Sunday, February 3, 2008

To dye for ... a workshop with India Flint

Okay. So I thought I had this photo thing a bit more organised. I had planned it so that all the photos would appear in order however between downloading, trying to avoid double-ups and only being able to download five photos at a time, I still ended up with my photos all over the place. Anyway, here they are random and all.

These are Deb's pieces. Deb spent a lot of her time organising the workshops but managed to pop into class, wrap a bundle or two, and her results were fantastic. Look at the colour she achieved on this piece. Remember, these are all natural results, not toxic chemicals, no special equipment, just a pot and some botanical matter (leaves). Deb is my textiles tutor during the year but she is so much more. She extends herself for us, her students, is passionate about textiles and works hard to create opportunities for us to learn. And she cares! That makes a difference in an academic setting for me, slow poke that I am. Actually that pink sample is another lovely lady's called Lyn and the flowers used to achieve this great colour were bougainvillea flowers according to India. Sorry Lyn - It's just that it read Deb's silk but I guess this was a piece of Deb's silk used by yourself to dye. I am such a muddlebrain. Forgive me. Thanks India, I stand corrected. Nothing worse than not crediting folk for their work.

Some samples of the other ladies hanging on the line to dry.

India demonstrates how to pound flowers and make prints on silk. Pansies look esp nice. India rolls a bundle with some secret ingredients inside, ties it up and pops it into a pot.
Here is the finished piece just freshly unwrapped with some of those secret ingredients. Check out the prints that are left on upper part of the fabric. The leaves are still attached at the bottom cause this has just come out fo the pot.
Dear Cleo. She is a prolific artist. Lucky she is so nice or I would feel awfully insecure around her. She just motors along and manages to achieve so much. We share everything, coffee, materials, ideas, enthusiasm, passion for handmade stuff, our lunch (yum, thanks C), ice creams, blue cheese, silk, felt, whatever. She's my buddy and I just feel so darn blessed to travel on my art journey with her. Did I also mention she is a mother of three small children and a busy supportive husband?

This is backwards and higgledy but this is a metal roasting tray with fabric soaked in salt water, a few of those rusty bolts my son and I found wandering along the railway tracks last year in Paekakariki; and some plant matter. Left to do its own thing for a few days, kept damp and voila...
A sample of my work. A bit muddy but definitely a two print of an old metal grill thingy. Also the faint markings of a red onion slice to the far left. I love these metal marks and am already working on this to develop it more. It just grabbed me, making marks this way and using old pieces of metal. Hello Trash Palace, here I come.
A sample of mine. Nuno felted merino wool and silk tissue, dyed in onion skins. Simple but I was pleased with this result.
Hiding behind my sample is Trish who is tutoring this year at TLC in Wellington doing textiles. (I would love to play more with some of these new friends. No wonder woman create art groups. She was wonderful, helpful, encouraging and highly organised. All her samples were displayed with lovely little tags containing her notes on a big display board. She sat carefully stitching and piecing her work together and was such a delight. No frenzy for her. I'm looking forward to coffee soon and taking her on a personalised tour of P-Town and all it's delights (Trash Palace included). I wish I had photos of her work, it really was something.
A close up of my felt piece.

Giant heart stones at the Waikanae River.
Seriously these were big heartstones. I never saw them until I visited Nina Bagleys blog, and now I see them everywhere. My boys sometimes collect them for me and I made a body of work with some in them last year.
This weird looking bird was so big and arresting. It looked like a vulture from afar. The picture doesn't do it justice but I just had to pull over and take it's photo. I'm guessing it's a shag of some kind. If you know, let me in on it will you. It was on the streetlight just outside the Kapiti campus.
Ok, so India introduced us to the idea of documenting our daily walks with botanic collections of windfalls. These could be collected randomly or with some pattern as one walked along. Here are some of my finds from the Nikau Palm Reserve bush walk located on the other side of the motorway from the campus. I found bark, moss, a fern frond, a something-phyte (a plant that grows on another plant, sorry Deb, can't remember what you called it) - an epiphyte says India, twigs, leaves and an old beer can I dug out of the ground. Nicely rusted up. Bundle it up, boil it, leave it, unwrap it. I don't think this particular bundle worked to well (too impatient, unwrapped everything on the first day, learned though that things are better left to do their magic over time) but I did love the idea of recording journeys this way. Will be working on this concept and developing it a bit more. Just thought it important to also inject here that we were well informed about collecting protocols, protecting native species and so forth. I loved the beer can.

