Bryan Whitehead’s Indigo Workshops, Brisbane, July 2017

Queensland Quilters is hosting 2 workshops with Bryan Whitehead: 22-23 July,  and 24-25 July in Brisbane – Indigo,  stencils and rice paste.

The workshops will be held at the Lavalla Centre, 58 Fernberg Rd, Paddington.

Workshop Description: “Indigo” with Bryan Whitehead
Size: fabric for a quilt approx. 210cm x 210cm (82″ x 82″) will be dyed.
This wonderful class will begin with an introduction to the stencil history of Japan, with many samples of old stencils and

antique indigo dyed pieces being shown and discussed. The process to cut masks in different shapes to make interesting blocks for quilts will be explained and then you will make masks and apply them to your fabric. Indigo vats will be set up during which Bryan will explain the background to making an indigo vat. Your pasted stencil cloth will be dyed and the patterns revealed when the paste is removed. You will also dye different shades of solid blue, to use in your quilt designs. Ideas of how to use your cloth designs in a quilt will be exchanged. This class is suitable for all skill levels.

The images below show Bryan making the paper for the stencils, cutting a stencil, drawing the rice paste through the stencil, so that the fabric is ready to dip in the indigo vat. The stencil paper, shibugami, is several sheets of handmade paper laminated together with persimmon juice.

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Bryan has been growing his own indigo for many years. He processes the plant into fermented sukumo balls and then ferments the indigo in traditional Japanese ceramic indigo vats.  He has a huge collection of antique katagami stencils and is well versed in all aspects of stencil dyeing katazome. Brian will share his experience in  a trunk show of Japanese stencils and textiles.  Participants will have the opportunity to design, cut and use their own stencils.

From Bryan: a brief outline of the program I will be teaching in Adelaide and Brisbane:

I plan to bring a dozen or so antique 19th century Japanese katagami stencils with me. We will use these to dye cotton material in indigo to be used as quilting material. I will bring blank stencil paper for the participants to carve a mask shape to individualize the patterns. 

I will make three hydro sulphite indigo vats for the participants to use.

In the classroom I will need work tables for each participant to sit comfortably at. 

The workshops will start with an introduction to the stencil history in Japan with many samples of the old stencils as well as antique indigo dyed pieces.

This is a two hour talk/trunk show. If you have a projector that I can hook up to my iPad….we will definitely have a projector!

We will discuss how the resist paste is made, I will send the paste ahead in the post to make sure it will make it through customs. (It is rice based.) I will supply a recipe for students to make their own paste but we will not have time to make it ourselves.

I will explain the process we will go through to cut masks in different shapes to make interesting blocks for the quilts.

We will cut the masks and start pasting for several hours. We will need clothes lines inside or outside in the sun to hang the pasted material to dry.

A quilt needs some solid colours to use in the design. 

We all set up the indigo vats and I will give background on indigo vat making. 

Different shades of solid blues will  be dyed.

The pasted stencil dyed cloth will be dyed.

The paste will be removed and the patterns revealed. 

The class will be tidied up and the individual cloth designs examined by everyone and how to use them in a quilt ideas exchanged.

The project is to dye enough material to make a quilt (one-sided) one meter by one and a half meters.

The class will cover:
• What is indigo? Characteristics of Japanese indigo vs woad and SE Asian indigo.
• How indigo was used in Japan.
• Shibori, stripes, stencil dyeing with samples and about kimono.
• Old stencils.
• How they are cut/punched
• History of stencils in Ise.
• Look at some photos of a Japanese Living National Treasure stencil dyer’s work.
Each participant will be stenciling and dyeing 2 metres of fabric for a quilt.
After discussion of how much stenciled fabric you want in your quilt and how much plain dyed fabric for borders; you will have two choices – either:
– 50% stencil patterns 50% solid. (Determine the depth of the blue and how many shades you want by themselves.) or
– 75% stencil 25% solid. (Determine the depth of the blue and how many shades you want by themselves.)
3 indigo vats will be made on the first day and the plain blue fabrics dyed on the first afternoon.

The remainder of the time will be spent designing and cutting stencils, stenciling with rice paste onto your fabric, dyeing the fabric, then removing the paste to reveal the patterns; discussion about your dyed pieces of cloth and suggestions of how to use them in a quilt.

Both Workshops are now full!

If you wish to put your name on a Wait List, please email Lyn Kenny on qa@qldquilters.com


February’s Workshop – Lovely Leaves with Bernadine Hine

Lovely Leaves – “Free motion experience required”

This 2 day workshop is for those who already have free motion skills and are wanting to get their teeth into a creative project. Participants will firstly learn how to draw their own leaves plus the basic construction method along with all sorts of variations. Students will then learn to create elements using water soluble stabiliser and create other elements that you might find laying about on the forest floor.”

I didn’t read the bit about free motion experience required.
It didn’t matter. Bernadine’s teaching style is so relaxed and encouraging, that we were all free motion stitching in no time at all.

It was initially quite a challenging experience! We first had to sketch the various leaves that we picked in our home gardens before coming to class. It was easier with each new leaf we sketched. Then we outlined the leaves in black Sharpie and simplified them ready for stitching.

Next to the exciting bit! Hoop up fabric, add the raw edge applique leaves and get stitching.

Free motion stitching is so liberating! So much fun! You can use all kinds of thread – cotton, quilting thread, rayon, polyester, variegated! Couch threads for the central veins for a lovely effect!

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Sunday saw us continuing to stitch our leaves; free motion embroidering skeleton leaves, moss, lichen, and fern for the forest floor; planning the composition of our quilts.

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Bernadine shared a preview of her new work with us!

