For over 20 years, I have been self-employed, crafting silk scarves and shawls using shibori techniques. In 2011, I began experimenting with various styles of women's clothing from fabric I dye, mostly using itajime shibori, a technique where designs are created by dyeing the fabric while it is folded and clamped between tiles, wood blocks, or other shaped objects. Each article of clothing is individually dyed, either before or after construction. As I start this endeavor, I am doing all of my own sewing, as well as the designing and dyeing.
Over the years I have discovered that there are two over-arching themes that appeal to me as an artist: repetition and evidence of change. I find myself drawn to both of these in nature: sand on a beach, repetitive in its own shapes, created by relentless, pounding, continuous waves, the ripples in the sand leaving evidence of the waves. I am fascinated by subtle marks that suggest something else that is there or has been there—shadows, rubbings, mono-prints, the ripples in the sand. I am also fascinated by fractals in nature, repetition on different scales, often caused by growth and change.
Textiles often have a repetitive quality, whether in the weaving or on the surface; and the Japanese technique of shibori adds further complexity by offering subtle glimpses of the process itself—what was once there. For this technique, fabric is bound into a shape (bound with thread, stitched, clamped, or pole-wrapped) and then dyed. The fabric is then unbound. Because the binding prevented the dye from entering some areas, you are left with a visual record of the process.
While my inspirations and process allow me to approach my work as art, I am a firm proponent of sewing as a craft. One of my goals in making clothing is to highlight how little sewing is valued as a craft. It is has gone the way of many things, being mostly done by cheap, foreign labor. It is something most Americans, rich or poor, would rather not do, indeed are incapable of doing. I am saddened by the loss of this craft and the self-reliance that it offers.
Creating and selling shibori has been my livelihood for 20 years. I have a BFA in Fiber Art from the University of Washington. I work in my home studio with some physical assistance and much encouragement from my husband, Allen Olson. We live in Olympia, WA with our two sons where we enjoy cooking, our garden, and a relatively slow-paced lifestyle.