I had a notion that I'd post every day from the ISEND conference, but the combination of jet lag and sometimes limited internet connectivity--along with, well, being in France and wanting to be out on the lovely streets and in the cafes--spelled failure for that. So I'm sitting here today ready to write, but realizing that I left all my conference materials at my office yesterday, and that I should probably write my posts for the Textile Society of America, which gave me a grant to attend the conference, the Surface Design Association blog, and a couple of other promised pieces before I post too many details or photographs here. So for now, I'll just say a little.
It was a wonderful conference, and it was so cool that a few people recognized me as the "Slow Cloth lady." I met some textilian friends who were inspiring and delightful, including:
Nicole Rode, a textile conservator from the British Museum
Sasha Duerr of Permacouture, whom I'd corresponded with but never met;
In brief, the natural dye community is an impressive global group of people who are searching for the next steps to keep natural dyeing alive, to find new ways to work with dye plants, share information, and keep natural dyeing viable as art, craft, and industry. Many are working with indigenous communities; others are working as solo artists and entrepreneurs; still others are focused on the science and chemistry of dye plants. While anything like a formalized global trade organization is still to come, there is so much passion, interest, and creativity in dye plants, whether for textiles, food, or cosmetics, that I have no doubt that almost anything is possible.
There are existing models, full of both successes and challenges, where things that once seemed anachronistic have been transformed into a contemporary movement and even to mainstream acceptance; the organic foods movement comes to mind. So it'll be fascinating to see where this can go, as long as the many diverse constituents can aim for consensus and sustainable growth.
More on ISEND to come.
Dye plants and fabrics above are from the exhibition stand of Coleurs de Plantes, a company in France that's developing and standardizing natural dyes for industry.
After leaving La Rochelle, I had two glorious days in Paris. If you'd like to see some of my pictures, they're on my Flickr page. I'll write more about Paris shortly.