancy and textures for an invitational exhibit in Bogotá, Colombia titled: Which Red. She used natural dyes — lac, madder root, and cochineal — to color the fabrics.

Elin Noble with artwork for Which Red exhibit in Bogata, ColombiaArtwork by Elin Noble for Which Red exhibit in Bogata, Colombia

Elin also showed me the threads she’s dyed and an on-going project on her long-arm.

Elin Noble with hand-dyed thread, June 2024Artwork by Elin Noble, June 2024

Yes, Elin is a renowned artist. She is also known as an exceptional teacher — a rare combination. This summer, you can find her at Quilting by the Lake in NY state, AH HAA School for the Arts in Telluride CO, and a charming Japanese antique shop in Mount Vernon WA.

The themes of her workshops in July and August are, respectively: Natural Dyes: Developing a Personal Language; Indigo Discharge: Blue, Brown, and White: and Indigo. 

Elin Noble Studio, Freeland WA, June 2024Elin Noble Studio, Freeland WA, June 2024

If you get the chance, I highly recommend taking one of her workshops to experience her gentle yet brilliant spirit firsthand.

To visit Elin’s website, view her textile art, and learn about her exhibits and workshops +click here

Artwork by Elin Noble made with botanically dyed fabrics
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ABOUT US: Okan Arts, a petite family business, is co-owned by mother-daughter duo Patricia Belyea and Victoria Stone. Patricia and Victoria sell Japanese textiles online, host creative quilting experiences, and lead quilting & textile tours to Japan.