Set aside your paintbrush for Textiles Weekend

Art on the Lake series to feature indigo dyeing and macramé

Get ready to bring back the ‘70s with a twist — literally.

Arts Whistler is hosting a textile weekend on July 29 and July 30 and will show novice and experienced participants how to create wall hangings, tote bags, or sarongs from macramé or indigo dyeing. Dubbed Textiles Weekend: The Art of Dyes and Macramé, the session will take place as part of Art on the Lake at the Alta Lake Station House.

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If you’ve never heard of indigo dyeing, you’re in for a treat. It’s a process that is centuries old, stemming from India, Japan, and South America.

It’s also the reason your jeans are blue.

You’ll start out small on July 29, dyeing a tote bag and a few pieces of cotton that can be used in a variety of ways.

“It’s a shabori technique,” said instructor Kim Maitland, owner of Salt and Snow, an online shop that sells indigo-dyed products. “It’s a Japanese technique of folding and clamping (the cotton) or tying it. It’s exactly like tie dyeing except it’s the oxidization process. The dye itself is this yellowy lime-green colour with a scummy blue on top. You submerge the fabric and when it comes out and hits the air it oxydizes and you can see it turn blue.”

That’s where the ooh and ahh part happens.

“It comes out and it’s totally green and it gets darker and darker right before your eyes,” she said.

Like a paper snowflake, your creation is revealed when you unwrap and unfold the piece of fabric.

The surprise is half the fun of the dyeing process.

“Even if you kind of know what to expect, you still have no idea,” said Maitland. “I had one piece that I wrapped up in cord but somehow it got twisted so it ended up with hearts on it.”

Twisting and knotting aren’t independent to just indigo dyeing. They’re the foundation for macramé, which also works best with cotton or natural fibres.

While macramé saw its height of popularity during the ‘70s, it’s making a comeback with trendy plant hangers, wall hangings, and necklaces. Thanks to the boho look, macramé is also making guest appearances in weddings in candle holders, plant hangers, and table cloths. Similar to the indigo dye workshop, no experience is necessary to learn the art of macramé.

“(Participants) are going to make a simple wall hanging,” said instructor Diane Rudge, who has made everything in macramé, from teepees to benches to chandeliers and is working on a large installation in Squamish. “They’ll get a piece of driftwood for the top and then rope hanging down. They’ll each have to come up with their own custom, unique design.”

That design will be based on creativity and imagination. Rudge won’t be giving out a set pattern.

“I like to show (students) about three to four different styles of knots and we’ll practice those and they’ll get comfortable with that, but I really want to see the creativity in each student come out so instead of having a set pattern for them to follow I teach them the basics and then allow them to play around and experiment with whatever they think will be their piece of art,” she said.

Rudge hopes that participants will come out with a greater sense of being artistic.

“I feel like fibre artwork is trending and most people, when they think of art, think of sketching and painting, so this is kind of nice that you can create something more tactile,” she said. “I’m hoping that opens up some more creativity in different people. It’s endless what you can do.”

There are still a few spaces left for both workshops.

To register and find out what you need to bring visit

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