For over a year now, I've had this idea about layers. About a base cloth with a layer that is a repeat pattern - or fragments of one - stitched over top, or made in a reverse applique fashion. And for some reason, this idea has stuck. And for some reason, in my mind, the form of this layer is like a scrolling flourish and also somewhere between a kind of baroque pattern and a middle eastern tile-styled pattern. And I can't see the exact design yet (unless it's going to develop from one of those shown in the image below). But the idea stays with me.
Sketch book scraps.
And for some reason, I have a feeling that it needs to be constructed with a very thin cloth, because it also needs to be light and floaty.
And I'm sat here looking at all of my recent indigo dye results (note that there are more today) and wondering if this is it. Because these are long, narrow, strips of muslin that would make great scarves, or at least, a great scarf.
My layer on the top of these indigo patterns could be in white, subtle as a ghost. Or in black, which would probably make a pretty bold design statement. Or, perhaps it would be more interesting to use one of these as the base cloth and another one as the top layer, so you hardly even noticed at first. And maybe I could do kantha stitch only over the layered part?... Now that idea has me thinking about ways to add texture to what would be for all intensive purposes a virtually invisible pattern!
Now there's an idea!
Not that I have any time to embark on such an extravagant journey of exploration! Because, lord knows, the kind of thing I have in mind, would be intricate and probably require months and months to piece together, and just as long to stitch!
The last time I was here at the farm, I decided to try my hand with indigo again. The first time I tried this - almost a year ago to the day - wasn't very successful. The cloth turned blue, a pale forget-me-not blue. It was pretty. But not what I'd hoped for.
I only have a few ounces of indigo powder, so my vat is limited. A glass specimen jar. With not even enough dye to sufficiently cover the small pieces of cloth that I'm adding. And I know that's not how it's supposed to be done. Particularly with indigo. But there.
This time, I added a secret ingredient ;) I prepared a couple of pieces of seconded muslin and popped them in. Then I went away for 3 weeks. And here are the results.
I really like the one on the right.
Now I know that I can get indigo to do something for me at least, I'm going to try and improve my techniques. But first of all, I will have to find a way to get more indigo powder and enough muslin to keep at with!
A pirate ship! It's amazing what you see when you're looking!
Grace, the images below are of octopus egg sacs. Karin told me. I'm so excited by this fact. I've collected more since I posted about the first one (when I still thought it was some kind of shell). Unfortunately, most are broken. But I'm delighted with the thought of all of those baby octopi that must be pulsing through the Golfo Dulce right now! :)
Not so much with the "hilos de oro" ("golden threads") jellyfish that stung us this morning!
It looks almost like sunrise, but it is the moon last night. When we have a full moon here in the early months of the year, it rises above the sea, and then you can see a slither of silver on the horizon (hazy at the bottom of the image).
Today, Nilo had the idea to collect more berries of the plant Conostegia subcrustulata (Melastomataceae) for cloth dying. The berries yield a royal blue-purple color, which always seems so promising. We prepared some small cloth scraps for dying.
We've experimented with these berries before. You'll find more about that here.
Inspite of the strong intial color, I've never had any sucess with this particular experiment. I had thought it might work if I added alum as a mordant and boiled the cloth. It didn't work!
But nevermind! There was still a few ounces of logwood grey powder. So I threw it all back in the pan and boiled it up again...
... and now I have some nice ghost shibori for a future cloth.
I'm very pleased with this. Here, it looks a little greyer than it actually is. The darker tones are more of a sea green than grey. I love this technique.The practical fact of bringing tradition into the now! And we all know who we have to thank for this...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR JUDE. I hope that you're having a magical day and I send you lots of ❥❥❥❥
There's something exquisite about small hands making.
A first try on a cardboard loom. Something about a Southern Cross to this one.
Using a makeshift loom (an old quilting frame with 1cm notches cut) I tied some cords as a guide and wove columns of calico.
I thought the cords would make it easier, but in the end I'm not sure how accurate the thought was.
Once columns and then rows had been woven I cut the cords and pulled them through, releasing this cloth.
