Studying the ways of water ...


A few experiments from my last diving session with paper
These entailed using several varieties of watercolor & printmaker's paper;
frozen and fresh gleanings from the garden & hedgerow;
a steam bath, an onion bath, a mixed willow bath
and another that bordered on sage green;
alum pre-mordanting;
iron dipping & not iron dipping,
wrapping around pipes & layering between tiles.

The language of plants on cloth is certainly related to paper.  But not distantly,
like a 3rd cousin of your brother-in-law ... much closer, like siblings
who just don't live in the same state.
Water seems to me to be their shared vehicle
and I find it utterly fascinating how the exact same leaves can print
one way on cloth and another way altogether on paper.

: : :

"You don't have to be fully formed to get started on your work.  If that were true no one would ever start anything. But we live in a society were everyone wants to be a superstar and often find it difficult to be a beginner.  Think of all the great people and of their amazing journeys to reach the tops of their profession.  They were beginners who took action."

An inspiring quote by Terry Jarrard-Dimond
from her blog post,  Act On Your Ideas


Seeing thru paper


When the Lopez Island natural dyers gathered for this season's planning meeting
[ however wine-laden or deliciously food-laden the "meeting" may have been ]
there was a unanimous & resounding desire to next delve into experimentation
with paper.

We meet tomorrow for what we are calling
our 'Paper Dyeing Extravaganza'

I've got loads of prepping to do but as I sat at the computer this morning
looking over my past - and very few - experiences with this material,
I came across a bunch of Diana Photo app composites I'd made a while back.
They provided a bit of inspiration.

Admittedly, I feel awkward & hesitant with paper ...
while cloth feels familiar & welcoming, with paper I'm standoff-ish.
I love its qualities but I don't know or  understand  its workings yet.

Well, we all know the only way to get over that.


Then keep swimming 
& let nature work her very particular magic.


Found while walking


It's possible to determine the seasons here
by what is washing up on the beach.  The tides
bring oyster shells in early summer,
multitudes of itty bitty crabs
and the particular seaweed that prints red on cloth.
Driftwood is plentiful
bleaching & cracking like rough skin in the sunshine.

It's heaven for the dogs.  Quinn is exuberant over her stick-chasing swims
while Isla is content to quietly sniff every log
up and down the shoreline for as long and as far as you'll let her.
Simple pleasures
enjoyed while I beach comb.

A lovely poem flew into my mailbox this morning from American Life in Poetry.
Although referencing the other coast, there's a truth here
to be found on all of them ... and within all of us.
I thought you might enjoy it.

It’d been a long winter, rags of snow hanging on; then, at the end
of April, an icy nor’easter, powerful as a hurricane. But now 
I’ve landed on the coast of Maine, visiting a friend who lives
two blocks from the ocean, and I can’t believe my luck, 
out this mild morning, race-walking along the strand. 
Every dog within fifty miles is off-leash, running 
for the sheer dopey joy of it. No one’s in the water,
but walkers and shellers leave their tracks on the hardpack. 
The flat sand shines as if varnished in a painting. Underfoot, 
strewn, are broken bits and pieces, deep indigo mussels, whorls
of whelk, chips of purple and white wampum, hinges of quahog, 
fragments of sand dollars. Nothing whole, everything 
broken, washed up here, stranded. The light pours down, a rinse 
of lemon on a cold plate. All of us, broken, some way 
or other. All of us dazzling in the brilliant slanting light.

 : : :
photo processing notes:
images shot with iPhone
double exposure created with Diana Photo app
edited on an iPad with Snapseed & Stackables apps
copyright added online with PicMonkey

: : :
... and if you've ever dreamed about walking the entire coastline of the UK
have a peek over on Ruth's Coastal Walk blog.
She's just been to Rhossili Beach
and you will not believe the unspoiled beauty ....


Pennon takes flight


There's quite a lot of rigamarole involved in mailing a package to Australia.
A lot of addressing & declarations & valuing to be done
but true to my word to myself [which doesn't always happen]
I actually made my preset deadline of June 1st, stood in the slow post office line yesterday
with pen, tape & details
and sent my Solace pennon off to Andamooka.

I sure hope she gets there on time.

There's also quite a tale still to tell about creating this little flag for I chose to abort my first version 
covered in buttons because I'd messed up & not followed India's specs.  But I'll leave those details
for another post when all the photos have been edited and I've pulled my thoughts together.

There were attributes of this construction process that I really loved and in the end
flag #2 became a symbolic weaving together of many things I hold dear
and much of what I consider truth.
This was not at all where I thought I was going with flag #1 .... 
this went another direction entirely.
Much more personal,
much more about transparency

where fabric like silk organza can symbolize a veil,
where a narrow strip of indigo dyed cotton from a workshop 4,000 miles away
can symbolize the importance of always moving forward toward
the edges of places,
the boundaries of emotions
or past limits I do not want to set.

