Graham Keegan Showing Indigo Extraction Outdoor Workshop

Graham Keegan, L.A.-based natural dyer and textile artist, is setting out on a tour across the United States to spread the good word about the magic of Indigo. From May to June 2018, Graham will be stopping in the following cities across the United States to circulate indigo seeds, give away indigo seedlings, and teach indigo dyeing workshops:

Sunday, May 13: All Roads, Yucca Valley CA RESERVE THROUGH ALL ROADS

Thursday, May 17: Weaving Southwest, Arroyo Seco, NM

Saturday, May 19: Marfa TX: El Cosmico, RESERVATION COMING SOON

Monday, May 21: Austin TX: Ft. Lonesome

Wednesday, May 23Manready Mercantile, Houston, TX RESERVE THROUGH MANREADY

Thursday, May 24: Florence, AL: RESERVE THROUGH Idyllwilde 6:00-8:00PM

Saturday, May 26: With Stony Creek Colors at Nashville Farmers Market, Nashville, TN

Thursday, May 31Wollam Gardens, Jeffersonton. VA 5:00-9:00 PM

Saturday, June 2Art In The Age, Philadelphia PA 3:00-5:00 PM (Cocktail Included)

Sunday, June 3Rikumo, Philadelphia, PA RESERVE THROUGH RIKUMO

Thursday, June 7: Tamworth, NH : Tamworth Distilling : 5:00-7:00PM

Sunday, June 10: Burlington VT : Stonecutter Spirits, 3:00-5:00PM

Graham Keegan Persicaria Tinctoria Indigo Plant Growing Indigrowing

Along his route, Graham will share indigo plants and dye knowledge with anyone that wants to begin their indigo cultivation and/or dye journey. His trip is a special opportunity for folks in the cities listed above to get hands-on experience with an indigo dye expert, which is often hard to find in many cities in the United States. You can learn more about his trip and sign up directly for a workshop via his indigo tour website.

At Weaving Southwest, we couldn’t be more excited about hosting Graham on Thursday, May 17 as he makes his way across the southern tier of the United States and heads up to Vermont. There is a rich history of indigo dyeing in the Navajo, Chimayo, Mexican, and Southwest Contemporary weaving traditions that are so important to our region. It is always special to host an educator that can contribute to our knowledge of indigo and natural dyeing. The opportunity to participate in that sort of cultural exchange doesn’t come along very often. We would love you to take a dye workshop with Graham, pick up some seeds or seedlings, or just come to shoot the breeze.

Graham Keegan Hand Dyed Indigo Textiles on Clothesline

It is also not lost on us that there is a broader cultural significance to Graham’s journey.  Living in times of disconnection and polarization, it has never been more important for us to engage in experiences that empower us to make things with our hands, connect us with one another, and build our knowledge of the environment that surrounds us. Art and craft has always held the special ability to build fellowship between small groups of artisans and provide the space to reflect on our connection to the natural world. In this moment, there seems an urgent need for artists and art educators to be the imaginative builders of spaces that foster conversation, skill-sharing, and knowledge of the natural world across social, economic, and ecological divides. Viewed through that broader perspective, Graham’s journey has this special distinction of providing the space to bring forth a blue wave of new indigo dyers and cultivators across the country. We cannot think of many things more beautiful that uniting people living in very different places across the country through a common connection to indigo, a natural dye plant that has retained a deep cultural significance to many cultures throughout the world.

Graham Keegan Brick Wall Workshop Clothesline

In advance of Graham’s visit, he was kind enough to answer a few questions about his natural dye journey and his trip. We hope you enjoy the interview!

Weaving Southwest: How did you get started natural dyeing?

