Keeping an Open Mind

Isn't it funny how things just seem to appear exactly when you need them!  This morning I opened my email and there was a blog I follow from one of my fiber mentors and teachers; Catherine Ellis.

I took a workshop from Catherine a few years ago in Asheville, and this is where I was first introduced and fell in love with Indigo. Over the years I have taken several other Indigo and Natural Dyeing workshops and the one thing I have learned  is to "always keep an open mind."

Having an open mind means to be willing to receive new and different ideas, It also means to be flexible and adaptive. This is important whenever taking a new class. This is the beauty of taking new classes and workshops. Not only do you take away what the instructor teaches, but you also learn and take away from your fellow students. 

One of the things I love about working with fibers is my fellowship with other fiber artists. I love how everyone is so willing to share their knowledge. There is no right way or wrong way of doing things. Everyone has their own technique and maybe just by listening and keeping an open mind we are able to find an easier way to accomplish our goal.

One of my goals in establishing the Aya Fiber DYEHOUSE, is to create a gathering place for South Florida Fiber Artists. A place where we can all come together and share techniques and learn new skills. I am constantly learning new skills and wanting to pass them on to other artists. I am constantly meeting new artists who know more than I do and I hope they will come teach at the DYEHOUSE.  

This week, I leave for a 2 week "fiber study" at Arrowmont with Amy Putsanu and I am so excited ! I love teaching at the DYEHOUSE, but I also love learning. I am always wanting to learn new techniques, not only to pass on to my students , but in order to take my own work to new levels. When I leave here on Saturday, I will take off my "teacher-hat" and open my mind to absorb all I can.

In order to keep up we must be open to new experiences and new ways of looking at things. If we limit ourselves to just what we already know and what we are comfortable with we will never grow. After all, it is always easier if you know the outcome. The very thought of failure can be frightening. Just remember, there are no mistakes- our failures are a necessary part of growing and taking our work where we want it to go.

Only with an open mind, can we unleash our creativity. At this point, we need to let go of our preconceived notions of what is needed and move outside our comfort zones.  Here is where we dream, where we bounce our ideas off one another. Together we come up with a few promising things to try. Playfulness is key. So is boldness. Oh, and passion, too.

Release preconceptions. Play. Be bold and passionate. And then?

Then we  come home to our own studio practices and actually test and practice our new learned ideas and skills. Most of our ideas will not produce the results we anticipated. We are in new territory. This is the hardest part.  This is when we have to face the facts and share what we have learned. This is when we adjust what we have learned and this is when we try again! This is when we combine the old skills with the new and this is when we grow!

I can't wait!



Open House

We are having our Grand Opening Open House this Friday, June 12th from 5:00- 9:00 pm!

There will of course be food and drink (have I ever had an opening without??) Door prizes and lots of information for upcoming summer workshops. I may even have a vat and be able to give a demonstration for hand dyeing with indigo.

I guess it just makes everything official to have an "Opening". It is summer at The Fish House and our walk in traffic has been low so I may or may not have anyone attend, but I sure hope so! Some of the artists have left for vacation, but there are still alot of people going to the nearby waterfront restaurants. 

I'm not sure if many will attend, but just like having a party in your home forces you to get things done, having a party in the studio will force me to get things done too!  I made sure my summer workshop schedule is complete, ordered supplies for workshops, printed material to hand out. Now that this is all complete I can go to Arrowmont at the end of the month, focus on my workshop with Amy Putsanu and come back re-energized and full of great ideas!!!!!  I am so excited!

I've been in a "creative slump" for about 4 weeks now. My mother has been hospitalized and I have had several family issues tugging at me. There has been stress with my homeowners association and my home is in renovation nightmare. It's hard for me to be creative when my mind is so very cluttered. Going to Arrowmont will be a wonderful distraction from my life in Stuart, Florida. Did I mention, that I can't wait to leave!!!!!!

