Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dyeing fun at the DAM

Saturday I took advantage of a break in the rain to visit the Denver Art Museum. Since May, they have celebrating the opening of their new permanent textile exhibit by highlighting textiles throughout the museum and hosting textile-related events. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't see many of the exhibits because I was having so much fun on the first floor. It was almost as much fun as being in grammar school again!


Before I even got inside, I found the entrance plaza transformed into a dye garden, which highlighted dye plants and plant based dyes, and hosted demonstrations of both plant-based dyeing techniques and silk painting. I arrived by 10 and this area was full of people each time I walked by until I left at 1:30. What a great way to pull people into the museum!

In the dye garden, you could also sign up for indigo dying. Hoping it wasn't just for kids, I signed up--and wouldn't you know it, there was only one child and I even found a coworker and his wife participating! I have never dyed anything, so tie dyeing an indigo bandana was a lot of fun. First we bunched and folded our bandanas and held them fast with rubber bands. After we finished, the bandanas soaked in water for a few minutes before being plunged into the dye bath for five minutes. After the dye bathe, the bandanas were rinsed, then we undid the rubber bands to see our creations.


The volunteer staff then took over to wash our creations and store them for us to pick up on our way out. They really had the whole process down so that it took no more than 30 minutes. Here is my bandana. It looks like an underwater scene. Maybe I can give some of those blobs tentacles and see what happens!


Upstairs while I was waiting for a tour of the new exhibit (which I missed) I got engrossed in the quilt studio where they had quilts set up for a kind of community wide quilting bee, tables to make crazy quilt blocks on, and Saturday's speaker, which was a local artist explaining how to dye fabric. I thought her talk was fascinating, and then I found out that we could try dyeing ourselves. Using stamps, relief plates, brushes and rollers we used thick fabric dye to dye our own cotton squares. Honestly, I thought I was 8 again. What a lot of fun! I will have to go to her art studio next week to pick up my finished square after it has been processed. The studio is around the corner from the museum. I stopped there before going home and got list of dyeing and sewing classes they offer. I'm hoping I can take a class soon.


So I didn't see many of the exhibits, but I have one more weekend before the textiles (except for the new permanent exhibit) are packed up, so I may go back this week to see a few additional things. For example, I know that the Ladies Fancywork Society, Denver's local yarn bombing group, has a coral exhibit that I would like to see before it moves out. Here is a sneak peak from a small case on the first floor of what it is like.


And here is their contribution to the museum's back entrance. Aren't these ladies talented?


So maybe I will feature more next week. Until then, I've found a lot of great new resources on learning dyeing techniques in Denver and I can't wait to explore the world of fabric dyeing.


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