Meet Kate Kilmurray! A weaver and member of our Natural Dye Community. Kate is the founder of The Weaving Way Community, an online group of over 100 weavers across the US. She incorporates mindfulness into her textile art practice and the result is gorgeous handwoven potholders that are both functional and elegant. We caught up with Kate to hear and see what she is up to these days!
Tell us about your creative practice:
For me, hand-weaving is a form of calming and beautiful ritual, a way of coming home and connecting to the rhythms of life. When I sit down to weave, I gather inwards, feel the natural rhythm of my breath, and hold space for silence. My designs emerge from this stillness. My experience of weaving is one of deep presence and awareness, and each of my weaving is a kind of offering—a deepening into life.
The result of this weaving-meditation is a simple, elegant, and useful tool. Handwoven potholders protect our hands, our counter tops, and our tables. They remind us to slow down, do less, and be present as we prepare the food that nourishes and sustains us. By incorporating hand-weavings in the kitchen, we can bring more depth, beauty, and meaning to our daily lives.
What sparked your interest in natural botanical dyes?
Botanical dyes connect my weavings in a meaningful way to the source of my creativity, the natural world. The wonderful variety and uniqueness achieved through seasonality and the individual dyeing practice is fascinating, sparking my creative juices and making my weavings more alive.
Earlier this year I began working with a location-based natural plant dye practitioner and knowing that the materials I am using are honouring the earth and using her resources in a sustainable way is becoming key to my inspiration and practice. It is nurturing and restoring to work in this way.
Tell us about an exciting project that you have coming up!
Through both in-person and online “Weaving as Meditation” workshops, I guide people to use their hands in craft and contemplation, to quiet the mind, and to reconnect with their innate creative essence. They leave my workshops with the skill to bring inner calm and beauty to their corner of the world. I’m excited to widen my workshop reach in 2022 with key events planned with organisations including @themakingapp and Fuller Craft Museum.
As founder of The Weaving Way Community, an online group of over 100 handweavers from across the US, I will also be concentrating on delivering another year of fascinating guest speakers from all forms of weaving discipline. As a collective, we are pioneering the modernization and continuation of a traditional crafting practice and I am very proud to bring so many talented people together virtually on a regular basis.
We've got a special workshop in the works with Kate coming in 2022 in the meantime you can find out more about Kate's workshops, online shop and The Weaving Way Community via her website and Instagram account: @katekilmurray
Botanical Painting Workshop
Have you ever admired a dreamy watercolor illustration? Not only is watercolor easy to work with, but it can be a relaxing experience! Learn about May's Watercolor for Relaxation Paint Night here. Now on to a recap of our Botanical Watercolor for Relaxation Workshop! This event was a collaboration with Our Little Stand to promote relaxation through the creative process with inspiration for our small works drawn from their gorgeous plants found at their OC shops. Participants were thrilled with the included supplies they received which included a beautiful kit of Kuretake watercolor paints.
When Lang of Our Little Stand approached me about collaborating on some workshops, I knew I wanted to do something inspired by the lovely greenery they had at their artisanal stands. Even though social distancing kept us from meeting in person our live virtual class was a hub for creatives to connect and start their weekend by painting several small works of art!
Every watercolor workshop begins with a short meditation designed to promote relaxation and tap into one's creative energy. We began with some deep breathing to encourage mindfulness and really take advantage of the incredibly calming act of painting with watercolors. We then moved on to a short warm up exercise of experimenting with watercolor washes and loosening up our brushstrokes.
Next up, we began our first piece by lightly sketching out flowers and using both wet-on-wet and dry brush techniques to paint them in. Students were encouraged to freehand additional flowers and play with different colors to see the outcome. We had some beautiful results and our gallery view screen morphed into a meadow when everyone held up their work!
Those same watercolor techniques were then applied to our blue agave inspired paintings. These structural plants really allowed students to play with shape and composition. Everyone enjoyed mixing the soft blue-greens for this piece and the rich Kuretake palette was easy to work with.
