FibresWest 2023

Having had Fibres West 2021 cancelled due to WeStern Australia going into lockdown, the 2023 conference was so much more special.

I enrolled in an Introduction to Mordant Printing and Natural Dyeing course with Julie Ryder from Canberra and it did not disappoint. I am quite slapdash when it comes to mordanting but I now have a series of diagnostic strips where I can check various mordants against various dyes. Each sheet has a strip with a record of where the dyestuff was collected, how it was treated and how it was dyed. I can include extra strips to show what happens when the dye is modified.

The one on the left is a bit dark, but it gives the idea of how the strips work; with each block of colour being a different mordant (which is documented). The one on the right is straight Lac, and then Lac modified with soda ash, again with the different mordants.

This is how our classroom looked by the end. It didn’t look like this at any other point during our endeavours!

This is pretty much the only photo I took during class.

We had an opportunity to view the finished pieces from other classes, which included, amongst other things, felting, shibori, working with wire, and draping fabric to make garments. I would have liked to do them all! I didn’t get permissions to show you any of the work, but there was some beautiful pieces there.

When I was looking through the fabric I had taken to the workshop, I found a misshapen piece of linen, which turned out to be the cut out front of a top. A deeper dive threw up the back. This is what I did with them; they are mordanted and dyed in marigold. I’m going to stitch back into them before I sew them together.

At the end of the week I threw some threads in the pot and got some beautiful colours. These threads will be used to stitch back into my top. I will be winding them all on to wooden bobbins.

The week long residential programme was held at Muresk Agricultural College, which is north east of Perth. It’s the most beautiful farm, with teaching and meeting spaces. It’s pretty cold though. Here is a photo showing early morning, contrasted with midday.

I did take another photo on the last day, but the fog was so bad that there’s no detail at all.

Fibres West isn’t just about learning new skills, we have fundraising activities, one of which is called 15 x 15. This is where people make small objects which sell for $15. The proceeds go towards scholarships and other expenses. I’ve never put anything in this before as I feel that I don’t have much to offer, but, as I’m now on the committee, I thought that I should contribute. In the end I made three sets of these leather boxes, made from the leather Mark and I harvested from a sofa left on a verge.

they are flatpacked and here is a video of me putting one together.

It’s quite nerve wracking putting work up for sale, so I was delighted when all three sets sold in the first couple of minutes. Funnily enough, they all went to classmates. This was coincidental as I didn’t put my name on them. One of the buyers told me she was going to play with dyeing hers.

We always have an Artist in Residence and this year it was Jill O’Meehan, who was crocheting objects/shapes and installing them around the campus. Every day there was something new to look at. I now want to explore curly crochet! I apologise for all the images, but I couldn’t choose one or two.

One of the security men told me that they loved having us at Muresk (we’ve been going for a few years now), as we really brighten the place up. We put lots of decorations around the public spaces and it’s very colourful. As many of you may know, the theme for this year was “Flower Power” and we have a party on the last night where we dress up, sing and dance, and terrify any men who happen by! We even had a peaceful protest in the form of a sit in.

I found a pair of hipster straight leg jeans at an earlier Fibres West garage sale, added godets from knee to ankle to turn them into flares and appliquéd flowers and other signs on. I wore the wig I bought in 1969 and the Afghan coat is my original one from the late 1960s too, but sadly the only bit that’s real shearling is the collar, the body is fake as I was too poor to buy a proper one. The beads are dyed Quondong nuts, the work of Noongar artist Jeanette Garlett. I recently restrung them, adding a few more nuts to create a bit more impact. Here I am with my friends Fran and Meagan. Fran and I only see each other at Fibres West, but we occasionally chat on DM. I missed taking photos with a couple of other regular attendees, including one who attended school on the same campus as me in the UK. She was a day student and I was a boarder; what are the chances of that happening?!

I’m home now, slightly exhausted having walked in excess of 51kms during the week. Laundry has been done (a new washing machine had to be bought in my absence), and everything has been put away and organised. I hope to show you the various outcomes of my learning over the next few months.


6 thoughts on “FibresWest 2023

  1. Hello Sue! This sounds like a truly fantastic setting for a fiber festival and these ateliers are so inspiring. I couldn’t help but zoom in on these fabulous crocheted pieces of art. What an artist this woman is! No wonder why the owners like to have your event on the farm. A good rest is well deserved now xxx

    1. Thank you m’dear. It was an amazing week, I had two days off and now I’m doing a shibori course. At least I’m in my own bed. Jill’s crochet is truly fabulous and she’s lovely.

Leave a Reply