All the hours stitching were a gift of time which had me looking deep into what's passed
and reflecting on a whole bunch of tomorrows.  I wasn't to know when I started
that a bit of a health fright was headed my way [all reconciled now].
What began as a peace project aimed out at the world
suddenly became the exact path I needed to find my own.

Now my little pennon is crossing a great expanse of water
carrying my words on her ragged sleeve,
hurrying [through the good graces of the postal system] to join the 
collective poem about to be written
where she'll be dyed a rich blue, hang above a beautiful red desert ...
a most grateful guest of the elements
and time.



Sailing towards solstice


June 21st shall be here in no time and as I continue to stitch my flag
for the Solace Project
I can't help but marvel, thinking about so many hands at work just like mine around the world
also stitching with intention - attention - welcoming participation as I do
in this collective poetry project for peace.

My personal deadline for mailing to the far off way station of Andamooka, South Australia
is the first day of June.  This is to insure that should said package decide to go for
a short walkabout in the opal fields beforehand
it will still make it on time to join the party around India's indigo vat
when dipping begins.

Many souls have long since sent their flags for a timely arrival ... those I know of
have been added under the Solace project tab up in the header.
Wonderful stories surround these makings.
Spring continues her riotous dance of exuberance in my garden
but you can find me quietly at work with a needle 
under the green umbrella ...
you can't miss me, I'm the one with the collie at her feet ;>)

Till later, then ... when our flags meet under an Australian sun!


Alchemy in the pantry


It all began 423 days ago.

I gathered together these assorted fabric scraps [once all white] and without pre-mordanting,
rolled, bundled, squeezed and cajoled them into glass jars along with pieces of metal
and handfuls of vegetation.
Following the protocol within this little gem of a book,

I began a very  LONG  and interesting canning experiment ...
not only an experiment in patience [wasn't sure I could wait this long for the reveal!]
but in the science - and art - of preserving.

What would grandma say?
Go peek at what these jars looked like when I first put them on the pantry shelf
February 4, 2014 ...
over here

This is what they looked like right before I opened them two days ago.
The liquid had long since turned almost black.  They each contained iron bits 
so that made sense, but I wondered if I'd made a mistake & added too much.
Also, two of the jars had slightly rounded lid tops ...
were the contents rotting, or worse - putrefying into some gads-awful mess?

I need not have worried. And I should certainly know by now
that India speaks true words when she repeats, "Trust the process."

I flung them on the rosebushes in the hedgerow to dry.
There's often great changes between wet and dry so the short wait
to see that happen was almost worse than the entire previous year's wait.

Here they are dried and pressed.

Front & back views of 60/40 cotton/silk blouse remnant,
bundled with rose leaves & metal bolts
with 1/4 c. aged copper/vinegar modifier added to the jar.
[above on far right]

What amazes me: true spring green leaf prints, the smokey black-on-black tones
from the string marks, and that the liquid from the jar smelled faintly of rose petals.

Scraps of two cotton shirts each bundled with dry purple Norway maple leaves
and metal bits - nails & screws - with additional leaves packed around the edge of the glass.
The jar was then filled with leftover - very stinky - lobster mushroom dye bath.
[jar above in middle]

What amazes me: although the jar lid was "puffed up" there was nothing growing inside ...
no bacteria, algae etc. and the smell of lobsters had almost completely disappeared,
replaced by an earthy scent; the cuff, which took color like a sponge.

I've left my favorite jar for last ... although in my earlier post I forgot about
this linen hankie entirely because I stuffed it down the side of the jar
at the last minute as there was plenty of room left
next to the ripped up linen shirt jacket.
[jar above on left]

As for my favorite - the jacket piece - iron bolts
went into the jar bottom, then the cloth was bundled
with purple-black violas, madrone bark & 4 rusty landscape pegs.
Taking a precious cue from the book, I sprinkled a teaspoon of fireplace ash
into the mix.

What amazes me: navy blues from the violas, strong distinct graphics, heavy
saturation of color.  This is a very dense linen that was not pre-mordanted and I venture
to say with a great deal of certainty that I would not have been able to
achieve this result with a one hour boil-up and a bundle opening 3 days later ...

Alchemy in the pantry.  I am smitten.

: : :

There's a wealth of jars awaiting their openings over in India's virtual pantry ...
see everyone's experiments there
Click on 'The pantry' to view the collection.

So, WHO is next?
I'm so excited for the reveals!

Have been kicking myself that I didn't experiment with whole items of clothing
for although the wait was definitely worth it, the 'time price' we pay is quite hefty
and may as well yield more of a product than a torn sleeve & a color swatch, wouldn't you say.

Ah well.  Live & learn.  All valuable, all good.

But ... I'm off soon to find some large pickle jars!