If you are out and about Port Salerno on Friday evening, PLEASE stop in and say hello, have a glass of wine and check out our summer workshops!  I will have a drawing for a FREE workshop .

Hope to see you!


Aya fiber Studio DyeHouse and Class Studio Coming soon

There are changes coming for the Aya Fiber Studio space at The Fish House Art Center and I am so excited about them that I can hardly wait!

Everyone who knows me , knows that I had my dream studio in North Carolina. Leaving my Saxapahaw Studio was hard enough, but having to put 60% of my studio contents into storage here in Florida was terrible. Even though I did not create art on a daily basis there, I still managed to stockpile and hoard fiber materials. Now that I am in creative mode, I am always thinking about all the items and equipment that have been stored and what I can do with them. Trying to find things stored in boxes stacked on top of each other in a dark storage locker is almost impossible.

Finally everything will be taken out of storage and into a new space of the studio  that I am calling The Aya Fiber Studio Dyehouse.  The Dyehouse will be mostly for wet space.  Plenty of sink space and a washing machine just for rinsing dyed materials.  I have plenty of equipment that I am no longer using and I plan to "share" it with other fiber artists who might just want to try it out before making the investment on their own. The space will be available for rent by the hour, the day or the week.

We will have hot plates, pots, stirring tools, sinks and clothesline for dyeing fabrics. A steamer for steaming acid dyes.  There will be a dedicated washing machine for rinsing your fabric.  You can make a mess here and not worry about getting dye in your kitchen or home machine. We will have cutting tables, sewing machines, ironing area, a serger and dress form for designing art-to-wear or laying out quilts. There will be a research library and a computer- also wi-fi if you want to bring your  own laptop and a nice outdoor area to sit and relax. There will also be some specialized weaving and tapestry equipment available for rent. Artists may use the space to create only, this is not a place to sell your work!

The space is open and airy and sits right on The Manatee Pocket waterfront in  the historic Port Salerno fishing village. We will have great music playing and a waterfront view! It doesn't get much better than this! We will be offering an expanded selection of classes and workshops in several different areas of fiber and textiles. I am hoping that in the not to far future, I can invite many of my fiber friends and teachers from North Carolina to teach and share their  vast knowledge of textiles and fiberarts with us. ( Marbling, Silk painting, Screen Printing, Natural Dyeing,Eco-Dyeing, Organic Dyeing, Felting and Joom-chi and Sewing) There will be classes in all levels, from beginner to experienced fiber artists who want to hone their skills .

This is exciting!  When I left the Art Gallery business, I had no idea what I was going to do or how I was going to do it. Little by little things just fell into place and by going back to doing what I love doing, I was able to reinvent myself. Closing the gallery left a huge hole that I didn't think I would ever fill. I love sharing my craft with people and teaching them new skills. I love being around other fiber artists.  Stay tuned for more information as this exciting studio space unfolds! If there is anything you might want to learn or if you are someone who might want to teach a class,  please let me know!

Visit my new Etsy Store!

I finally broke down and spent the time to open an Etsy Store. Please visit my store at

I am excited about this new opportunity to get my work out there. It is alot of work and I have not quite ironed out all of the kinks, but I do honestly think it will be worth it once I get a bit better organized. It has only been a few weeks and I have just made my 1st Etsy sale. It was nice going to bed and waking up to a message saying something had sold

1st of all you have to list all the items- one by one. And good listings must have GREAT images, I am still working on this. After all ; "PRESENTATION is EVERYTHING!" Then there is the situation of having items on the Etsy store, on this website and also for sale in the studio. I must be sure to deactivate my listings if somebody carries an item out of the Studio door.

But I think I am getting better at writing my descriptions. I am getting better at posting my images and writing complete descriptions. This has always been difficult for me to do, but I am getting better and I keep going back and editing my listings. Sometimes a "nice" customer will send a question and jar my mind- 

Season in Florida is typically from October- Easter. The weather up north has been pretty cold so far and I can really tell the "snowbirds" are arriving. Restaurants have a bit of a wait and just last week my 20 minute trip to JoAnne Fabrics took me 45 minutes there and an hour coming back. 