These embroideries are for sale at Seaview Art Gallery, Moffatt Beach, Caloundra. More details on Bernadine’s website.
They are absolutely exquisite and certainly rival the embroideries of Alison Holt.
Bernadine’s workshop “Lovely Leaves” was a wonderful experience. I would not hesitate to attend another of Bernadine’s workshops!


February’s Speaker – Rebecca Staunton-Coffey – Journey of an Art Quilter

Like many art quilters, Rebecca comes from a very creative background. Her grandmothers were both textile people – a milliner and a tailoress who also made show winning dolls and doll clothes. Her mother was an oil painter who sewed the childrens’ clothes and later, discovered quilting particularly Hawaiian quilting. One of Rebecca’s early memories is her love of Cowboys and Indians particularly native American Indians and her mother made her an Indian suit out of calico way back in 1960, which she dyed with strong coffee.

Rebecca became interested in creative embroidery when she moved to Armidale in NSW and did a summer school at the UNE in 1979. She was later invited to join a quilt group by the late Barbara Meredith and made cot quilts for her children and friends.

She returned to full time work in 1986 and had a corporate career for the next 20 plus years. He husband was appointed to a senior position in Wellington NZ in 2006 and she went over to live there not knowing a soul.

Her Journey
Rebecca joined Pinestream Quilters in Upper Hutt and became a Committee Member for several years. She also completed her City and Guilds in Patchwork and Quilting online from England with Laura and Linda Kemshall. It was an 2 year online course, teaching design elements, basic dyeing, paint sticks, quilting, patchwork, foiling etc

In 2007, she attended a masterclass with Joan Schulz and the work from the class in NZ and the Australian one Joan ran were exhibited at the TAFTA Gallery in the Gap. The theme was Fans. Joan taught how to use fabrics other than cotton and image transferring onto cloth.

She also did a five day course with Heide Stolle Weber from Germany on Procion fabric dyeing, which provided her with a massive dye sample book to refer to.

Rebecca also studied mixed media at night at NZ’s Community College, which resulted in her being asked to join two art quilting groups – Cre8 and 8 by 8(3 Squared).

She had the wonderful opportunity to attend workshops, twice, with NANCY CROW from USA. Nancy is a legend – she is now 72 but has an amazing energy and a very critical eye.

Nancy began doing her free type patchwork in the 1980s and 1990s and has held many exhibitions at Art Galleries in the USA and beyond. She founded Quilt National USA in 1979 , which continues as one of the supreme biannual Quilt Exhibitions. She taught many of the modern day quilt movement quilters like Denise Smythe, Jean Wells and Lisa Call.
In total, Rebecca spent 5 weeks with Nancy Crow in 2011 and 2013. Nancy’s method of teaching is to get you to hand write the notes of the day which contain a series of Design Exercises with dimensions (e.g. 60in by 40in) and colour rules. Nancy wont let you use a ruler – her workshops are about design. Nancy teaches design, design, design, the wonders of colour relationships, using solids, free cutting and rules to create a piece e.g use three greys, three tans and two colours. Nancy sees art as a process of discovery and not knowing ahead of time exactly what you are making. She emphasises composition and proportions. Nancy’s courses are exciting and a real stretch.

Rebecca returned to Australia in 2013. She attended the Quilt Symposium 2013 in Lake Taupo and took a class with Gwen Marston from USA, once again required to piece without a ruler! She continues as a member of her New Zealand art quilt groups.

The 8 by 8 group have set themselves various challenges beginning with two journal quilt series. These quilts have been exhibited in the New Zealand Parliamentary Gallery and EXPRESSIONS Gallery Upper Hutt.
These quilts are 12 by 15 inches and they made one every two months and everyone’s was different. Rebecca posted hers to New Zealand for the Reveals. Topics included sea, churches, bridges, and 8 based on colours – 16 quilts in all.

Last year the quilts were inspired by a poem by the Poet Lauriate of Wisconsin. Her poem included references to nature so Rebecca’s work centred around flowers. These will be exhibited at EXPRESSIONS Gallery in June/July this year.
Cre8 had a very successful exhibition at the HUTT ART CENTRE at Lower Hutt Wellington in June/July last year, with another Exhibition booked for next year.

On returning to Brisbane in 2013 Rebecca met up again with Chris Harvey and Jen Young who encouraged her to join Queensland Quilters. She also met Ali George, who encouraged her in her art quilting, fabric dyeing and print making. With Ali, she has run some workshops at Craft Shows in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.

In 2015 she was asked to join Broadstrokes Art Group. The expanded membership now includes Sue Dennis, Chris Jones, Jane Rundle, Ali, Merody, Kathryn, Mel, Suzanne and Rebecca. Broadstrokes successfully presented a group exhibition in Taiwan last year with some other Art Quilters and details and photographs of the quilts was included in the Qld Quilters magazine last year. Since Taiwan this exhibition has been traveling and has been exhibited at Brisbane Craft and Quilt Show, Wellington NZ, Adelaide and soon in Hobart.
Rebecca’s current challenge is to complete a Textile Degree accredited by the University of the Creative Arts in the United Kingdom – a distance course that requires her to send work to the UK for assessment. She is learning to be more adventurous and to extend her textile practice. At the moment she is making experimental yarns using string, thread, seaglass, wire, feathers etc. She then has to incorporate these into a simple textile piece.

She has also entered Brenda Gael Smith’s Weekly Art Project for 2017 and Year of Stitches 2017 and finds that the weekly challenge is great for overcoming procrastination!

It was wonderful to hear Rebecca’s journey and to see her inspiring quilts. You can follow Rebecca’s blog to see more of her art pieces.