Exploring design options
My love of textiles began in a small town in Northwestern Illinois at a time when it was more economical to make your own clothes than to buy them in a store. My mother would take me along to visit Mrs. Holmberg, a Swedish dressmaker/tailor, just two blocks down the street with a basement studio filled with bolts and bolts of elegant fabrics. With Mrs. Holmberg’s mentoring, my mother’s sewing skills grew from the yellow seersucker matching shirts our family of five wore on a trip to Florida to prom dresses and suit jackets for my father. I followed in my mother’s footsteps creating my own wardrobe for my first real job in a Congressional office in Washington, DC into the early years of parenthood smocking dresses and shirts for my two children.
With this instilled desire to create, my interest evolved into a need to design the fabric itself. I began to learn about fabric design through a class with Don Weiner, former head chemist at PRO Chemical and Dye. My exploration of dyeing fabric led me to shibori, a traditional Japanese resist dye technique. I was eager to understand the process behind these interesting patterns and textures.
Arashi shibori and its tiny pleats fascinated me the most. The Japanese word “arashi” means “storm” and its diagonal pattern suggests a heavy driven rain storm. In Japan, male artisans wrap a kimono length piece of silk on the diagonal around a long horizontal polished wooden pole. The pole is turned as string is tightly wrapped around the length and the fabric is scrunched to one end, forming small pleats. The fabric between the tightly packed pleats resists the dye. Allowed to dry on the pole after dyeing, resilient pleats are formed which can either be ironed out or left for their texture. Contemporary artists use PVC plumbing pipe as a base for wrapping the fabric.
Nui shibori techniques create texture and pattern with a needle, thread, and rows of simple running stitches pulled up into gathers which act to resist the dye. A third technique, itajime shibori, involves accordion folding the fabric, placing wooden or metal shapes on either side of the bundle, and securing with clamps before placing it in the dye. I dye yards of white silk and cottons using these processes to create scarves, garments, costumes and wall art. Opportunities to study textile arts in Japan, Mexico, Chili, China, Europe and Russia fuel my inspiration for color and design in my work.
As both an artist and educator, my focus continues to be traditional Japanese shibori combined with a contemporary color sense. Endless possibilities and experiments offer one-of-a-kind, never to be replicated results. It is often those unexpected results that dictate a change of direction in the final design.
To learn more about Candace and her work visit:
Or visit her and her work at Fiberworks Studio #14, Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, VA.