I like it alot! It's so soft, that it actually feels wooly. Have to leave for town soon. Back to the construction work. Now there's a stark contrast! Sad that there's no time left to try stitching on this cloth.
Last Sunday, I worked a little while on my latest cloth. The "bird habitat" cloth. Trying to keep it simple.
Just a layer of gauzy muslin, with a hand stitched outline. Perhaps too simple?
Don't know what I think of it. Whether to let it sit, or keep going, or simply forget about it and move on?
Originally, I had the idea to draw the outlines using a special pencil that, supposedly, transfers the design onto cloth by ironing. That didn't work at all. I tried steam ironing it on. I tried ironing it onto damp cloth. Either the design did not tranfer complete, or the pencil bled. So, back to the drawing board on how to get the design onto the cloth without drawing it out by hand again.
It's all about learning and process. Some things work and some things just don't work! For example, weaving with pure layers of indigo denim, looks and feels wondeful, but is murderously hard to stitch, because of the density of the layers that are created. I broke two quilting needles on the first row.... lesson learned!
On the way back to the farm yesterday evening (the first time I've managed to get home in 5 weeks!) I spotted this bloom on the roadside. How's that for an explosion of color. Brownea macrophylla (?) a member of the family Fabaceae. Makes a perfect center piece for the table.
By contrast, before we came home we stopped off at Playa Colibre (Hummingbird beach). I haven't been to the beach for over a year, even though we live on the coast. It was a bra and knickers affair, since I hadn't been expecting to go there. We swam in the Golf, in the cool of the late afternoon, and the water was very salty and very warm. At one point a turtle bobbed in the water a few meters behind where we were. And on the way back to the car I found this shell. I've never seen anything quite like it. Pale, and thinner than paper. I wonder how it survived the journey from ocean to shore?
I have been thinking alot this week about time and about the things - which are not really things at all - that are most important to me. And how it's probably wise for a person to review these points on a daily basis. And how it's probably wise for a person to weigh each one against the other, and adjust one's settings as needed. Because, as we know, it's all too easy to fall into the trap of living life on a default setting! And, perhaps because I have been thinking about these points, or perhaps through sheer coincidence, several poignant conversations with different people have occurred this week, which in some way, have helped bring me to a deeper understanding of...hmmm... the things which are most important to me. And so in the spirit of sharing, and also in an effort to make a note to self, in today's post, I'm just throwing some of that "out there". Although, admittedly, in a kind of rambling way :)
Yesterday, at work, I had a brief but, to me, profound conversation, with a special friend (who is also a fellow consultant on the project), about... hmmm... I suppose you could call it approaches to life. We were talking about some people we know, who manage their day according to a timed schedule, literally moving from one activity to the next. Let's say, 7 'till 9, yoga. 9 'till 10, breakfast. 10 'till 12 tennis. etc, etc. And we were discussing how that's how these people have "fun". And we were imagining how that kind of life style might be, and thinking that it didn't seem to allow for any time to reflect on the "fun" that might be being had. And we both realized that, as much as the activities we like to do ourselves, what makes them worth while as far as each of us is concerned, is the moment for reflection. And of course, not everyone's the same! But it got me thinking about how, those moments are really the most important thing to me. Fleeting as they may be. And a good example of what I mean being, this particular conversation that we were having... sitting on the grass, in the shade, by the edge of the lake, and really being in the moment. And really appreciating the value of that. And really feeling the layers of meaning attached. Then we got back to work. In the blazing sun, on an open grass plain, surrounded by a constant flow of heavy equipment, and the air (and our skin) covered by a blanket of dust rising up from the roads, as is so typical of this place at this time of year, in this season of unimaginable dryness. The whole conversation lasted maybe 5 minutes. But for me, the moment felt somehow life defining. In a some small yet powerful way. Weaving complexity, yes, but at the same time, perfect in it's simplicity. If you know what I mean ;) And it makes me think of something Jude said here.
I continue to be kept busy with work. Very long days. And very long evenings. So I haven't had a chance to focus on my current cloth. But in my head it is moving slowly forward. And on paper I've come up with this, which will be somehow incorporated with what already exists.