I don’t know how many times Cori Anne told me the address – I just couldn’t get it right. So when Google Maps directed us to go between two houses that were mere inches apart, cialis usarx we had a sneaking suspicion we were at the wrong place. Thankfully, help Cori spotted the steaming cauldron. Yes, cauldron. And yes, as a matter of fact, it was Halloween day. But no, it wasn’t just spooky decor. Actually, the, said, cauldron belongs to November’s Maker of the Month. The extremely creative, Caitlin Ffrench, is a textile artist who uses a cauldron on a weekly basis.
Caitlin’s creative endeavors are seriously prolific – we’re talking a dizzying amount of passions. Her interests range from clothing security to photography, from sculpture to tracking wolves…and basically everything in between. Caitlin’s spark for life and passion for creativity is truly inspiring.
Cori Anne and I were lucky enough to see her dyeing process in action. We chatted and snapped a few pics while Caitlin took advantage of the fall foliage to imprint shibori-treated textiles. The process was raw and beautiful. I hope you enjoy the photos and short video!
What is the dying process you used when we got together?
The dyeing process we did together is called Eco Printing. It was pioneered by India Flint- a dyer from Australia. I enjoy dyeing in this process because it is unpredictable, and it can’t be hurried. The leaves will print in their own time.
What natural dyes do you use and how do you find them? What’s in your garden?
In my garden (for dyes) I have marigolds, a eucalyptus tree, maple trees, lupins, madder, woad, dahlias, and carrot tops. In the wild I use all sorts- most recently i’ve been experimenting with Harlequin Glorybower- it gives a brilliant teal blue that seems to be lightfast (as far as i’ve read!). I am in love with tansy and goldenrod- which grow in abundance in our area- also fennel, lupins, alder, walnut husks, cedar bark (only using the bark from trees that have been clearcut- I don’t harvest it from standing trees!)
How did you get into natural dyeing and textiles?
I started doing a sculpture degree at UBC Okanagan, and halfway through I decided to take a year off an go to the Kootenay School of Art for their jewellery program. I got to the new school and they make you take 2 of their programs in the first 7 weeks – so I tried to get into ceramics (which was full). And I decided to make textiles my second choice (because the teachers looked like witches and I figured I belonged there). The first day of jewellery I realized I’m terrified of using torches – so fibre it was!! I almost missed my calling.
I was taught natural dyeing there and carried it on back into my work when I finished my degree at UBCO.
I grew up sewing though – my Mom and Oma are amazing textile artists. Growing up my Mom made a lot of our clothing and housewares.
What’s your creative process like? Does it come from routine or is more spur of the moment?
Oh man, this whole thing is spur of the moment and always in a flash of inspiration. I don’t feel right when I’m not making something. I feel like i have 200% more things to make than time I have – it’s a race to get everything out of my heart before I die.
What artists inspire you? Any that you’d love to collaborate with?
My partner is my greatest inspiration – Arlin ffrench. We met in art school and it wasn’t meant to be a real relationship – I was a silly 21 year old girl! But he brought me back to his place to show me a few paintings he had been working on, and I couldn’t believe his talent. I felt like he was going to be a challenge, in that he was full of this unyielding capability and wisdom. I invited him to the forest to make some Andy Goldsworthy inspired sculptures, and fell too hard for him. On our fourth date I got drunk and asked him to marry me – he was just as drunk and said yes! So we got married a few months later, and that was 10 years ago.
Also- Andy Goldsworthy – I would love to work with him. He is a brilliant force. I would have loved to sit and speak with Louise Bourgeois – she is another wonder.
I also love collaborating with new people – I’m up for meeting new artists always!
What’s next for you?
I am in the Eastside Culture Crawl- at 512 Victoria drive
I am putting on a Winter Solstice themed pop up in Chinatown December 1-6 called Collective Howl (collectivehowl.com)
And I feel like the next works are going to be continuing on my hair and silk sculptures- they’re make of wool, wax, silk, bones, ashes, hair, and blood. They’ve been a part of my work inspired by illness that dragged on for years (Endometriosis) and my subsequent hysterectomy (October 2014) and my now pain free life.
And natural dyeing – it is one of the great loves in my life.
“I am not what I am, I am what I do with my hands.” -Louise Bourgeois
Thanks, Caitlin, for meeting us and letting us have a glimpse of your world! If you’d like to see more of Caitlin’s work follow her on Instagram or visit her on Ravelry.