28 May 2012

"May It Be A light Unto You..."

Over at Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesdays the theme this week was 'Light". This image is one of my personal favorites and I remember how I felt when I saw this on the way to work. The pixels are lacking but I am SO glad that I took the time to stop and snap the photo. Can there really be any question about the divine hand of nature?!

22 May 2012

"Thought Sketches" For An Art Quilt

What have I been doing since that amazing natural dyeing class? Playing of course! It's been difficult to top the joy that Michelle Wipplinger and the class brought my way but the days keep spinning onward at an utterly unreasonably fast pace! I have a large set of ATC's due in a week or so and some class notes to get ready for our next local ATC  gathering/class. The work of these incredibly talented members of our little local ATC group will be highlighted in a post soon. I'm finding 'teaching' (this group seems to teach itself though!) is so much fun! Discovering how naturally gifted these new ATC devotees are is a gift!

So - what I've been up to is planning an art quilt in honor of one of my favorite early women's rights advocates and the first acknowledged French female, Court blessed, writer,  Christine dePizan (1363 – c. 1430). I've found that trying out some of my ideas on paper helps me to decide if an idea has potential or not. This is one of my early 'thought sketches'. All of the techniques that I have used here will work on cloth.... the concept is decent but I'll be using some additional, or possibly different, imagery. The border on the face is too wide & is a bit overpowering I think, although I like the light use of gold leaf. I'll see where it goes and am having a lot of fun making a series of these preliminary 'sketches'.!

I'm sure there will be more 'sketched thoughts' to share before long. I hope that you're all enjoying the pleasures and blessings of this early summer season! In my neck of the world we went from a very warm, dry, summer like, streak of weather back to cool rainy days. I even brought out a bulky sweater to wear to work today! The hummingbirds are so hungry that the 5 quart sized feeders now have to be refilled twice a day. I have a feeling that even if we had ten quart feeders out they would find a way to drain them all in a few hours! Yes, that's been where some of my time has gone to!

15 May 2012

"Dyeing As If The Earth Mattered" with Michele Wipplinger Part 2

Tending to our drying skeins of wool. silk & cotton. Each skein had to be labeled wit the formula that was used. This was time consuming but very necessary.
Lush rusts, reds, deep purples & browns
One of my favorites that I will making a batch of soon - weld with a bit of Osage orange to mellow the vibrant weld yellow
Writing and checking the labels
Yes! We were a group of very happy dyers!
Gently separating the silks skeins from the wool and cotton.
I love this blue grey seen with a deep rust color of Quebachero Red and my favorite weld/osage
The deep, mysterious, bubbly depths of the indigo vat
Red wools (front) and cotton (rear)
Carol Strum created a knock-out scarf. Her first time to try some shibori techniques using some small rocks she found. Yum!


The weather was utter perfection during the entire workshop. Screaming blue skies and lilic bushes in full, fragrant bloom.

The "bunk-house" that we stayed in, courtesy of a very generous friend, Lola Deane, afforded us this view as we sat about chatting in the evening.  Thank you Lola! These are the ferries that we use to get around. This image was taken at dusk.
For me, one of the highlights of this weekend was being able to see the Benedictine sanctuary that has been on Shaw Island for many years. It's not a place that you can just walk into - we went hoping that we might get lucky and have permission granted to sit for a quiet spell. Our wish was granted and oh! how lovely this spot is. The chapel is made from many native North West woods and the air was redolent with the warm wood smells!

This is a beautiful stained glass window that graces the chapel on one wall.
The simple but elegant chapel itself. Silent personal retreats are allowed and I might just have to try that experience some day!
This was a very special workshop for me on many levels and it has left me with so much to absorb and review. It was darn near perfection in every way possible !