Graham Keegan: Slowly, and with a lot of failures! But I really I started to explore natural dyeing in earnest when I moved to Los Angeles in 2009. At the time I was reeling from the transition from Vermont living to LA living and felt desperate to spend as much time with as many plants as possible. I had been working as a screen print designer and loved the interaction of print and fabric. I’ve always had an interest in doing things as “from scratch” as possible, so I decided to try to grow my own colors and try different ways of getting them on cloth. I was excited by the potential of being able to cultivate almost any plant in the Southern California Mediterranean climate! I started growing dye plants in containers in my apartment and borrowing land from friends who had places to put plants in the ground. As each plant would mature, I researched ways to use it. Once I got comfortable with some of the basics of natural dyeing, I began to explore the local plants in my neighborhood that grow wild : Peruvian pepper (Schinus molle), Tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca) and Eucalyptus resinifera. I continue to be intrigued by the infinite possibilities under the umbrella of Natural Dyeing.

Graham Keegan Persicaria Tinctoria draped in indigo cloth

WS: Why has natural dyeing been an important skill for you to know while living in the 21st century?

GK: I appreciate primary interactions with the environment! I gain a sense of curiosity, validation and contentment from working with my hands, tending to plants, boiling liquids and discovering “new” processes. These interactions with ingredients in their most basic forms are very grounding and the “work” of natural dyeing actually feels more like a healthy physical experience. The real treat of living in the 21st century is the fact that we have easy access to millenia of collected, recorded research into methods and materials in the form of books, online media and oral history.

Graham Keegan Dye Cup Workshop Indigo Clothesline

WS:You put such an emphasis on your role as a natural dye educator and making natural dyeing a more accessible practice. Why is making natural dye knowledge more accessible important to you?

GK: I honestly just enjoy working through problems and sharing my solutions. There are so many ways to work with natural dyes and sometimes the information out there is incomplete, opaque or under-examined. Being an educator gives my own work a bit of a sense of purpose: I enjoy guiding others through the challenges that I have had the opportunities to overcome myself!

Graham Keegan Indigo Dyeing Workshop Clothesline Hanging

WS: You are traveling across the country—much like a modern day Johnny Appleseed—educating people on indigo dyeing and providing indigo seeds and seedlings. What inspired you to take this journey at this moment?

GK: I’d love to be able to speak to as may people as I can about the possibilities of natural dyes! In terms of this ‘cultural moment’ I really do believe that it is valuable to encourage people to engage with more holistic processes, whatever they may be! I think everyone can benefit from getting their hands in the ground and tending to a life form!

WS: Why did you choose indigo as the natural dye plant to share with folks across the country?

GK: I think working with indigo, from seed to dye, is literally one of the more magical experiences I’ve ever had. The process of extracting the color from the leaves and making it adhere to fabric involves farming, fire, cauldrons, fermentation and color transformation. I’ve found few experiences more gratifying than growing a color and putting it onto a piece of fabric that I give to someone I love. It feels like a primal way of showing respect and adorning those we care about most.

Graham Keegan Indigo Dye Supplies

You can find more information about Graham via his website and instagram. Please visit Graham’s Indigo Tour website to sign up for his indigo dye class at Weaving Southwest.


Yarn Bales, oh beautiful Yarn Bales. Too bad they take so much time and energy to make.

We tried this once before. After this second round, we have decided that these Bales are just too much for us, so, unfortunately, they will probably never be seen again.

Here are some photos of this round. Enjoy!

Ciao,
Teresa


Thanks to the wonderful community of Arroyo Seco and The Arroyo Seco Mercantile we have been able to show everyone a bit of what happens behind the scenes at Weaving Southwest. Directly across the road from our shop, in the heart of Arroyo Seco, we have been demonstrating our dyeing techniques… turning our beautiful natural yarns into a variety of stunning, mouthwatering colors! We will be doing this a few more times this fall… click here to see the schedule. Below is a series of photos of our days so far, Dyeing in the Road. Enjoy!

DITR_1

Cleaning the pots for our big day.

DITR_2

The beautiful gardens across from our shop in Arroyo Seco.

DITR_3

Setting up the dye studio across from our shop.

DITR_4

The natural yarns ready to be dyed.

DITR_5

The dye pots heating up.

DITR_6

Preparing the yarn for the dye.

DITR_7

Our first color… Marigold!

DITR_8

Our wonderful set-up in the center of Seco.