The Studio is getting busier and busier and it is becoming a juggling act to get things dyed and made into products. Baby steps!  This being the artist is all new to me, as a gallery owner I did not have to create the work and market it. Baby steps!

Anyway, I just want to invite everyone to take a peek at the Etsy Store- Please feel free to send me some feedback or ask questions about items that I might not have thought of. also feel free to pick up a little something, Christmas is alot closer than we think!

Sashiko Stitching- back to the beginning!

I have been adding sashiko stitching to many of my new pieces and I love the way it looks!

Sashiko is an elegant and simple stitch that dates back to the 1600's.

The simplest stitch in sewing — the running stitch — is also the most versatile. This was my first lesson in needle and thread, this practical technique can lend a stylish touch to almost any textile in your home. All it takes is a little imagination. I think the addition of this stitch really adds a "handmade" quality to my work.

Many have asked why do I spend so much time stitching the fabric,  then dyeing the fabric, then removing the stitching only to go back and add more stitching when I am finished. By combining threads and fabrics in a variety of colors and textures, experimenting with the scale of the stitches, and playing with their spacing, you can create an array of effects and add an entire layer of new design to the fabric.  It is just another little signature item that I hope people will appreciate.

Currently I have only been using sashiko to outline my table runners, but now that I have discovered that by drawing my designs onto a lightweight fusible interfacing before ironing onto my fabric, I can stitch anything I want. I can design my own contemporary patterns or use traditional Japanese patterns.  

I am also loving the way my fabrics look after stitching and before the dye process-  I love the textured effects I am seeing. I just purchased a great book called The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff. I am visioning new tucks and pleats and shirring and gathering in my new work to add the textural detail I love. many of my old seamstress techniques coming back as an art form. I can't wait to experiment!

Linen Bags

My linen bags have been very popular!  It seems like I cannot create them fast enough. In my fabric session this week I made several bag designs and this morning I received an email that more leather handles are on their way; looks like it is time to get sewing!

the bags are lovely! 

The outside of the bag is hand dyed indigo using Linen Fabric. Each bag is a one of a kind!  Even by producing the same design, the bags are always different. Different fabrics take the color differently and I never know exactly how a design will look until I unwrap the shibori. 

The interior of the bag is also hand dyed Indigo, but for the interior I use a heavy cotton duck fabric. All seams are double stitched. the bag bottom is encased in a washable pillow case made from a contrasting shibori design. There is a large pocket also made from a contrasting shibori design.

I have been experimenting with the oatmeal linen color; I think the indigo is beautiful when paired with this natural color and looks even more luxurious when accented with metallic linen. For zipper pouches; exposed nickel zippers are featured and larger bags have leather handles.

Both bags are finished with a hand-sewn Aya label inside.

Wouldn't a bag make a great gift?  why not pre-order and have one made to your specifications. The bags page shows several of my designs and I will be adding new designs this week.

Linen Bags sell for $140 and zipper pouches for $59

New Fabrics

This has been a busy week! 

I spent most of last week getting fabrics ready for the indigo vat and I have spent the last 3 days creating beautiful blue fabrics using several shibori techniques.

I used Tied -resist designs:Me-maki shibori is one of the simplest forms of tied resist where the thread is used to pattern the cloth. Marbles, clothes pins and rocks make great patterns.

The Honeycomb pattern is not strictly traditional shibori, but the fabric that results has a three dimensional effect with a graduated dyed effect.

I also attempted several Stitched-resist designs.

Mokume shibori is one of my favorites. It is time consuming but I love the wood grain effect. I used alot of Ori-nui shibori. This is a running stitch. You can fold a single fold or a double fold. the double fold will create a pattern some call horses teeth. I also tried Mak-nui shibori, or oversewn stitching; I drew images of a starfish and a conch shell and used the Maki-nui design to create images on my cloth.

