Slow Cloth Feels Like Home

18 May

creationCan’t express the satisfaction of getting back to a slow cloth project.  Was accepted into a local show for Saturday–The Montford Music and Art Festival-and have been eco printing like a maniac.  But all the while I was needing needle in hand and so here, a cloth with stitches and eco printed silk scraps sample scraps.  Just a,start, really–moving into working with needle on silk, and I have to say it stitches like a dream.

Forecast for Saturday initially was pretty grim–rain and thunderstorms–but each day it’s a tad better so fingers are crossed.  I have plenty of inventory ready and would love to sell some

eco print art.003This one was dyed in logwood and then printed with sourwood, eucalyptus, weld from my garden and yellow onion.

I’ve also removed all of my bowls from the Woolworth Walk venue in downtown Asheville.  Scarves are there now and we’ll just see what happens.

IMG_3462

The Problem with Multi-tasking

2 May

Probably should say the “problems” with multi-tasking.

I hear people saying things about this process–this multi-tasking phenom–expressing thoughts on both sides of the opinion poll.  Comments as simple as, “Yes, I can,” and “No, I can’t.” I fall somewhere in between.  And the truth is I don’t really like to do it–multi-task, that is.

Because although I am able to do several things at once, the bottom line is that I’m really lousy at staying “present” when I do.  Lousy at remaining centered, mindful.  Very lousy.  And I manage to build up a lot of mental activity that ends up feeling like a heavy rat’s nest.  (You can probably tell, just by reading this.)  And basically, all of this interferes with my intentions, which I won’t go into, but they surely aren’t to provide residency  for “heavy rat’s nests.”

This morning I knew what I wanted to do.  Wanted to decompress from a socially busy weekend.  At least busy for me, a closet introvert. And I wanted to post new scarves on my website—   because I’m doggedly  trying–without huge success–to harness what-i-hear is the power of internet marketing.   Although I swear you couldn’t prove it by me.

Part of the reason it’s hard for me is that from one week to the next I forget how to do things–forget how to upload images ( something is seriously wrong with my pc/apple relationship), forget how to navigate WIX which hosts my “store.”  And the time this forgetting/re-figuring takes is keeping me from exploring eco printing.  Keeps me away from the process that currently (and I say currently because, well who knows….) provides this avenue of expression that’s begging air-time.

I guess this post is simply an exercise in grumbling.  Sometimes that’s how it goes.

From Primitive Icons to Ecoprinting

10 Apr

 

One night in 1990 I awoke from a deep sleep knowing I needed to set free–release–my primicons.  Primitive icons.  This need to create had a life of its own.   I started with rebar wire and paper mache.  Added wood chips to the mix–and paint.  Later covered the wire with muslin.  Anything that would hold shape.  I worked late into the nights.  My kitchen was no longer a place for meal preparation so much as an abode for these guys.  Years later when my dad gifted me a pile of rusted corrugated industrial roofing and an acetylene torch, their shape and stature grew.

I don’t know where these entities come from–or why.  But they’re still demanding “air time.”  And that is the dilemma I’m facing with eco printing.

I love what I consider to be the magic of eco printing.  Love the surprises.  The constant barrage of “what ifs?”  Love trying to understand why the various elements act and react as they do.  So there’s all of this.  And now I find myself moving into a different phase with the process.  Moving towards the things inside me–the ubiquitous primicons –that want out.

Primicons are the expressions that come out of me.  In truth, there are other forms I would like to explore–more palatable forms perhaps–but after almost 30 years of living with these beings, I accept that they are here to stay–will probably follow me into the great beyond.

They’ve been patient with my yearlong exploration of eco printing but today I experienced a minor revolt.  They want OUT.

deer2deer1

So I’m “experimenting” with process.  How to create in a way that eco prints and primicons can co-exist while maintaining the sustainable, environmentally benign characteristics of eco printing?

These  first, initial experiments have a ways to go.  And although I have concerns about their appeal–appeal of the primicon–clearly it’s a  moot point.

 

 

The History of Color: Himalayan Rhubarb and Yellow Onions

8 Apr

Himalayan Rhubarb:   a traditional natural dye from the Himalayan  mountains between India and Bhutan.  The plant grows in altitudes from 3-5000 meters and yields a deep golden yellow color with an alum mordant.  Shifts in pH will create more yellow or nearly brick red colors.  The dye is aromatic and earthy smelling .

Color amazes me.  Amazes me for several reasons.  The least of which is simply that I often take it for granted. But my sojourn into natural dye  has opened my eyes to both the significance and history of color.  To put this into perspective, just think– this country, the United States, has a history of a few hundred years. Whereas the color yellow has roots dating back to  the caves of Lascaux where we find  a yellow horse estimated to be 17,300 years old.  To say it again, I’m amazed by color.

I’m intrigued that thousands of years ago, people discovered the value of plant stuff–both as medicine and as color sources.   And since I’m also intrigued by most things Tibetan, it’s no surprise that when I came across Himalayan Rhubarb, I was compelled to try it out.

