Featured Artists

Featured Artist : Astrid Tauber

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Artist Bio / Statement

When I was 7 years old, my mom signed me up for a series of craft classes at a local store. Little did I know that all these years later I would be a girl who can shear a sheep, spin balanced yarn, and weave my own fabric to create garments.

Fiber was the chrysalis that took me from a painfully shy girl who looked like a deer in the headlights
anytime someone approached me to a young lady who has found her voice and the confidence to be heard.

While I have dabbled in many aspects of fiber arts, my true love is weaving. I weave with both commercial and handspun yarns. The endless color and design options set my imaginative spirit on fire and occupy my thoughts constantly. I am always trying to push boundaries and be bold with the end-use of my handwoven fabric. It is quite typical for me to spend weeks or months to complete handwoven yardage only to cut it up the very next day to reinvent it.

In 2022, I entered fashion school as a dual-enrolled homeschooled high schooler. I consider myself exceptionally fortunate to live with a family that has taken the road less traveled when it comes to education. Fiber has become the foundation of my education.

Anyone who doubts that science can be learned through fiber has never analyzed the differing chemical structures of protein and plant fibers or experimented with different mordants. With a few animal fleeces and a slew of dyes and chemicals from Dharma Trading Co., I can accomplish more than many students do in a year of chemistry lab.

This project is an excellent example of that, so let’s dive in!

We must start at the very beginning, sheep #596. Shepherdess Elena Miller-terKuile of Cactus Hill Farm in Colorado numbers her sheep because her flock has grown to over 600 head. Their farm has a fantastic history. It was established in 1867 by Hispano settlers who received a land grant when Colorado was still part of Mexico. Their farm is certified organic and operates using the acequia water systems that were hand-dug many years ago.

I follow Elena’s farm on Instagram and had my heart set on purchasing one of her raw fleeces when they were listed. I was so thankful that she provided all the information ahead of time so I could compare my options and make a decision before the sale went live. At 2 am Eastern time, I was sitting at my computer and ready to spring into action for #596’s fleece!

The fleece weighed roughly twelve pounds. If you’re not a raw fleece fanatic, believe me, that is one big fleece! It arrived and it was even more beautiful in person. I quickly turned it around and sent it off to Battenkill Fiber Mill in New York. While I love working with fiber, I have learned that processing raw fleece is not something I am passionate about.

The amazing team at Battenkill washed, carded, and spun the fleece into beautiful singles for me. I also asked them to blend in silk (30% of the total) to add some shine and a slight anti-pill factor to the finished yarn. Once again, when it arrived, I was in love! The yarn was a stunning snowy white color thanks to Battenkill’s amazing cleaning techniques, but I had big color plans for this project.

Before we continue this journey, I must share a quick “glossary” of weaving terms. Weaving is made up of two components. The warp is the vertical threads that are placed onto the loom. The weft is the horizontal thread that interlaces between the warp threads to create fabric. For this project, I wanted to create a painted warp – more on that to come – and a semi-solid weft.

I began by winding the warp. To do this, I used a warping mill, and this process involved winding all of the threads to be placed vertically on the loom. Painted warps are warps that are dyed with strategic color placement to create a specific design and color palette.

The setup for this project took some serious brainstorming. I wanted a portion of my warp to have a painted dye style and a portion of my warp to be semi-solid so that I could create two coordinating fabrics on the same warp. For the painted warp, I utilized an “under bed” storage bin from Home Depot. I was able to lay my warps out with minimal bunching in this long container. I tied resists at the end of the painted warp section and placed the remainder of the warp in another bin that would have the dye bath for my semi-solid.

Before the dyeing commenced, I soaked my warp in a mixture of vinegar and Synthrapol for about 20 minutes to make sure everything was thoroughly wet and in an ideal state to take up dye. After the 20- minute period, I began adding a variety of blue acid dyes. Some were Jacquard and some were Dharma. The most dominant colors used in the project were: Baby Blue Eyes, Blued Steel, Periwinkle, Turquoise, and Teal. However, I will admit that as I continued working, I did dig into my stash of Dharma and Jacquard acid dyes and tossed in a little bit of this and a little bit of that where I felt I needed some extra contrast or a pop of color. I didn’t entirely pay attention to the colors I added because by that point I was in full creative mode and just rolling along with the process. We’ve all been there, right?

The process I utilized for this project was a combination of low immersion dyeing and sun dyeing. My two bin set-up remained in our steaming hot South Carolina backyard for the next three days. I checked it twice each day to monitor how the dyes were exhausting. One of the dyes I added during my unplanned creative frenzy was black. By day three that one hadn’t quite fully exhausted, but it was close. Black can be difficult to fully exhaust, so I decided the time had come to rinse, soap, and dry this beautiful yarn.

Here I am 1,000 words in and we haven’t even made it to the loom yet! Once the color work was complete, I wove the fabric. The design shown here is a 12 shaft pattern woven on my Louet Megado compu-dobby loom. I used the same wool/silk blend from Battenkill for the weft but left it undyed for a lovely snowy white contrast.

This warp produced about 9 yards of fabric and I utilized every inch of it for a variety of projects. However, one of the things I am most proud of is this pair of shoes. I learned about I Can Make Shoes in London about 3 years ago and instantly knew I needed to know how to make shoes!

This summer during my hiatus from fashion school, I registered for the online class and made my very first pair of Mary Janes. The entire outer of the shoe is handwoven and they fit like a glove. This is my first, but definitely not my last, pair of handwoven shoes! I cannot explain my love of fiber or my absolute need to create each day. It is possible that Fabienne Frederickson said it best, “The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.” I fell down a fiber rabbit hole many years ago and have followed the organic twists and turns of the journey. It has taken me places – both creatively and physically – that I could never have predicted. I am beyond excited to explore what lies ahead!

Contact Info

Dharma Products Used

Synthrapol Detergent
Jacquard Acid Dyes
Dharma Acid Dyes
Crystal Wash Technique (a form of "low immersion" dyeing)
Natural Yarns For Dyeing
Mordants, Color Changers and other Assists

Customer Comments
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