Friday, 21 June 2013

Exhibition Ideas, & Exploring Eco Printing

Since my recent abdication from my office role in the family business, I have been able to spend much more time in the studio, and having cleared all current deadlines there was, for a moment, almost a sense of 'what now'? My mind instantly turned towards ideas I have been having for several years now about an exhibition of stitched and dyed wall works that I would like to do (diverting from my wearable art roots and trying to get off the body and back onto the wall!!). I picked up my sketchbook on the subject, and enjoyed a wander through the pages, and instantly my mind was buzzing. I had actually done quite a lot of experimentation and documentation on this, starting in 2010, so it was extremely easy to dive back in. Within days there was another trip back to the historic Balmoral Cemetery for more photos, and some experimentation with silk cocoon strippings, machine embroidery on organza, and some dyeing.
Dyeing - well, I've never been really fussed on the eco-dyeing/printing with leaves thing, as I do love my bright colours. Yet suddenly it seemed to be the perfect solution to my desire to create subtle, layered-with-meaning textile pieces. Not only did I have this revelation, but I received Wendy Bailye's newsletter mentioning the opportunity to do a 4 day workshop in sculptural felt dress making and eco printing with guest tutor Pam de Groot, a felter and eco-dyer extraordinaire! Serendipity much?!!
Of course, unable to wait until then, I have brought out my copy of India Flint's book 'Eco Colour', which I really only bought for its' beautiful images, never imaging I would actually play with these techniques! I collected some leaves from the bushland around the cemetery, and rolled them up in some silk organza and steamed them for half an hour. Very subtle colouring on one, and some quite red leaf prints on the other - not too bad a start!

A bit more reading and I decided to throw some metal into the mix. Luckily, I live with the Metal Man, whose workshop used to be in my current felting studio. I simply looked down into the gravel floor to find wonderfully rusty pieces of metal, including hand forged 100 year old nails. Perfect!! I asked if he had any copper or steel pipes I could use, and of course he did, so I soaked my silk habutai in vinegar and wrapped the leaves and metals in it and tied the bundle around the copper pipe. I then steamed it for a couple of hours in my fabulous shibori steamer - an old oxy tank with the top cut off - perfect for holding pipes upright!

More reading has taught me that the longer you leave these things the better they will get - I could see results already, but managed to leave it overnight. Today I have noticed even more depth of colour, especially that of the copper verdigris-green - delicious!! How long can I wait before unwrapping this beauty?!! I'm just not sure - stay tuned.......!!
The photo does not do it justice - there is seriously gorgeous green happening in there!

Still on the eco theme - Matt mentioned this week that he had seen a cotton bush in flower in the median strip on the way to work. Knowing how much I liked the sample of cotton fibre he had dragged off a fence in Dalby for me, he offered to go and dig it up for me - and now we proudly host a cotton bush in the back yard! It's absolutely fascinating, and watching the buds open is really quite magical! Not quite sure what I'm going to do with the cotton fibre, but - who cares!!

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