Volume 18 Issue 1 A Journal Dedicated to Natural Dyes Spring 2013
Indigofera australis
Indigofera australis
Photograph Copyright by
Robyn Heywood


Dear Readers:

Welcome to the Spring 2013 edition of the Turkey Red Journal. In this issue, we have two articles that focus on indigo and feature the work of three artists from different parts of the world. In addition, we have an article describing the experimentation process of growing and dyeing with weld.

Robin Heywood, an Australian artist and self-taught dyer who is the coordinator of the Dye Group of the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria (http://home.vicnet.net.au/~handspin/index.htm), shares with us her ongoing research with Indigofera australis. Robin has documented four different methods of indigo dyeing obtaining a range colors from yellow to blue and also documents the effect of climate conditions on the colors obtain from her indigo plants.

Currently at the Chicago Cultural Center, an exhibition titled "Indigo" features the work of Indian artist Shelly Jyoti, and US artist Laura Kina. In 2008, Jyoti and Kina started working together after realizing that they have a mutual interest in pattern, textiles, Asian history and indigo. As stated in the catalog essay, "The common thread between their complimentary bodies of work is the color indigo blue from India's torrid colonial past, to indigo-dyed Japanese kasuri fabrics and boro patchwork quilts, through blue threads of a Jewish prayer tallis, to the working class blue jeans in the United States."

Both artists collaborate with artisan groups in India to produce many of the pieces in this exhibition. In her body of work, titled Indigo Narratives, Jyoti uses natural dyes, whereas Kina uses synthetic indigo to create her Devon Avenue Sampler series. The latter is different than what we normally cover in the Turkey Red Journal, but I found Kina's use of blue and her visual discussion of indigo history fascinating. The exhibition will run through April 2, 2013.

Jennifer Ratcliffe, who has been experimenting with natural dyes for the past 25 years, shares with us her adventures into growing and dyeing with weld, from plant to pot, using a variety of protein and cellulose fibers.

A number of the readers have asked me when I will be teaching dye classes. This April, I will be teaching a four-week natural dye class for both beginning and advanced dyers at the Chicago Botanic Garden (https://register.chicagobotanic.org/tickets/show.asp?shcode=1959). This class is beginning of a series of natural dye classes the CBG will be offering. Later this summer I will be in residency at Ox-Bow, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago campus in Michigan, teaching a week-long natural dye class (http://www.ox-bow.org/experience/courses/season/summer#a-study-in-natural-dyes-fiber-department). Ox-Bow is located in Saugatuck, Michigan, with access to five acres of prairie plants that we will experiment with. The class will be focusing on dyes that can be grown or harvested in Midwest, along with other historic dyes.

We have moved to an open submission policy for articles, artwork, exhibit notices and reviews for upcoming articles. We are interested in featuring dyers from around the world, so don't hesitate to submit your ideas for articles. Send your submissions to madder@comcast.net.

Back issues of the print version of the TRJ are still available for purchase. Contact me directly for further information. Please keep sending in your thoughts and suggestions. We appreciate all your comments.

If you are not currently on the TRJ new issue notification mailing list and would like to receive notification when the new issue is online, please send an email to madder@comcast.net. Your email address will not be shared with others.

As always, a special thanks to Bob Feldman for his help with editing and maintaining our website.

Pamela Feldman
Editor and Publisher