Winding down a crazy year with a final studio update.  I thank you for following and look forward to the possibility of seeing you in the new year! K.C.


I’ve been busy with several strands of work since the year began.  Each have, in their own way, been integral to my overall practice.  Some of them will continue to be so.  Here are the highlights:

Natural Dyes. In keeping with my work earlier this year as well as in previous years, I continue my deepening understanding of natural dyes and their applications.  In recent months, I have worked in a more focused way with yellow and brown tannins (Cutch and Pomegrante primarily).  By blending these tannins with Indigo, and shifting them with iron, a surprisingly wide range of surface design possibilities exist.  You can see some of my recent results with Pomegranate rind in my Instagram/FB feed.

Pomegranate Direct Application
Tannin/Indigo/Ferrous Modules
A “Receptive” Vessel In-Progress

Stitching.  The work I have been doing with stitching has proved to be incredibly beneficial as a centering practice, as calming as it is creatively stimulating.  I recently posted on a diptych I created for the 2020 Hambidge Auction.  These stitched works began as modules for a natural dye sampler quilt. As I began to stitch more frequently, I realized that their creation offered space and time for intentional grounding. To that extent, the modules have become elements of a personal time capsule – part of the narrative work that will mark my pandemic experience. As both singularities and parts of a larger composite, they tell me a story of an effort to find some sort of stability in a very unstable, uncertain time. Hand stitching, especially the running stitch, can be deeply spiritual in its repetitive, focused, quiet rhythms.  I have found in “stitch space” a calm refuge – necessary more than ever right now.

Artwork: 3-D.  I have also begun building 3-dimensional “containers” or “vessels” which I am collectively calling “Receptive”.  They are slow-going and emerge when the time is right.  2-D – My work with Black Walnut Hull and other inks continues, as does my work with enhanced monoprints. I will have more to say about these streams of work in the future. 

And finally…Petal-Una Collection.  Petal continues to be a destination for much of the naturally dyed/painted/printed cloth I produce in the studio. While it has been a slow year, I still managed to pull together a diverse collection. The images below include Cutch, iron-modified Cutch, and Indigo-dyed pieces.  I am already brimming with enthusiasm and possibility for the 2021 collection! Visit Petal-Una Collection.

Petal-Una Collection – Part of the Fall 2020 Group

My personal response to this unusual time in history has been varied, moving from a fear-based emotional roller-coaster ride to an increasingly calm, pragmatic, and emotionally sustainable progression, punctuated by moments of true equanimity.  It is the uncertainty that gnaws the most, but more reason to come to accept and befriend it.  In addition to staying as connected as I can, my solution is to continue my work with as clear an intention as possible, staying the course.  So, although shows and other events have canceled, the work continues.  Here are some of the highlights so far this year:

The Sampler Quilt

I continue to print, paint and otherwise employ natural dyes in a variety of ways and use the by-products of that work to various ends.  When I work with any dye class, I tend to have a lot of bits available for piecing.  I am now deliberately creating pieces of cloth specifically for a sampler quilt, which I hope to have completed in the Fall of 2020.  This may be ambitious but I am weekly working toward the goal.  So far, I have 2 sets of modules either completed or being stitched (and appliquéd), one in Cochineal & Logwood; one in Cochineal, Logwood and Madder.  Next up: Weld, Myrobalan and Pomegranate (alone and with Indigo). I am posting these results regularly on IG (@kathycoltartisan) and FB, and will certainly show the quilt as it grows.

Petal-Una Collection 

My artisan apparel project progresses.  I am determined to keep all lines of inquiry open in the studio and wearable work continues to offer opportunities for exploration and cross-fertilization. I’m also currently working on my web shop and exploring other means of sharing this work in the absence of my regular seasonal studio sales. If you’re interested in learning more about this work, follow this link.

New Art

I developed a curious aversion to “nuno” felting during my cancer experience.  Perhaps the end of that line of work was looming anyway. In any case, now that I am in thrive mode (getting busy livin’), I am finally liberated from that particular prison of the mind, and have begun to reengage – not with felting per se – but with the ideas I was exploring through felting.  This hiatus (and who knows how long it will last) has allowed me to incorporate new materials, forms, ideas and motivations, as well as explore the intersection between my chosen media and other non-fiber media.  There is much more to come here.  My eyes are wide open.