DITR_9

Pulling down the yarns for Round Two.

DITR_10(1)

Getting ready to soak the next batch, while Round One cools.

DITR_11

Adding the dye…

DITR_12

Giving the pots a stir…

DITR_13

Blue Electra is ready, as the water is clear…

DITR_14

Blue Electra fresh out of the pot.

DITR_15

Explaining the dye process, while adding a new batch of yarn.

DITR_16

Clearing the pots with some Mop-Up.

DITR_17

Rinsing and talking about yarn…

Coming to the end of a day of Dyeing in the Road.

Coming to the end of a day of Dyeing in the Road.

DITR_19

The view from the Seco gardens, looking towards our shop.

    A days work, drying in the sun.

A days work, drying in the sun.

DITR_21

You know its been a great day when this is your view!

We hope you liked the photos! We would love to hear what you think! Do you dye? Natural Pigments or Acid Dyes? Is this something you have always wanted to learn? Do you have a favorite blog that is all about dyeing? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment in the comment section to share your thoughts. Thank you!

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I had a beautiful morning at the Dye Studio today! The snow was melting, the birds were chirping and each color seemed to brighten up the February landscape just a little bit more…

Dripping wet Ivory Rug Yarn

Dripping wet Ivory Rug Yarn

Persian Lilac B, 2-ply Tapestry, Yarn fresh out of the dyepots

Persian Lilac B, 2-ply Tapestry, Yarn fresh out of the dyepots

A beautifully rich dyelot of Caramel C, 2-ply Tapestry Yarn

A beautifully rich dyelot of Caramel C, 2-ply Tapestry Yarn

Pinon C, 2-ply Tapestry Yarn, ready to be rinsed

Pinon C, 2-ply Tapestry Yarn, ready to be rinsed

2-ply Tapestry Yarn (Persian Lilac B, Caramel D & E) drying in the New Mexico sun

2-ply Tapestry Yarn (Persian Lilac B, Caramel D & E) drying in the New Mexico sun

Pinon D & E, 2-ply Tapestry Yarn drying in the sun

Pinon D & E, 2-ply Tapestry Yarn drying in the sun


We just received a huge shipment of our beautiful, custom spun Rug Yarn! And we are so excited to get to the dyepots again!

Our Beautiful Dye Studio in Arroyo Seco, NM

Our Beautiful Dye Studio in Arroyo Seco, NM

We use a method of dyeing developed by Rachel Brown, founder of Weaving Southwest/Rio Grande Weavers Supply, that is unique and very environmentally conscious. We call it the “sequential” method of dyeing. Since with acid dyes the water is clear when the dyeing is complete, the same hot acidic water can be used over and over again, saving on water, fuel and acid.

First in the pots are some of our lighter colors: Straw, Wheat, Ivory and Beige.

Straw Rug Yarn being stirred in our large outdoor pots.

Straw Rug Yarn being stirred in our large outdoor pots.

Once they are out of the pots we hang them to dry in the warm New Mexico sun.

Straw and Ivory Rug Yarn drying in the sun.

Straw and Ivory Rug Yarn drying in the sun.

Then on to slightly darker colors: El Topo, Pewter, Walnut and Oak.

Taking a look at the Oak Rug Yarn to see if all the color has set.

Taking a look at the Oak Rug Yarn to see if all the color has set.

We are so grateful for the New Mexico monsoon season!

Checking the Ivory Rug Yarn in the monsoonal rains.

Checking the Ivory Rug Yarn in the monsoonal rains.

Because of all of the rains these last couple weeks, we are able to use our large wood burning pots.

A freshly stoked fire under our largest dye pot.

A freshly stoked fire under our largest dye pot.

This allows us to easily dye our darker colors like Pumpkin.

Pumpkin Rug Yarn in our large wood burning pot.

Pumpkin Rug Yarn in our large wood burning pot.

We have several hundred pounds of yarn to dye, so we will be at it for several weeks! We are also going to be dyeing some of our 2-Ply Tapestry Yarn and a new yarn that we just LOVE (and can’t wait to share)!