Helena contacted us a while ago because she wants to share her talents with the community. We are hosting her first indigo shibori dyeing workshop on February 23rd at the stunning Bay & Bush Cottages in Woollamia, a stone's thrown from Huskisson, in the heart of Jervis Bay. We took some time to get to know renowned yet discreet Fibre Artist Helena a bit more ahead of this wonderful experience.
Tell us a bit about you!
I grew up in the inner city and absolutely loved it.
I still miss the harbour and the city lights the restaurants and the opera house, the diversity and things to do. But having said all that, in 2016 we decided it was time to pack up and head south.
We traded plane noise, traffic chaos, crowds plus all the good things for a cleaner and simpler lifestyle. Jervis bay was always our first stop for weekends away. We would head straight to Booderee National Park for the day and stay overnight in Huskisson. We fell in love with this area many years ago and it still hasn’t lost its magic.
I have family in Moruya so it’s fantastic to be able to spend time with them more often.
How did your creative journey start?
I started with Batik & Tie Dye in my early 20’s experimenting with dyes and fabrics. I hand dyed & batiked clothing and t-shirts selling them at Balmain markets. I especially loved Batik. I began creating Indigenous designs on cotton and stretching these large artworks over frames.
I received an arts culture grant which then helped to buy all types of fabrics, silks and cottons and experiment further. When I first started exhibiting my Batiks it was scary even the thought of showing anyone else my work was daunting. But if it’s something you love, close your eyes and just start, you never know where your journey will take you!
What attracted you to textiles in particular?
Working in the textile and décor industry I developed an appreciation for how fabrics are made, the structure of the weaves and their applications. I love all textiles, woven, printed, dyed and the application of the design process through to the tactile nature of fabrics. I can never toss out even the smallest fragment of fabric.
Fabric plays an essential part in our everyday lives, look around you, what are you wearing, where does that fabric come from, who made it, who designed the pattern. Your cushions, upholstery, bedlinen, every piece of fabric has a history.
What about shibori, what do you love about it?
Shibori and Indigo dyeing is so easy to get addicted too. Indigo dye is especially beautiful the way it appears on the fabric in stages from green to blue as it oxidisers creating layers of varying shades of blue. It’s very easy to work with and you can be never disappointed. You can also practice styles & techniques to create a particular design or random patterning. I love starting with an idea and then visualising the process to recreate it by tying or making knots and folding it in various ways. The idea can be something as simple as rock pools or pebbles.
Shibori is all about enjoying the journey and allows you the freedom to create something special by letting go of all expectations and being in the moment, experiencing the excitement of unravelling your work knowing that each piece will never be the same, it is always uniquely yours.
What else do you like creating and what other hobbies do you have?
I love weaving and have been teaching myself to weave a mat using natural raffia.
It’s very time consuming and has given me an appreciation for all those wonderful weavers out there. Someday I’ll take a workshop as I’d love to learn the traditional way using natural grasses.
I have a friend who makes the most gorgeous eco dyed scarves on wool, silks & cottons and tells me how easy it is. I have dabbled a little with onion skins, avocado stones, leaves and have several books on the subject, there is really a lot to learn.
Learning these things are next on my list.
What do you hope participants get out of the workshop?
I hope they have fun and enjoy the process, from learning how to mix an indigo vat to experimenting and creating their own special fabrics. It’s all about coming together sharing knowledge and ideas, we all learn from each other. I hope they experience the enjoyment of creating something new and perhaps take it a step further to share skills and keep creating.
The February workshop is sold us, contact us for additional dates or let us organise a private party just for you!