Interested in learning how to paint with watercolors? Or maybe you're looking for a creative outlet with a laid back atmosphere? Don't miss out, sign up for May's Watercolor for Relaxation Paint Night: Textile Patterns Explore beautiful colors and play with patterns inspired by textiles and rugs in this special evening workshop. Unwind and paint with us mid-week!
Our Spring Workshop series is out now- and there are limited spaces left in each workshop. Join us if you are ready to tap into your creativity.
Exploring the magic of dye gardens in Spring
Have you ever thought about extracting color from plants? If so, you might have even considered cultivating your own dye garden. While a vegetable or herb garden's purpose is to produce food, a dye garden's harvest provides botanical ingredients used for dyeing in natural dye baths to produce color on fiber. A bonus is that many dye plants are visually appealing and provide food for pollinators.
Unsure where to begin or need some inspiration? Textile artist, Theresa Robinett became intrigued with botanical dyes when she ordered a small booklet from a government printing office in the late sixties. Fast forward to this year her garden will consist of marigolds, black knight scabiosa, safflower, weld, cosmos, alkanet and amaranth.
Theresa recommends Coreopsis, also known as Ticksee, as a "must have" for any dye garden. It's pretty self sufficient and a plant in a large pot will produce enough flowers for several dye pots making it ideal for even container gardens. She recommends picking the blossoms often as the plant will produce new ones and the flowers make pollinators very happy! The color obtained from the blossoms "range from a golden yellow to a rich rust and shades in between. Take the time to slowly bring these colors to life on a low flame and they will not disappoint."
Her favorite fabrics to work with are wool and silk, since they react so well to most colors and are often used in her spinning/ knitting/ weaving practice. When she had extra time last summer to explore her fabric stash where she found silk and cotton fabrics that took very nicely to dye and she plans on continuing her explorations with these materials. We can't wait to see more of Theresa's garden as it emerges this Spring!
Textile artist and new mom, Lizzie Muir, loves growing sulfur cosmos, hopi sunflowers and Japanese indigo in her dye garden. Her favorite plant to grow is the hopi sunflowers, their variations and size always surprise her. They can have one large bloom or several smaller flowers branching out in bunches. "The dye from the seeds is fugitive but very fun to play with and I especially like to use it as an ink. Playing with the PH shifts is a meditative experience for me."
She prefers to take a laid back approach to the garden and 'chucks the seeds in the ground and hope for the best". She does like planting seeds in different areas of the garden and seeing how they fare. When she began growing indigo, she fermented, reduced, and dehydrated her harvest but found that she enjoys the gorgeous results of dyeing with fresh leaf indigo. Now she looks forward to it every summer!
Lizzie finds cosmos to be very reliable, easy to grow and an excellent source of color. They make lovely hapazome impressions and create an incredible dye bath. She also loves that it will grow through the winter here in SoCal and is a pollinator magnet.
Are you considering planting a dye garden this year? The ideal time to start planting in the US is April or May depending on which zone you are in. The USDA Hardiness Map is a good resource when determining when plants should be put in the ground. In you are in another country, make sure to plant after the last frost and check the length of your growing season when planning out your garden.
We can't wait to see what our community decides to grow and share the gardens in bloom!
Let me know what you'll be growing in the comments.
Find out about our seed giveaway here>>>
Join our upcoming Natural Dye & Shibori workshop here>>>
Follow their beautiful work on Instagram at Theresa Robinett and Lizzie Muir
HI, I'M HILARY.
This is where I share inspiration for a hand-crafted lifestyle from natural dye methods, textile surface techniques, and the best of contemporary California design. I love dreaming up products for an artful sustainable home. I offer workshops to inspire you to live your best life by connecting you to your creativity and others. I hope to meet you in person at one of my current craft workshops for creatives like you! Join my tribe to receive your first free video on Shibori folding with me.
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