The weight of water ...


... might hold our dreams when we're landlocked

or frame our life when we don't swim

and although great tonnage can be moved by engines across its wide expanse,

silk floats effortlessly in a moonlit tide pool ...

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Beyond Layers is having an Instagram-ish week.
This is my offering for the prompts  water  and  dreamy ...
multiple processing using Infinicam.


Undressed in blue


Aside from the beaded inset around the yoke,
she's crafted entirely of dupioni silk ... head to toe, gusset to gusset.

Destined now to be ripped and shredded...

for she's headed to the dye pots.

A lucky thrift store find
and for a mere three dollars and fifty cents,
a most exquisite canvas for some plant magic, wouldn't you say?

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Beyond Layers is having an Instagram-ish week
and todays prompt is something blue...
Alas, there will be no Instagram in my future (no cell phone reception down my driveway)
so I'll be participating in the " -ish " category.
Kim Klassen thinks of everything  ;>]]
Used one effect from Pixlr-o-matic & added 3 layers of Scratchcam.


The circle that binds


There are many things to astound as one hangs over a dye pot and in a curious twist of timing
a question I've been asking myself presented a sealing wax answer.
The question was, why am I spending so much time learning about natural dyeing
when I could be spending all this time on stitching and beading?
Surely there is enough dyed fabric available to use as it is ...

Let me backstory just a little to fill in some blanks ...

Our merry band of shibori stitchers here on the island has morphed a bit 
into a quite smitten (still merry!) band of natural dyers and we've been meeting regularly to 
dip into uncharted waters (so to speak).  It's been a wild time with some raucous experimenting.
We met last week and one member brought a  HUGE  selection of clippings to share ...
that's her garden above, so lovely ...
in the mix was a red-leaved barberry (Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea sp.) which produced
such a yummy mauve it caused considerable swooning.  Much swooning, in fact.

She was very productive that day.
What a stash!

But I digress ...
the dye pot had been so full there wasn't room for many bundles
so this generous owner of said barberry shrub offered to let us come and clip some more,
should we have the desire ~
which I sorely did.

I brought my treasure bag home and chopped up everything - leaves, stems, thorns, everything, 
and put the pot on to simmer, marveling at the brilliant red color
before covering tightly to raise the heat quickly.
Inside, I wrapped my bundles and periodically stepped out onto the porch to give the brew
a stir.  This took a fair bit of time ... one-burner hot plates are not the Ferrari's of the heating world.

In about an hour, I raised the lid and was engulfed in the magnificent aroma of steaming roses.


I kid you not.

It was then I knew for sure and my question finally had an answer:  the mystery of plants 
has long held me in its grip ... I am a 
flower floozie and plantaholic from way back, a garden "ho"... does it not make complete and utter sense
that I'm now captivated by one more of their alluring properties,
their ability to dye cloth?

I see what's happened now ... I've come full circle.

Here was the barberry shrub in the garden (far right)

...and here it is on the cloth.

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Resting quietly in the shade until unwrapping day, July 30th ...


Bliss and grunge...


As it happens sometimes, I found myself playing around with some images
without any particular direction in mind
or intent...
other than, perhaps, the intent to avoid "pretty flower" photos.
Do you ever feel that way...unable to stomach one  M O R E  beautiful posy picture?

No offense meant, it's just that I need to be heading somewhere else at the moment...

away from literal and more towards how a scene *feels*...

Without a doubt my garden makes me feel blissed-out, especially at this time of year
near high summer, when all the plants are busting out of themselves in vegetative exuberance.
Then, there's all that late evening light
putting its own dramatic spin on what's going on out there...

but there's more to it and its hard to explain...

I add grunge (funny photo term) to what might be "a pretty scene" while I ask myself, why?  
What I realize is,
I'm doing the same thing with image making 
that I do with cloth and stitch and beads:
trying to tell a story.

And with any kind of storytelling,
sometimes it's just better to leave out some of the obvious.

There's a mini-revolution happening at the moment and although I'm not much of a "joiner," 
I'll readily admit to my voluntarily participation in the phone photography revolution.
I happen to think it is one of  the most  freeing
(as in, getting unstuck OR finding a way to express oneself in the first place) 
forms of creativity out there...so accessible to so many,
no rules, shoulds or shouldn'ts...
just a fantastic way to play with light and color and special effects that will
 rock your grandma right outta her traditional chair.

Here's a wee example of just how much change can happen...

This is a straight shot right from my phone camera.

No tweaking, no alterations of any kind.
High noon, hideous light, super contrasty...boring.

Here's (maybe) a not so boring interpretation with some vintage effects and old-timey blurs.
Leaves a little something to the viewer's imagination

and for now, that suits me just fine.

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If you happen to be in a similar artistic mindset, may I suggest a worthwhile read...
Nicola Taylor wrote something today over on the Shutter Sisters blog
and her title sums it up splendidly:  on finding your own way...
Nicola left her career as a stockbroker and not believing she had any creative voice at all
made a life-changing discovery to the contrary.
In her words:
"It's one of those magical things that happens when you just let go
and allow the story to have an ending you didn't envision."
Read her heartfelt post  HERE.


Interior motives


The best laid plans, as they say...except when it comes to mark making with plants
and other sundry items,
it might be best to put ones expectations aside.
Here is the outcome from  last week's science experiment...

Things were going along quite swimmingly with my idea to stuff two pieces of cloth
~ one, 100% silk, and the other 100% ramie ~
with identical ingredients:  red cabbage, fresh young bracken leaves, a spiral coil of copper wire.
The wrapped bundles looked promising when they first came out of their simmered cabbage "soup"...
that is, until I got the not-so-bright idea of dribbling a tiny amount of full-strength vinegar onto Bundle #1
(shown in its "before" state on the left, HERE)
aaaarrrrgggghhhh,  the whole thing immediately went  P I N K
and worse still,
bleached out every mark except for the copper spiral.

Since you never learn anything the second time you're kicked by a mule,
I decided to leave well enough alone...

Bundle #2 was put up to dry
and Bundle #1 was, well, put out to pasture?

In the meantime, a potful of gorgeous darkblueypurpley dye was still sitting there
and I couldn't bear to throw it away...what if...
so I tore the sleeve from a silky thrift store blouse, wrapped it around a chunk of driftwood 
with some rusty metal bits
and after a good stew overnight and five days rest,
the binding came off...

time, oh yes, time is your friend.
These are priceless words from a wise, wandering alchemist.

The driftwood soaked up quite a lot of color.  In fact, the cloth felt quite dry as I peeled it open
while the wood was still heavy from the moisture.
And it smelled like a big boiled cabbage, tah boot!

Dry down knocked that pink back to a pale lavender, but the blues stayed quite true.

The next thing that happened
reminded me of school days.  Ever try to use that line,
"Sorry teacher, but my dog ate my homework"?

True to her nature, Quinn ate my bundler.

But the "homework" was safe.

: : : :

Special thanks goes out to Dianne, who recently posted a series of photographs
from her time in San Francisco...all processed with the Snapseed app.
They are glorious and she inspired me bigtime ~ I used the app for this post.
Please go see her images HERE.

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To everyone stateside celebrating the 4th this week, Happy Independence Day all!