13 May 2012

The Agony and The Ecstasy : "Dyeing As If The Earth Mattered" with Michelle Wipplinger of Earth Hues

Right: Mary Lynn (ML) Whitley, our very patient, very organized & very wonderful class facilitator and Left :  Michele Wipplinger, owner of Earthues,  our instructor)
I've just returned from the the most magical three day workshop with Michele Wipplinger of EarthHues (NOT to be confused with a company that has a somewhat similar name, 'botanical colors').  Fifteen of us began this glorious color journey last Thursday. This workshop taught me SO much in these few days! The occasional agony of having 15 people make decisions and then the ecstasy, joy, and amazement when we saw the utterly amazing array of colors that resulted from our collective labors. We dyed an assortment of wool, cotton and silk yarns. They arrived pre-mordanted (which was a really good thing) and ready to dye. The room was set up with a myriad of large, stainless steel dye kettles, propane burners (what a marvelous invention!), plastic covered work areas and tables and a mind boggling array of dye colors ready to to be 'brewed up'.

There was so much eye candy that I'll  have to break this post up into two parts which will provide you with an idea of what we enjoyed learning. I highly recommend Michele as an instructor. If you ever have a chance to take a class with Michele- jump on it! I'm really hoping that I will somehow be able to study with her some more. She's an amazing woman. Her mission, I believe, is to not only spread the word about dyes and sustainability but also to be a good citizen of planet earth. She's generous with her wealth of knowledge, patient, precise and fascinating. She's been through an experience which would, for many people, make them very dis-trustful, but Michele still seems to trust and enjoy getting to know the students that come to her to learn.
Our class room at Shaw Island Community Center - a wonderful place to be! We're all very grateful that they let use use their Center for our classes.
Michele Wipplinger's company, Earthues, sells a wide variety of dyes, extracts, raw materials, mordants and beautifully presented kits for both Indigo and plant based dyeing.
Dye kettle ready to roll - note the compact butane burners that use a simple butane canister. Amazing!

Michele displaying the beautiful Japanese cotton skeins that she brought for us to dye. The rings that we used to submerge the skeins into the dye are made from copper tubing covered with plastic tubing  - flexible and perfect. I have to get some materials to make a few of these.
Amazing cotton yarn from Japan.

Mixing some dye - Wow!

A myriad of color and texture to feast our eyes on - scarves, beautiful scarves. Michele told us that she would soon have some utterly beautiful scarf blanks for sale. I can't wait until I can order!

These super great, long sleeved, gloves were available for purchase and were the perfect tool for dyeing. They have an interesting past - originally used as arm protection for pruning roses in England, Michele realized their usefulness around the dye pot and now makes them available for purchase. You can contact her for information - they're only 19.95! Class member and class comedian, Ana Petrova, is modeling these gloves for us here. Ana is an amazing knitter and designer. She's on Ravelry with her designs as Banana Knits

This is a unique example of a several hundred year old tapestry. The image on the left shows the the original color - lichen dyed. The image on the right shows how the lichen dyes have faded to white over the years. I am working with some lichen dyes now and this image was an excellent, cautionary, note about the use.

Not that this isn't a color I would favor or anything is it! Weld, Osage orange and Logwood on that wonderful Japanese cotton yarn.
The dye for these wonderful colors looked like crushed raspberries. Cochineal and Logwood.
                 Early results delighted all of us !                                                                                            LEFT: Weld with Osage orange.   RIGHT: Weld, Osage orange and Logwood

LEFT: Quebracho Red with Cochineal and Logwood    MIDDLE: Quebracho Red  on wool    RIGHT: Cochineal and Logwood

Weld and Osage Orange on cotton an wool.

My dear friend Janet, fellow color and life explorer, motivator and organizer. Where would be without our close friends?

Fellow photographer and memory keeper, Pat Diviney taking in the sights.

04 May 2012

A Lightness of Being - April's Photo Heart Connection from Kat Sloma

I really anticipate Kat Sloma's monthly Photo-Heart Connection themes. Her choice of themes for April is "lighten up". A good reminder for us all ! I think I chose to use the theme more literally this year. When I saw how the lightness of the stone contrasted with the lush, deep, color of the flowers I knew that this would be the image I would use. Welcome Spring - indeed !