On a sopping wet day in March my friend and I set out to Fourth Street in Berkeley in search of fabric and inspiration – and fabric!
We found both in a surprising new discovery. Color Loom.
Splashing down the back streets, dodging potholes, wind surfers, and an occasional swarm of hungry pirhana, we saw a beacon of color calling to us from an unassuming corner. The street was so flooded that we needed a gangway, a dinghy, and water wings to get near the door. We burst through the entrance and into a fabric wonderland. So worth braving the rapids!
I am a bit if a visual junkie (OK, a total visual junkie), and I need constant visual input to keep my mind busy and the creative energies flowing. I watch anything on TV that has people painting, designing, or talking about their art. I spend a lot of time looking at photographs on the seminal website MyModernMet.com. So, finding a new source of color, texture, and fabric is a total JACKPOT! I win!
Inside the store are three enfiladed rooms full of the most amazing silk and wool fabrics and textiles from India, Bengal, and more!
The front room has the scarves including these silk Bandhini scarves. Each sunflower seed-shaped point is created from a grain of rice that has been tied into the fabric before the dying process.
I have no idea how the dying is done to get these colors, but they are so rich and vibrant it’s amazing. They are also soft and light as a feather.
The middle room has a large selection of pillows and bed coverings.
I was absolutely in love with this patchwork, queen sized throw. It is made of long strips of silk pieces sewn together and stitched with long running stitches in three colors.
The other side of the blanket is an entirely different look. It is called Ghudri embroidery. I was enthralled with the stitching, being handwork challenged myself, and I tried to imagine sitting all day and stitching these blankets. But I just COULD’NT!
This hand-embroidered Kantha shawl was another drool-over item. This style of embroidery is done in West Bengal, and the style often includes motifs from daily and village life or animals. The color, the detail, the motifs – Yumbalia!
In the last room there is a big showroom of fabrics that the company produces themselves in silk, cotton, and wool. You can buy by the yard, the bolt, or by special order. This was where we found some amazing Ghudri scarves. Again – the color was spectacular – you just want to eat it!
My mind was spinning at how beautiful these amazing textiles would look in my quilts. It would be so rich and luxurious and exciting! A chair make of silk, a quilt with that gorgeous Ghudri embroidery, a piece of that emerald green sari in something – mind-blowing!
I was thinking, how can I use this fabric? I can’t cut it up. Silk is really hard to work with. I will spend this money and wreck it! Ugh!
So often I hear quilters and crafters say, “I could never…” I could never use that fabric. I could never use silk. I could never make my own pattern. I could never do curves. You get the picture!
I know the feeling. When I started quilting I made only quilts with squares, because, “I could never make triangles! They are too hard!” But we all know in our hearts that we can use ANYTHING we can get our hands on! If anyone on the planet can sew silk, why can’t we? If anyone else can design something, so can we. It is about taking risk, being brave, being open to the possibilities that happen as you go, and being willing to compromise and improvise. I find that when a project doesn’t go as planned, it sometimes turns out even better. Being willing to take a chance and fail is brave – and you can do it! I say so.
If you get out to Fourth Street any time, check out Color Loom at 1425 4th Street. You will be so inspired and excited! They also have a wonderful website for more info at http://www.colorloom.com.
I guarantee you will never go on as wet a day as we did! But if it’s raining, take a paddle just in case!