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Making Do with Materials on Hand: Part 2

The search continues in Week 6.  Cloth, mark making and meaning.   A real adventure because work defines work in art.  Working turns surprises into ideas.

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My beachy paradise has been struck a chill for the past week,  but most days are at least in the 50′s. The storms coming across have blanketed the patio with leaves and pine straw. (Gotta collect those for later.)  It’s perfect weather for continuing my junk hunt around the rental house.

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The obvious stuff  on counter tops and in drawers- safety pins, paper clips, and steel wool – have all been pilfered in an effort to make marks on cloth.  Plastic baggies, tea bags, hydrangea blooms that dried on its stem.

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It has become a game to imagine what shape or color of degrading metal will occur when set in vinegar.  A ball of string, soaked in coffee yielded soft asemic curls on cloth.  Caligraphy through a dryer sheet with my precious walnut ink.   The orange tissue paper didn’t bleed a bit.  While lots of experiments fail, the game is getting harder but more interesting.

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While I wait for new discoveries, I’ve spent time taking small cues, making small stitches, taking pictures and learning some new things.

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I started a wishbone trapunto,  got muslin through my new printer,  dyed newsprint, experimented with a counterfeit detector pen, considered white-out as paint and used flower seeds for beads.  No cheese doodles  but… gutterradyeing.  And  Textile Art Center  has some thoughts on the topic.

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Happy hunting!

 

 

 

 

So Where is The Cloth? (Making Do with Materials on Hand)

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Cloth is a layered metaphor.  While my intent has been to discuss fabrics like cotton, linen or silk  and other materials of my art-making, I can use cloth to imply the intangible of ideas and meanings, like the cloth of my adventure: a very ragged, worn scrap, frayed at the edges, stretched as a shield, crushed between my fingers like a baby’s lovey, smoothing out slowing into a project.

With the cloth so transparent, I can see the movement of its meaning between two and three-dimensional art forms and the cloth of poetry, writing and story.  I am moving creatively between the forces of sight and sound in this place so full of beauty and profuse with newness.  Absorbing it all is today’s creative responsibility and sometimes all I can handle.

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While the act of making something is soothing , it is often difficult to jump toward trusting that notion and the known,  while so mired in the unknown.  The unknown presently radiates like awareness and armor. That shell is often hard to break – even with the known, even with stitches and cloth.

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My dye pots are deep in storage, so I can only gather leaves, learn their names, imagine their imprint on cotton or silk.  No boiling of essences right now, just studying, cataloguing, saving.  Textures of tree trunks, tracking the egret (outside my door), absorbing the light between shadows, memorizing the palette.

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In my Threads of Meaning Virtual Course, I must explain my process for the students,  admitting that getting started has been difficult during the transition.  I have confessed that it has been hard to pick up old projects let alone, start new.   I did bring a medium cardboard box of fabrics with me.  Sifting through them, in search of ideas is enough on one day.  Fascination with orange may be enough the next day.  After five weeks, I’m finding new ways to make do, process the constant newness and be kind to myself.

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Solitude, Poetry and MOOC

I learned a new word/acronym about a week ago.  Leave it to solitude, searching and poem as prayer to lead me to Massive Open Online Course(s) or as the cool folks say “MOOC.”

I have my trusty text to fall back on in moments of serious questioning.  I highlight and post-it anything I think will give me a clue.  Why here?   I’m actually teaching an online course – not massive or open, a humble course  by MOOC standards.  A course to cull creativity, visited by willing and open participants, in search of some creative spark  or direction, I guess, like me.  Threads of Meaning Virtual Workshop is running in Tumblr until the end of November and until we start a new session, as a way to tie my old life to my new. A way to not leave my followers flat in the wake of my life-move.  To stay connected for them and me.  Selfish? Generous?  A personal mission to prove we are all creative if we just know how to trap the thread.