A few weeks ago, I ordered a DVD by an Lisa Hedstrom called STITCH RESIST RECONSIDERED. This was a great DVD and I am anxious to order the companion DVD on Arashi Shibori. In this video Ana Lisa demonstrates hand stitching methods and techniques to create different designs on cloth. In the 2nd video, she demonstrated using the sewing machine to produce a more contemporary stitch resist. I made 2 different piece using this machine technique, one on cotton and the other on linen. It was very interesting how the different fabrics reacted to the process and the way the dyes took to each.

In the studio, I have been adding metallic linen to some of my new pieces; now that the fabrics have all been dyed, washed and ironed it is time to play. Now it is time to create new items for holiday inventory! I have new ideas for Bags and Accessories, some fabulous art-to-wear ideas, new linen ordered for duvet covers, table runners and napkins. down pillow inserts are waiting to be covered.  time to create!

Shibori as Art

Shibori as Art”

“Shibori as Art”

Excerpt from an essay by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada
President, World Shibori Network
Opening Address, 8ISS Hong Kong 2011


There is no equivalent in English for the Japanese wordshibori.

It comes from the Japanese verb root shiboru, “to wring, squeeze, press.” The closest translation would be “shaped-resist dyeing.” The shaping process reserves areas that are recorded as patterns with characteristically soft edges and crinkled textures when cloth is dyed. Rather than treating cloth as a two-dimensional flat surface, shibori techniques give it a three-dimensional form by folding, crumpling, stitching, plaiting, or plucking and twisting. Cloth may be drawn up and bound, stitched and gathered, pleated and bound, folded and clamped between boards, or wrapped around a pole then pushed along it to compress the fabric into folds. Further, a cloth may be dyed repeatedly using a different shaping method each time.

When the cloth is returned to its two-dimensional form after dyeing, the design that emerges is the result of the three-dimensional shape, the type of resist, and the amount of pressure from the thread or clamp that secured the shape during the cloth’s exposure to the dye. The cloth sensitively records both the form and the pressure; the “memory” of the shape remains imprinted in the cloth.


In the early 1990s, as we entered the last decade of the millenium, some of the younger generation producers and artisans of shibori were faced with the reality that this centuries-old technique — the source of their livelihood — may not survive into the next millenium. So they decided to preserve it by promoting shibori textiles inside and outside Japan. This led to the First International Shibori Symposium in Nagoya (1992) and the subsequent formation of the World Shibori Network, which initiated collaborative development with fashion designers.

Today, the term shibori is accepted vocabulary in the international language of textiles. Its popularization owes a lot to the book, Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing (first published in 1983), which I co-authored with two former students, Mary Kellogg Rice and Jane Barton. Teaching and exhibitions by artists internationally have propelled the term and its underlying concept into accepted textile usage.


With the knowledge of ancient skills and the respect for the innovations of their forebears, contemporary artists, designers, and artisans around the world are revitalizing their shared cultural heritage. In this time of amazing technological developments and an increasingly pervasive information network, the tactile quality of textile becomes that much more essential. Like other forms of textile expression, shibori will survive and even thrive as long as artists continue to search for the creative possibilities in combining high-tech with handwork. In the 21st century, we need technology to serve human needs—finding ways to conserve and replenish limited resources and using them more wisely and efficiently.


The spontaneity, mystery, and the serendipitous effects of shibori continue to inspire new generations of artists and designers all over the world. They manipulate cloth and record the process by exposing it to dye and chemicals. They explore shibori in fashion applications, artistic painterly expressions, conceptual and sculptural statements, and architectural and industrial designs.

The enduring popularity of shibori patterning indicates the high value consumers place on directly experiencing the artful interaction of human hand with fabric and dye. The creative processes recorded in shibori since ancient times will inspire the continued blossoming of textile art.


