What we wear is layered with meaning: the materials are an expression of the carbon cycle itself and reconnect us to the landscape that provides our natural fiber and dye resources. From soil to skin, we cultivate our sense of belonging to our regional ecology, animals, and community through a textile culture.
The first Fibershed fashion show demonstrated the realization of a prototype 150-mile radius wardrobe; in this fifth fashion gala, we invite you to participate directly in experiencing and co-creating local textile culture. In place of a runway, we will root into a relationship with the soil to soil lifecycle, and celebrate the richness of local fiber, local dye, and local skill.
With atmospheric carbon levels at an all-time high, we will engage with personal practices of material stewardship and storytelling while deepening our understanding of the opportunities to ameliorate climate change within our bioregion.
Presented amidst the expansive views and fragrant gardens of Chileno Valley Ranch, a 150-year-old farmstead just 20 minutes west of Petaluma, CA, we acknowledge that this event will take place on land first inhabited by the Coast Miwok people, within the Traditional and Cultural Territory of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. The Fibershed Gala aims to illuminate the pathways of participation in regional fiber and dye systems that restore our climate, working landscapes, and our relationships in the community.
- Cultivate skills and a sense of place with hands-on creative experiences taught by natural dye experts, fiber artists, and community facilitators: learn more about the gathering area workshop leaders and practices by scrolling down. Each guest will have the opportunity to participate in two gathering areas.
- Explore how a historic ranch is shifting its management of the landscape to enhance the drawdown of atmospheric carbon: open your senses to the practices that produce food and fiber while harmonizing our climate imbalance, through a self-guided walking tour
- Experience the poetic and practical aspects of the weaving of Apache baskets, Navajo blankets, and dream-webbing, expressed in dynamic performances by soloists of Dancing Earth Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations, inviting audience members to experience cultural life ways and connection with sacred land, water, and skyworlds
- Immerse yourself in a visual and sonic experience of local artistry, including a creative textile art exhibition featuring local artists, and traditional folk songs by vocal arts ensemble Kitka
- Shop artisanal goods, grown and made within the Northern California Fibershed
- Join in a shared exploration of locally farmed yarns and patterns for hand knitters with the launch of a new community knitalong
- Explore bast fiber (flax, dogbane, and nettle) processing and spinning demonstrated by skilled farmers and artisans
- Enjoy a generous spread of delicious farm-to-table foods and locally sourced beverages
- Try fresh pressed cider from the heirloom orchard that includes 17 varietals
- Discover clothing that transforms what we wear into a means of building soil and reversing climate change in a showcase of Climate Beneficial designs by Fashion Institute of Design design students
Eco Printing: Expressing Place on Climate Beneficial Wool
With Cory Gunter Brown
The practice: learn to work with wild harvested plant materials in a beautiful, expressive, and ethical way: eco printing is a sensuous dye technique true to its name. It is both environmentally friendly and works like a dye print in which the image and energy of the dye plants are transferred directly to the textile. We’ll use this magical technique to make living textiles that have personal meaning and are deeply connected to the places we call home.
Take home: an eco printed Climate Beneficial Wool textile to adorn your home or complement your wardrobe.
Artist bio: Cory Gunter Brown is an artisan and empath who has practiced the entwined arts of sacred adornment and the handmade her whole life. She was born and raised in East Oakland and comes from a radical and creative family of dancers, machinists, artists, and activists. Cory has learned the most powerful and beautiful truths in her life by listening to the voice of the Earth, the voices of Indigenous Peoples present and past, and her own inner voice. Through a decolonial lens, her work with natural dyes, and her relationship with the living Earth, she’s come to understand that for every toxic, abusive reality happening on this Earth, there is another way that is far more compassionate, elegant, and balanced within the cycle of life. She’s learned that our bodies are an extension of the Earth and the Earth is an extension of our bodies, and her choices in life now flow from that knowing. Cory spent ten years co-creating The Moon, an Oakland based feminine clothing line made by local hands with natural fibers and natural dyes. She is now teaching natural dye workshops to adults and children, producing a select few naturally dyed items each month, and making plant infused body oils in collaboration with the plant beings from the land where she lives in Mendocino. Working with plants has changed her life.
Growing Natural Dyes in Handmade Paper Vessels
With Michelle Wilson
The practice: engage with plant-based materials drawn from our regional ecosystem, sculpting paper made of invasive plants into a compostable container that invites you to explore how growing natural dye plants deepens your relationship to a place-based natural fiber and dye geography. This gathering area involves casting paper fibers into a form, a water-based process that does not require prior experience and will result in participants taking home wet work to dry — please wear clothing and shoes that can get wet.
Take home: a handmade, biodegradable paper vessel crafted from invasive species, plus dye garden seeds to cultivate local color at home, whether that’s on your doorstep or planted directly into the soil of your garden
Artist bio: Michelle Wilson is an interdisciplinary thinker whose work involves papermaking, printmaking, book arts, installation, and social practice. She has exhibited her work both internationally and in the United States, and her practice includes frequent collaborations with other artists, in particular her ongoing project the Rhinoceros Project with Anne Beck, which creates space for conversations around loss, extinction, and revitalization through community-based stitching and limited edition prints.