So photos of nature’s poetry, excerpts of familiar poetry, writing my own poetry to capture the adventurous and tenuous essence of my journey and another stumble into a MOOC,  The Art of Poetry.

Robert Pinsky‘s The Art of Poetry is a touchstone-gift in the midst of viral loss and seclusion.  Why not employ the technology and the internet to stay part of a community.  Why not tap the genius of others?  Why not broaden the community in light of the solitary?

So I check into the wonderful resource of edX and The Art of Poetry, the natural world of the Low Country through the eye of my camera, the words found within and beyond, the possibility of unknown wealth unidentified.

 

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6

 

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Week 3: Low Country

Landing in Low Country, where it’s normal to be below sea level in most places, at any given time,  is in sharp contrast to the heights of the Summit.   After a 850 mile road trip,  it was a rather abrupt “bump,” if not a gentle crash into life without a schedule,  the solitude of anonymity and  dilemma of personal reinvention.  Life took control and we hopped the unexpected wave, ready or not.  Three weeks in,  I’m seeing why it’s worth it.

The metaphor of being underwater is tempting in the wake of daunting feelings of loss and doubt.  But I prefer to refer to the broad view of forest, marsh and ocean to signify unbound potential.  The deep breath of nature, above and beyond, drums a calming rhythm that is gradually quelling my northern hiccups.  The girth of 300 year old oaks, their  chandeliers of Spanish moss decorate nature’s banquet.  Bug and beast abound – the gnat and gator, and multitudes between speak big messages of note.

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Palm Fans

 

Sumac and Rust

No fireworks, but lots of positive results, after several tries.  I discovered, or really just noticed, a tree in our shop parking lot that looks like some variety of sumac (not poison).  Correct me with a comment if I’m wrong.

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Pale color, hoping for red on steamed paper.

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But instead, a beautiful orange sumac soup at the bottom of the steam pot.

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Pale linen from the first steaming was turned into bundles and dyed again in the sumac juice, turning different shades of  orange.  Small strips of linen were added to soak up every drop of this discovery.  Rust shapes were put on the flat cloth and the juice deepened further.

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The small bundles were made from the linen test strips that got some color from the juice.  Then, rose petals, leaves and pods were tightly wrapped into the strips.

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Another try at pressing leaves and steaming.  Rust added.

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Extra rust pieces are used to weight projects during drying.

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Patience…

Once White

We’ve been doing a lot of dyeing at my house these days and collecting of materials for the dyepot.  On most occasions, we enjoy the surprises that plants and metals bring to the cloth when mixed with the dye.   We enjoy using what’s on hand, salt and vinegar, the hard water from the sink.  We spent some time foraging birch tree parts, bark and twigs, after-winter nuts and their pods, steeping, boiling, dyeing cotton, linen and silk with very unexciting results.  Yes we learned a lot, but now it’s time to get serious, surprises aside.   I’ve been making  a silk dress with a linen overlay pretty much by hand.  And I want to know what to expect from my dyeing efforts after all the time spent on this garment.  Lots of it has been done by hand with a running stitch. DSCN2614 DSCN2615 So I’ve sourced some mordants from ProChemical and Dye.  I’m collecting materials for imprinting and studying up on expected results.  I introduced myself to our local flower shop owner, Kathleen of Alice’s Flower Shop.  We set up a pick-up day each week and this Friday I received this lovely, yet expiring hydrangea.  Thank you, Kathleen. DSCN2581 We separated the flowers, leaves and stems, DSCN2603 DSCN2602 gathered some dried materials, stalky and grassy, DSCN2606 DSCN2608 found some exciting metal objects with interesting shape and texture, DSCN2609 mordanted a batch of cloth in soda ash, bundled, dyed and recorded some results. DSCN2611 This is a turmeric solution that we heated.  I used turmeric because the color is rather intense with little effort, a good measure of leaf resist or imprint.  But time will tell.

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And the dyeing continues…