Creative Space kicks off textile arts workshops

BEIRUT: A class in Japanese fabric dying brought together a hodgepodge group of eight adult students – from a 20-something fashion designer to a curious middle-aged scientist.

“Shibori – it’s a Japanese dying technique using indigo,” said Denise Maroney, the young Lebanese American teaching the adult workshops.

This week marked the start of Creative Space’s textile seminars, all taught by Maroney and continuing throughout the month. Drawing heavily from Japanese technique, the classes are a one-of-a-kind exploration into textile design in Beirut and open to anyone with a little artistic curiosity.

Each of the workshops lasts two days, Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and is held at Creative Space’s Geitawi studio. Class space is still available, though limited.

Lessons in shibori are particularly relevant as New York Fashion Week raves on, with a number of trend-setting designers – such as Laura Siegel, Band of Outsiders and menswear designer Duckie Brown – showing shibori dyed or inspired pieces.

The various workshops, including arts like fabric painting and embroidery, will continue through the month of September and are geared specifically toward beginners.

“Students don’t need any skills,” Maroney assured.

In addition to shibori, Maroney’s next class – Sept. 17 and 19 – teaches Sashiko, a form of Japanese embroidery using a simple straight stitch as well as more lessons in indigo dying.

A class in silk painting later this month will test students’ creative and artistic limits as they explore various techniques using special dyes and salts. The end result will be unique silk scarves students can take home, organizers said.

The last week in September will offer amateurs an intro to embroidery, and will focus on a range of basic- and intermediate-level stitches.

The workshops are the beginning of what Creative Space managers hope to be a continuous series of adult classes that will help raise money for the non-profit organization.

Each two-day workshop ranges from $50 to $100, which includes all the materials needed for class.

All proceeds go to Creative Space, which is a non-profit designer collective. It teaches a small group of aspiring fashion designers – ones who wouldn’t otherwise have the resources or support to pursue their dreams – the foundations of clothing design.

As of now, the majority of the nonprofit’s income comes from donations and its seasonal clothing auctions.

Before teaching the ongoing seminars, Maroney played an integral role at Creative Space, volunteering her time teaching the group of designers how to dye and paint silks and create their own embroidery detail.

She stumbled on the group’s Web page many months ago, and she – like others involved at Creative Space – was drawn to its youthful energy and creative spirit, she said.

Maroney graduated from New York University in Manhattan and went on to do costume design for off-Broadway productions. She works in Lebanon as a multimedia artist, among other things.

For the future, the organization is looking for more skilled professionals and artists to help volunteer classes as part of this adult workshop series, which could include any artistic skills – even things like photography, Maroney said.

September’s classes in fabric painting and embroidery are just the start of Creative Space’s move to diversify its focus – and income.

At the launch of Creative Space’s fall fashion auction, managers hinted at hope for launching its own fashion label and partnering with universities, among other things.

This year the group was able to make enough money to move into a more permanent workspace and take on several new students, founder Sarah Hermez told The Daily Star in August.

Likewise, Maroney sees Creative Space as more than fashion-focused, hoping the classes will help broaden the collective’s reach to more types of artistic expression.

“It’s a great project. Everyone’s very eager to learn,” she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 14, 2012, on page 2.




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