In her classic compilation, Wild Color, Jenny Dean says that “In Himalayan regions, species of rhubarb are particularly valued for their contribution to the dye pot. In parts of Tibet and Ladakh, and among Tibetan refugees in Nepal, rhubarb root is the most common source of yellow dye, and species of rhubarb have long been sought after locally. The roots are dried, chopped up, and ground into powder before use, and give strong, fast shades of yellow, gold, and orange.”

So here:  experiments with Himalayan Rhubarb–the left is a lousy image–in real life the yellow is very rich.  And the color on the right–HR with a modified PH–in otherwords, I added washing soda to the water and this is what happened.  Can’t you see why I love this so much!

And the significance of colors in Tibet?  Yellow:  Yellow symbolizes rootedness and renunciation. Buddha Ratnasambhava is associated with yellow. The nose is represented by this color. Earth is the element that accompanies the color yellow. Yellow transforms pride into wisdom of sameness when visualized in meditation.

dalai-lama

I had so wanted this garment to be Himalayan Rhubarb.  It’s not.  This yellow comes from onion skin.  Another powerful source for symbolizing rootedness and renunciation.

HB 2 and Mollusks

6 Apr

Now I don’t claim to be an authority on mollusks or clams.  In fact I had to read up on them.  This morning I was contemplating the very wonders of this shell–a shell I called a  IMG_3208-001

clam.  It’s beautiful to behold.  And I wondered what the white patch was, figuring it was an attachment point–and then wondered about its genesis.  I began seeing a finger–a pointing finger and I listened to what it was asking of me. Heard a whisper of the lesson wrapped up in this fragile remnant of life.

How had it come to be, this what-was-once a luminescent creature?  Where had its life begun?  Where had it been?  And what were the odds that from inception to now, it would end up on my sitting bench?

From mollusks to humans, isn’t it clear that some higher energy/force/being (whatever name you put on it) creates miracles, not mistakes?  Tell that to our legislators.

There’s a correlation here between the perfection of creation–be it mollusk or human– and the arrogance of the NC General Assembly.  If there is any doubt, just check out NC HB2.  Discrimination at its best.

 

 

Natural Dyeing & Printing Workshop

1 Apr

I seem to be good for about 5 hours before sensory overload kicks in and I CAN NOT ABSORB another bit of info.  Like a sponge unable to take in one more drop.  It’s a weird feeling.  Sensory and mental too-muchness.  The workshop–down in Asheville’s River Arts District–is being offered by Catherine Ellis.  Weaver, shibori  and natural dye expert and all ’round source of an amazing amount of information.

Last year I took her natural dyeing course but this year’s add-on–printing with natural dyes–takes the process to an entirely different level.  Working with indigo, madder, cochineal, weld etc.

image

Checking reduction of indigo vat.

Learning amazing techniques for printing with color onto color.  And thinking of ways to incorporate all of this into Eco printing. image

The Language of Leaves

 

On Mindfulness

30 Mar

Have been wondering this–about mindfulness– wondering if I really know what it is. I thought I did until I reflected back upon yesterday.  And I will bring this full circle but first–

Yesterday I was very busy.  In the morning I set up the backdrop for a photo shoot. Involved wrangling two large stands against a brick wall and hanging a black background cloth.  At 10 a friend came over–modeled scarves to be added to the website.  One hour to visit & one hour to shoot. Quick lunch.

Then checking shipping options on website–could I find an app to calculate shipping based on zip code instead of just listing a flat rate?  Found nothing.  Worked on trying to download pics from ipad to pc.  PC  not recognizing Ipad.  Called Apple–on hold 28 minutes–finally spoke to a person who asked for my contact number because we had a poor connection–he said.   Muttered a few choice words when he didn’t call back then returned to laptop.  Pics were there.   (I’ll never figure this out.)  But the color from this morning’s shoot was totally different from the color of the previous afternoon–so a morning-light scarf looked nothing like the afternoon-light scarf.   Marveled over this a while.  The color of light.

And in the afternoon light I reshot some scarves.  A neighbor dropped in for a few minutes–dropped off potatoes.  Back to capturing images.

Then back to the “lab” as my sister calls it–she says other things, too, and hints that perhaps I’m a mad scientist–or a brewer of wild concoctions–of the witchy variety.  Rinsed and fixed four eco printed scarves from the previous day.

 

Caught up in the depth of the color and images–leaves floating on water–a pond–blue water–a magical place.  Then lots of this and that before retiring for the night.

Now back to mindfulness.  I felt very present during the day–totally immersed in what I was doing–focused.  Intentional. But I’ve always thought that mindfulness meant being aware that I’m practicing being mindful–like creating a space from where I observe self going through the day’s gymnastics.  And no, I wasn’t paying attention to how  I was maneuvering the flow of the day–but present to the what that I was doing.  In retrospect I was just right there.  Absorbed in each activity.  So I guess the question becomes–is being present the same thing as being mindful?

I’m wondering simply from a place of curiosity–nonjudgmental–just wondering.

(A sidebar:  Just now I typed the word “in”–except my hand had moved to the right by one key.  One over from what I was taught is the “home” position.  Try it. )

OM

 

 

 

 

www.thelanguageofleaves.com

 

 

 

Piercing the Veil of Reality

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Natural Dye: Experiments and Results

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It's Crow Time

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