Indigo-dyed Ikat pattern scarves in combinations of silk, bamboo, cotton and wool:
Weaver Ellen Good established her home studio in Ompah, Ontario after receiving a BFA in textile design from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1981. She has been creating one of a kind and limited production textiles ever since.
Ellen feels that being active in the natural landscape is necessary to her creative process. Her log house is located in the beautiful, rugged landscape close to the Mississippi system of rivers and lakes. Hours spent at the loom or hovering over dye pots are balanced in the summer by time spent canoeing, kayaking, swimming, gardening, and cutting wood in preparation for cold weather. Winter activities include cross country or downhill skiing as well as shoveling snow and feeding the wood stove. Ideas for new work or solutions to technical problems often appear spontaneously during these activities.
She has worked extensively with specialized dye techniques such as Ikat and Loom Controlled Shibori to create colourful patterns in handwoven fabric. These dye techniques are intrinsic to the woven process rather than a secondary consideration. Her work makes use of natural, fibre reactive, and vat dyes and colour discharge. The dyes are applied during different stages of the weaving process to produce colorful designs in the woven material. Ikat is a dye technique whereby yarns which are wound to a measured length are tightly bound and then dyed. The bound or wrapped areas resist the dye and remain a natural colour which produces pattern when the ties are removed and the yarn is threaded on the loom and woven. The scarfs featured at General Fine Craft were dyed in this manner, first with Indigo dye and then with fibre reactive dyes. The scarfs are woven with cotton, silk, tencel, wool and/or bamboo.
Her work has been sold at local and not so local craft shows and galleries, and she has taught weaving and dyeing at guilds, schools, and conferences. From 2001-05 she was coordinator of the MERA (MacDonalds Corners and Elphin Recreation and Arts) Heritage Weaving Project in MacDonalds Corners, Ontario which was funded by a Trillium grant from the Ontario Arts Council. One aspect of the job was to develop a training program to teach local women production weaving. The MERA weavers continue to produce handwoven items in the weaving studio established in the MERA community centre during that program.
In September of 2006 Ellen curated an exhibition of pioneer textile production artifacts at the Rideau Canal Museum in Smiths Falls. This exhibit became the basis for the book Fabrics of Pioneer Life: Tools of the Textile Arts authored by Ellen. The publication of this book in September 2007 was also generously funded by the Ontario Arts Council.
In 2009 she was awarded the first annual MERA Award for Excellence in Fine Art or Fine Crafts which is a juried award. From 2012 to 2017 she was a period re-enactor and interpreter at Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg, Ontario – demonstrating how weaving, spinning, and dying was done in a domestic setting in the mid 1800′s in Upper Canada.
Although she continues to give talks about the history of spinning and weaving in Upper Canada she now has more time for producing handwoven and hand-dyed textiles.
Indigo dying process / Ikat dying and weaving process: