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.
I mentioned that we went to swim at Playa Colibre (Hummingbird beach) on Friday evening. Yesterday evening, we went there again. I've always been an avid beach comber, and enjoy picking through the flotsome and jetsome more than I do swimming. I took the camera and here are some images of a few things that the sea had left behind.
I am struck by the creamy pastel tones of these objects. And I've always loved the jacquard patterns found on many of the shells, each one unique. The range of forms and textures. Each object with it's own inherent story of a profound, journey in another world.
This is Playa Colibre. A sheltered slip of coastline on the Golfo Dulce (Sweet Golf), with a few remnant patches of Mangrove. Usually, we have the whole beach to ourselves.
Here's Nilo. Although he spends most of his time face down in the water with a mask, looking for fishes, he's only just realizing that, if he moves his arms and legs at the same time, he can actually swim. I explained to him that, most children find it hard to learn to swim because they're afraid of being underwater. But since he goes there to be under the water, he has nothing to loose.
Thanks to those who left comments on yesterday's post, with constructive advice about my "flock" as Christi called it. She passed me a link to the site of fiber artist Karen Franzen whose work depicts cranes and crows, (among other natural subjects). I remembered the work of an artist called Catherine Hamilton, which I was first introduced to by the artists sister, Lisa, who we happened to pick up on the road one blazing Summer's day four or five years ago, here on the Osa Peninsula. Catherine's work is hauntingly beautiful!
I still haven't decided if or how to move ahead with the "Bird Habitat" cloth. But even if it comes to nothing in the end (as so many of the things I start tend to do!) as always, these small journies, and the people that one meets along the way, make it all worthwhile! :)
I have fallen in love with Manya's fishes! For me, Manya's work is very special. Honest, lyrical, and clearly made with a fullness of heart.
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.
While still playing with the experimental cloth that I started in the New Year, I had an interesting accident. I was stitching a diamond motif in black thread on a fairly heavily woven, hand dyed linen. But half way through, I decided that it wasn't working out the way I had envisaged. So in order to remove this section from the backing cloth, I took the scissors and cut through the topside of the stitches and accidentally cut a chunk in the cloth as well.
Hmmm... this small hole looked kind of interesting. What if I made the motif by cutting at intervals, instead of stitching?...
I made small folds in the cloth along the edge of the roughly sketched pattern and began snipping away (image courtesy of my 8 year old son, Nilo, as it was not possible to hold scissors, make fold and take photo at the same time). I like this idea, of creating pattern with what's not there.
And when you think about it, that's like lace.
And I suppose, more often, one would think about using this in ways which would emphasize the pattern. For example, using the way that the light passes through the spaces...
...or, using the way that the darkness does. But I wondered what would be the result if I ignored the pattern altogether, and so I set the cloth back on the backing cloth and just started stitching.
And although the outcome was nothing to sing and dance about in itself (should have thought to use a pale thread instead of black, didn't even finish what I'd started), I really like the way that an echo of the pattern remains, and the way in which it starts to become a textural pattern. Another idea to develop in the future!
The experimental cloth looked like this the last time it was seen. I just wasn't happy with it. So it went through several tearing up sessions, (maybe that's what I most needed to do at the time?) a funny little scrolling motif popped into my head...
And then it became this... for a brief time! Still not happy, this new cloth got torn into single sections. And that's where it stands. Four small cloths (aprox.18 x 23 cm). Each interesting in their way. But... honestly... what I am going to do with these?
The pale version of the "vine" applique got stitched and cut. I finished that part at least! I like this little cloth the most. But since I'm still asking myself "but what it is?", I feel disinclined to move forward with it in it's present incarnation. Maybe it belongs to some other cloth?... One that hasn't occurred to me yet. And, ultimately, maybe all of these will end up in pieces and as part of something else.
On a good day, that thought feels full of a sense of freedom, that one can just go on expanding on something, revising, changing, starting over. A Life cloth! But on a bad day, (and right now they seem to be the most dominant kind) that same idea has me throwing the cloth into a corner and asking "what's the bloody point!"
I know that all comes from being too mentally stressed, and too physically tired, (I came down with flu right before Christmas and it seems impossible to shrug off).
I know too that that's when I probably most need to make cloth (right?...) But pushing through that ridiculous barrier, of needing things to be simple and straight-forward and have a clearly defined purpose (a case of my professional work load colliding with my creative dreamtime) seems like the hardest thing to do right now.
I was excited when I last managed to get home to the farm (2 weeks ago) to discover in a corner of the garden behind a bunch of plants, 3 forgotten jars from last years solar dying experiments. It was hard to open them as the metal lids had oxidized, and when I finally managed to get them off, it was all pretty stinky. But after several washes and rinses, I ended up with some palely pleasing little cloths. One that had been wrapped around an avocado pit (top of image below). Ones that had been folded and placed in steaming water, with chile pepper and rosemary leaves,(pale and narrow panel left, and also pale cloth bottom) and some others, no longer possible to decipher what I had put in the jar originally.
Obviously, there are times when forgetting is the key!
I'm still strangely attached to circles (and still going 'round in them I feel). I want to make something of that.