Spring Break 2021: Textile Artist. Building the Outdoor Studio

Carol LeBaron
2 min readMar 16, 2021
Building the outdoor studio

During Spring Break 2021, I spent several days pulling grapevines off the hill behind my dye shed. A few years ago, I got all these stones put down. In gravel parlance, it is called “rough pebble gravel”. Although I like the way it looks, it is there for function, not appearance, in the Bauhaus tradition of “form follows function”. When I dye, the water runs down into the stones and out the edge of the hill back into the earth. The dyes I use exhaust completely into the fabric. The only additives are water and vinegar, and I ensure that the ph is neutral before it is drained out of the pots.

This image shows the earth scraped bare of vines, just a few left in the foreground, waiting to be loaded into Rosie’s ( my truck) bed, transported up the hill, and relegated to the fire. This preparation work is meditative and satisfying, healthy in all three realms: physical, mental, and spiritual. At the end of a work day I always go home with a sense of accomplishment.

My life is a multidimensional stitch and dye tapestry. I use this metaphor because there are physical, mental and spiritual activities that all play a part in the creation of the work, as in my stitching a meaningful life step by step. The mending analogy is also apt. I have been studying and practicing the concept of boro, a Japanese textile repurposing that has been used since the fifteenth century to create everything from dishrags to firefighting gear. Firefighters would pull down timbers and create a fire break first rather than put a fire out with water. They wore thick layered stitched patched and stitched cotton coats and helmets(hanten or half wear), well soaked with water.(Susan Briscoe, The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook )

I imagine the seventeenth century Japanese farmer pulled out his share of vines from the land, too, wearing his boro coat. My equivalent is my overalls, patched at the knees.

boro stitched overall knee 2021

I am finally at the dye stage, however, and so you will find me tomorrow, not at the computer, but outside in the outside dye studio.

Carol LeBaron

If you would like to try contemplative stitching try www.carollebarondyes.com

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