Ikat is a traditional form of yarn preparation for weaving that is practiced in many Asian and Central Asian countries as well as Central and South America and North Africa. Artisans bind selected sections of warp or weft threads before dyeing, in order to form patterns in the cloth as it is woven on the loom. “Warp ikat” describes the process of binding the warp in a patterned way to prevent selected areas from receiving dye prior to placing the warp on the loom to weave. Similarly “weft ikat” is woven from resist-bound dyed weft threads, and “double ikat” is woven from both warp and weft-bound dyed threads. In 2009, a Fulbright-Nehru senior research award enabled me to document warp resist binding in the village of Somasar, in the Surendranagar region of Gujarat, India. I adapted what I learned from Master Weaver Vaghela G. Vitthalbhai, for use in a western studio where imagery and pattern development ideas differ from traditional Indian patola (double ikat designs specific to Patan, Gujarat). The workshop I taught in Lodz, Poland was based on this research. We used plant based natural dye on cotton warp to develop our color.
A group of international students convened at the Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź, Poland to participate in “Resist!,” a two week intensive course on designing and dyeing cotton warps with red and yellow plant based dyes. Participants from Poland joined with other textile artists from England, Iceland, Ireland, and Spain. The academy is home to an extensive and well respected textile art, design and fashion program. Students wove on looms from historic mills that populated the city since the 19th century.