|Penland meadow from the porch of the Dye Shed|
|The Dye Shed|
The major plus is what we call the "Penland Experience." The workshops are eight-, two-, or one-week long; the studios are open 24/7; the dining room provides fantastic food; and the campus is tucked away and beautiful. It's a total immersion experience: art and artists all the time. It's magic.
|A hollyhock in front of the Dye Shed|
The second gardening related highlight from this weekend was visiting with Catharine Ellis, who is teaching a class called The Intersection of Weaving & Dyeing. She showed us how the class was using plants from the Penland dye garden (!) to dye the threads that they then wove into beautiful scarves, wraps, hangings - whatever the student wants to do. I learned that you have to use something called a "mordant" to set the dye. In other words, you can't just dip something in, say, onion skins, and have it be colorfast through subsequent washings. There are several mordants and each one of them reacts with the dye source differently.
The examples above had different mordants painted on the material in strips, then the whole cloth was dipped in the dye source. (See how where there's no mordant the dye didn't take?) I'm sorry I didn't take good notes about which mordants and dye sources were used (you'll have to take the class!) So what they do is make of these test cloths to see what color they want for a particular project, then they dye the thread. This class was in the Lily Loom House in a lovely light-filled room full of looms and dying equipment. They even had some indigo in process! Indigo is the only natural source of blue and it's difficult to extract and set. Click on Catharine's name above and see her wonderful work.
|Lily Loom House - see those wonderful windows on the second floor?|
|Most of the buildings have a hand-made marker|
|A wall in one of the bathrooms|
|Closeup of the wall|
|A set of flame-worked birds for sale in the Gallery|
Oh, yes, check out the Gallery. Fabulous. I bought a scarf that you're going to dye for (get it???)