Announcing Kate Blee – Our 2015 International Visiting Artist


“Her dye stuff seeps into the cloth, guided but not quite controlled”

-(Rosemary Hill, 2004)

The Contemporary Textile Studio welcomes the renowned UK artist Kate Blee for a 3-day public workshop at our studio and an artist’s talk on Wednesday, June 24, at the Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Ave. Toronto. Kate’s workshop will focus on discovering colour relationships through a spontaneous, reflective and playful process.  Using dyes mixed to a variety of viscosities, and exploring unorthodox methods of applying dye or pigment to textile, students will discover a personal and experimental process of working as well as an appreciation of imperfections and anomalies as they arise, and a greater understanding of the nature of cloth in relation to dye.

Kate says of her approach, “ it is not about a controlled and predictable, planned process from beginning to end, but about making an unpredictable and sensitive journey through process.”  The workshop will encourage you to be observant and spontaneous, playful and attentive as you explore the interactions of colour on cloth.


International Visiting Artist: Kate Blee


Colour/Cloth: A Playful and Delicate Process

Friday, June 26 to Sunday, June 28, 2015

10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Tuition: $330 + $50 materials fee + HST

Register here

Maximum 12 participants


Lecture: at the Textile Museum of Canada:

The Unpredictable Life of a Piece of Cloth

Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 6:30 p.m.

Admission: $10 (tickets available online)

Register here


Kate Blee studied at Edinburgh College of Art and then set up her own studio in London in 1986. Kate’s work is an exploration of colour relationships.  She is interested in the place where colours meet, and explores the movement of colour through its medium.  Her work is characterized by an elegant and deep understanding of colour interactions and rhythm; she allows for both irregularity and anomaly in her approach.

Kate Blee has been involved in a wide range of art and design projects including exhibitions, installations, and commissions as well as working with architects and manufacturers. She has worked with architects such as Sir Michael Hopkins, Studio 54 architecture, Avanti architects, Rivington Street Studio, Allies and Morrison and Wilkinson Eyre.  Her glass architectural installation for Canary Wharf shows her painterly approach to surface, while her outer glazed wall at Southmead Hospital employs colour rhythm on a large scale. You can see some of Kate’s work with Christopher Farr carpets here.

Her textiles have been produced with manufacturers including Sir Paul Smith, Donna Karan, Maureen Doherty and Christopher Farr. Her work is also in public collections including The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Craft Council (UK) and The Contemporary Arts Society (UK)

Canary Wharf

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Shibori and Indigo at the Studio – 8 months after the workshop

The Textile Studio has maintained a fantastically strong vat since Yoshiko Wada’s visit, and we have been exploring and expanding upon the methods learned in her workshop every Friday since June. As well, we have been experimenting with resist pastes made of clay or rice powder. The resist pastes can be applied as paint, can be screen printed, can be block printed – it opens up an entirely new world of print-making to a simple piece of cloth being dipped in indigo.


Studio member Munira Amin has been working with clay resist, experimenting with the consistency to make the medium most workable for her graphic repeats. In some of her work below, we can see the results post-indigo dip.


Here are some examples of indigo-dyed cloth with unwashed clay resist:


Studio member Ganaele Langlois has taken up rice paste as her resist medium of choice – experiments involved screen printing fine images onto fabric to resist dye when the piece was dipped, as well as hand painting the paste to create cloudy images paired with a circular clamping technique – very effectively creating a moody moon effect. She also used ori-nui stitch resists, and the sum of these experiments are to form the background of a cloth book, as you can see here.


Summer resident Jenny Boucher worked with number of folding and binding techniques to create large panels of shibori cloth. She experimented with yukata pleating, itajime clamping, and arashi pole-wrapping shibori.


Double folding in multiple directions creates wonderful striping effects when bound and dyed in the indigo. Seen below: fabric folded pre-dip, and unfolding in a water bath after.

jenny-boucher-double foldingjenny-boucher-unfolding-shibori2


The arashi method proved particularly water-like and effective on this piece.


More experiments to come as we begin to delve into the world of mordents, iron, natural dyes and discharge dyeing.


Information about clay resist can be found in Michel Garcia’s DVD workshop. The pdf recipe for the rice paste resist can be found on the Maiwa website.

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Shibori and Indigo Workshop with Yoshiko Wada


This gallery contains 17 photos.

The Contemporary Textile Studio has been host to a number of talented visiting international artists, and this spring saw the acclaimed artist, author, curator and teacher Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada host a workshop on indigo and shibori. Shibori techniques have been an … Continue reading