Workshops 

Before the “stuff” hit the fan, I was able to facilitate a workshop and also record further reflections on Indigo.  Late last year, I had scheduled a workshop on direct application (painting/printing) with natural dyes.  That was supposed to take place in late-June.  It was, of course, canceled.  Unfortunately, I have not yet found a way to convey this work on a digital platform without taking an inordinate amount of time from my studio activities, so that will have to steep some more.  Perhaps all will be revealed in the coming months.  Meanwhile, there is much to do elsewhere and I will still look forward to the time when we are able to gather again in a live workshop setting.  (I trust this day will come again one day.)

Finally, It is an odd set of circumstances that leads us all to where we are at this moment.  Life is short.  There is much to do but still time to rest and receive.  I am therefore grateful to my yoga teacher Uma Devi and her Guru, Swami Jaya Devi, at Kashi Atlanta, as well as Dunya McPherson and her work, DanceMeditation.  Thanks to live-stream and the ubiquitous Zoom meeting, I have been able to reincorporate these vital movement pathways into my life.  This has been a great gift in these times.  Keep working on cultivating/activating those blissful moments in the studio, in your work, on the mat… and carry them into your lives as fully and as often as you can!

It has been a full month since my last post. Teaching/facilitating technique through one-on-one, small and large group gatherings has become a more regular feature of my weekly activity list. Among other things, Indigo has figured prominently in this work. As noted elsewhere, I have also increasingly incorporated other natural dyes into my creative practice and will be facilitating another workshop this July at the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance. See the sidebar for the link.

I have had three opportunities to share the indigo experience this year so far. One I mentioned in my last post. The two most recent were quite contrasting experiences: In one case, I worked with pre-reduced indigo serving 80+ participants during a “Family Fun Day” at the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta; in the other, I facilitated a gathering of two at my home studio, where we worked with resist paste and an organic indigo vat. Both events were inspiring, energizing and life-affirming. Here are some images:

From the Carlos Museum/Indigo on the Quad:

From the Organic Indigo Vat workshop:

Things have been quite busy in the studio and I realize I have not posted since November of 2018!  (Again, best laid plans – I am beginning to see pattern here (wince)!)  However, after this little update, I have some natural dye reflections I initiated back in March and never got around to publishing, among other things.  As “archaic” as this format sometimes seems, it still has relevance across the spectrum. For me, it serves a real purpose, which I had lost track of for a spell but now reclaim: writing as process-witness.

My practice continues to evolve.  Two full years after a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, I never thought I would find myself in a hopeful place around my studio work…but I do again.  I finally found my way back to the heart of the work, to my true flow, and that feels pretty fabulous.  The work begins to look and feel different to me although clearly on the continuum of a process begun so many years ago.  And while I have never been one to rest too long on one technique – I am sure that is my Aries nature – I am still working with cloth and fiber because there is still so much there to explore!     

So, before I resume essay-esque pursuits, I thought I might just provide an update for the record – a brief flashback to the first several months of 2019 as a way of clearing the way for whatever is to come. 

January: Lots of natural dye experimentation – mostly direct application and immersion variations with indigo, madder, tannins and ferrous after-baths.  Began working on my new wearable collection for the April open studio.   I also began experimenting with alternate hand-stitch processes which have now been incorporated into some of my wearable work.  In the midst of the studio experimentation, I was immersed in preparations for a presentation on Sustainable Making at the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance.

February:  I continued working with natural dyes, mostly direct application with gum thickeners, exploring layering of color and assistants in various floating (unregistered) patterns on a wide range of cloth surfaces.  The process of working with natural dyes is much more labor- and time-intensive than working with their synthetic alternatives and because of this, the work feels almost contemplative.  I want to explore this entire complex topic in future posts.  But for now, suffice it to say that natural dye print processes are now a solid part of my studio practice.  Also ever-present now is my organic indigo vat, and I did get around to making some new pieces for a local craft pop-up and the first installment of the 2019 wearables.

March 2019:   My time in March was largely spent preparing for the April open studio, although I did take some time to facilitate an indigo-dyeing mini-workshop at the studio one fortuitously-gorgeous Spring morning.  I also received my copy of The Art and Science of Natural Dyes (yay!) and reflected on my early exposure to natural dyes with Catharine Ellis which work has so thoroughly enriched my current studio practice.

In April – I hosted an open studio and continued to develop more work, including a new collection of totes, as well as naturally dyed cloth, and stitched appliqué detailing.   All of my wearable work is presented under the label Petal-una Collection.  This line has been an active focus of my creative energy since 2012.   If you want to learn more about it and see more looks follow this link.

All of which brings me to the present moment.  I will save that for next time!  Meanwhile for fairly regular and consistent check-ins, I am on Instagram and FB – the links are scattered throughout this website.   If you would prefer to keep up via this blog, that is awesome too!

Thank you for following along.