Sewing as an Art

I have always sewn. I grew up in a home with a sewing machine and I still own that machine; A Singer 401A. My mother told me that she bought that machine when my brother Randy was 2 so she could make him a clown costume for halloween. So that would have been in either 1959 or 1960. The machine is heavy duty, all steel and most of the time runs better than my newer computerized machines. It will sew heavy denim and I have even used it to repair sails for my Hobie Cat.

I was a Girl Scout and earned all the sewing badges. I remember 7th grade Home Economics and the sleeveless dress we all had to make. Despite removing every seam at least 3 times, I received an A on the dress. When I was 15, my mother had my youngest sister; Baby clothes and little toddler outfits were the range. does anyone remember the pinafores that crisscrossed in the back with little elastic bloomers?

In high school, one of my 1st jobs was at a store called Minnesota Fabrics. One of the perks was that if you agreed to sew something that could be put on display, they would give you the fabric. I remember a deep rust velvet Medieval Gown with heavy ivory lace that taught me everything I needed to know about fabric nap.

 After I married, I had my 1st business doing tailoring in my home. I lived in Detroit then and remember women bringing me beautiful wool coats to reline or to lengthen the sleeves. When my children were born, I made costumes every Halloween and my daughter wore the most beautiful dresses at school. We always had a sewing machine up in the house and I still fondly remember a young 16 year old friend of my son's who sat and sewed in the dining room while all of his buddies were outside skateboarding. I remember a Halloween party when he showed up with a Wild Things Costume he had made himself!

1975, I made my best friends wedding dress. I remember offering to make my sister Tracy's wedding dress for her when she was getting married. She looked at me with big eye's and said, "what, a homemade dress?  Needless to say, when the bridal store order was mismanaged, I ended up making the most beautiful pink silk dress with a white organza overlay and all the bridesmaids dresses that we purchased and had to tailor to fit the wedding party. My skills came in handy and my sister's dress was prettier than the one shown in the bridal magazine.

Of course, this was when fabrics were really nice, when I go to fabric stores today I have a difficult time selecting due to all the polyesters, UCK!!!!

I am drawn to textiles, I love combining different fabrics and I love anything with texture. I love loose threads, hand sewing and natural fibers.

It is sad that sewing has almost become a "lost art". Today's generation did not grow up with mother's who sewed. Due to budget cuts, Home Economics has been cut from the schools. It's not cool to be in "scouting" and at Halloween there are stores that sell costumes cheaper that the fabric costs at the Fabric Stores.

I get lost in the Fabric Store! I love all the beautiful colors, I love the texture. Now I spend my time looking for unique fabrics to dye. Fabrics that will eventually become Art-to-Wear.

As an artist, I create my fabric designs, then I sew the objects together to create one-of-a-kind Art-to-Wear and Home fashions. Yes there are little imperfections, but don't you just love the fact that the piece you are buying is entirely handmade!


Art in the Garden

We were at Art in the Garden today at the Terra Fermata Tiki Bar in Stuart, Florida.  

It was a very HOT Sunday afternoon. Not many people were out looking to buy art today. I think everyone was at the beach or the sandbar.

We were there a few weeks ago and had a great time so we decided to go back again. Last time we were there the event was from 2:00- 4:00. This week the hours were changed and now the event will only be held on the last Sunday of each month; from 2:00- 8:00 PM.  this is MUCH BETTER but, people did not start coming until the Live music started at 5:00. The music was great and the beer was cold, but since I got there at 1:30 in order to secure a good spot, I was ready to leave by 6:30. It was just too hot today to Open the gate at 2:00.

I think that this will eventually be a good art venue- once the weather cools down abit. I did see several local Stuart Artists come through to check it out- but they just passed through quickly and left. I hope the lack of people will not keep them from participating in future Art in the Garden Events.  

I also wonder what they are doing to promote the event, perhaps some postcards or posters would help to get the word out. A photographer from the Stuart news was there today taking pictures and talking to artists. Several were working while she chatted and photographed them. I think maybe next time I will take a small vat and some items to dye while people watch.

#stuartart, #artinthegarden, #terrafermata,