Mapping Clothing Toward Collective Accountability
With Teju Adisa Farrar
The Practice: The majority of the clothing we have access to in the United States is imported from opaque supply chains and made by hands and labor often obscured to the point of invisibility. In this workshop we will map where our clothes come from and explore the geographies of collective accountability.
Take home: processes and tools for tracing the connections of material culture and responsibility
Artist bio: Teju Adisa Farrar is a Jamaican-American writer, poet and urban geographer based in Oakland, California. Her focus is on environmental and cultural equity from a social geographies perspective. Having lived in 7 different countries, Teju has been involved in advocacy and human rights domestically and abroad for over a decade working on issues spanning political, racial and environmental justice. Her super power is connecting the dots between issues, globally. Teju supports artists, activists, initiatives, organizations and subaltern communities who are mapping/making alternative resilient futures.
Painting Clothes with Local Plants and Dye Extracts
With Liz Spencer
The practice: using local plants and natural extracts, explore the direct application of paint onto cloth. Proper methods for achieving wash and light fast results with natural dyes will be demonstrated, as well as tips for paint techniques using natural thickeners. Experience the whole process from plant to painted composition. This technique is aptly suited for masking stains or dinginess on well loved garments and linens and is capable of breathing new natural color beauty back into old textile items. No previous dyeing knowledge necessary.
Take home: naturally painted textiles, an original painting composition on paper and a handout outlining natural dye painting techniques and recipes to recreate this beautiful art at home.
Artist bio: Liz Spencer, also known as The Dogwood Dyer, has years of experience foraging, growing & processing plants for dye in both urban and rural locations. Her most recent experience of tending a dye garden nestled between rows of her family’s heritage orange grove in California on the cusp of an ever sprawling human population has taught her much about water conservation, waste stream tapping and how to push her craft in a more sustainable and environmentally sound manner. She holds a Master of Arts from the world’s leading sustainable fashion graduate program ‘Fashion Futures’ at the London College of Fashion where she discovered natural dyeing. She has taught fashion, sustainability, and natural dyeing at Parsons the New School and continually teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She was a venture fellow at the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator (BF+DA) and now splits her time each year teaching between California and New York with the ambition to increase sustainable literacy & practices in the fashion and textiles industries. She is now finding a new rhythm by the ocean in San Clemente, CA with her partner and two children.
Reflecting Place on Paper with a Local Color Palette
With Grace Haris
The practice: What would it look like to capture and transmute pigments onto fiber as a form of acknowledgement and appreciation? As stewards of the earth, we must ask ourselves to consider the sustainability of process and outcome in our art. In this workshop, we will experiment and discuss different ecologically-conscious natural dyeing techniques onto various types of fiber mediums. The fungi and native plants of Sonoma County will serve as our source of locally-derived inspiration. From this process, we will identify our favorite colors created and apply them on a 100% cotton letter-pressed poster depicting the palette of our dreams. In this workshop, the final form is not just the creation itself but the collective stories and gratitude uncovered in the process. Colors are a fundamental component of us and our shared experiences, stories, and memories. Each place, with their own ecologies emit a unique composition of light that gives evidence to life on earth.
Take home: one-of-a-kind artwork and skills applicable to any neighborhood or place, allowing us to reflect on the beauty and blessings of our diverse planet.
Artist bio: Grace Sullivan is an environmental educator and natural textile dyer born in the desert of Arizona. She holds a diverse background in environmental studies and sustainability, which she weaves with her love of creative expression to advocate for harmonic interactions between our earth, ourselves, and each other. Grace is passionate about rediscovering relationships with the land and sea in cooperation with communities advocating for stabilization and environmental justice. She loves farming flowers, dancing, and the deep stories embedded within. She currently resides in Oakland, California at PLACE for Sustainable Living and can be found online at graceharis.com.
Visible Mending: Layering Local Fibers onto Loved Clothes
With Ashley Eva Brock
The Practice: Rather than hiding damage and repair, the visible act of care and dedication for the life and longevity of the object adds to its beauty: in this workshop, we’ll be exploring this concept to mend our clothes. Patches of botanically dyed Huston Textile denim fabric, embroidery needles and thread including Climate Beneficial Wool fine yarns will be provided to practice mending stitches and techniques.
Take home: tactile skills and samples of visible mending stitches to create mended textiles
Artist bio: Ashley Eva Brock is a fashion and costume designer, fiber artist, and educator. Her work focuses on natural fibers, natural dyes, and experimental, conceptual approaches to both wearable and non-wearable objects. She holds a degree from the California College of the Arts in Fashion Design with a strong focus on Textile Fine Arts. She interweaves fine art and fashion, functionality and form, practicality and possibility. She has shown her wall-based work at places such as Tartine Bakery in San Francisco and in publications such as the West Marin Review. Her body-based work has received several awards including The London Centre for Sustainable Fashion’s Fashioning the Future Award in 2011. She has worked as a dyer at the San Francisco Opera, for clothing design companies such as Tea Collection and Gravel & Gold, and is a freelance costume designer for music videos, performance and film. She teaches at her alma mater CCA, as well as public workshops on subjects including natural dyes, costume design, and sewing/patternmaking.
Photo credits for gathering area collage: images courtesy of the artists, including map by Nadia Nadesan; portrait of Ashley Eva Brock by Paige Green.
Photos by Paige Green, Illustration by Nicholas Olmsted