One of my bundles. Look how the wool and string just soak up the colour.

Here we are. Sorry India, she was reluctant to have her picture taken but I wanted a record of my time with her so Cleo and I cajoled her to stand still and wallah! She is tall, quietly spoken, has a cheeky gleam in her eyes, and I felt honoured to spend time with her. Not easy in a room with other folk who also feel this way. I appreciated the moments we shared. She returns to Australia to a fully booked year. I hope she returns next year. I would love to take a felt workshop with her. All her clothes have her special treatment, she is visually unique being statuesque and dressed in eco-printed silk clothing. So earthy. The Maori word for guardians of the land is Kaitiaki. Having come to know India and her thoughtful and intelligent use of the lands resources, I think she is kaitiaki. Nau mai haere mai India of the West Island. You are always welcome here in this other land of yours. I love that she gets a wee tattoo every visit to Aotearoa too. And today I found out she plays the sax. Mmmm, so bohemian. My new favourite word and concept, BOHEMIAN.
Ok, I was nervous about taking her photo on the first day so sorry it aint great India but here she is in all her finery introducing us to her work samples.
Some more of India Flints samples. How privileged it was to touch her work, spend a week with her and come to understand the spirit that creates these pieces.
Here is Cleo on a botanical collection wander. She tucked up her skirt, kicked off her shoes and waded across the river to collect old red bricks that were hiding in the stream. This is what makes her lovable. Earthy.
We had to wear closed shoes for safety purposes. These are not my most comfortable walking shoes so I didn't stumble along the river bank for long but it was long enough to stumble across the most amazing amount of heart stones. I mean truly look at the size and perfect shape of this heart stone. I see these shapes everywhere now. I do love my burgundy shoes with the little strap though. $6 from the family store and they were brand new. So................. there they are, as promised, some of my pics from the week long workshop at Whitireia Summer School, Kapiti Campus with India Flint, Australian artist. India was generous and patient as twelve-fifteen women crowded around hungry to learn about dyeing with plants and esp her prized ecoprint technique for SEVEN days (Glory, did we get our moneys worth). India is not just an artist, she accurately describes herself as an alchemist. We were taught the various properties of plants, the chemistry involved using natural ingredients as mordants (salt water, vinegar, and old metal bolts to name a couple), ... (oh, mordants are what make the dye stay in the fabric so it doesn't wash out later); shibori techniques and a cool way to twine our own string using natural fabric bits and pieces. Some parts of the workshop were difficult because I am a slow learner. I need to observe, get the information then have space to absorb and experiment. I found that if I maintained a slow pace and concentrated on learning a few techniques well, then I would get through the week and feel satisfied with my own gleanings. And I did. I used to be so eager (desparate?) to learn that I would get ahead of myself but these days I work when I want, break when I want and take in what I can. I tell you, I enjoy myself a heck of a lot more too. It was a hot week, at times too hot to be standing over a pots but still the anticipation of opening all these bundles of silk, cotton and linen was like Xmas morning. I kid you not. Sighs and 'ooohs' were to be heard as ladies crowded around to see the results as the dye bundles were unravelled. I loved it. I learned that a lot of colour can come from onion skins. Wrap up an old iron bolt found when meandering along the train tracks, tuck a few bits of onion skin inside, bundle it up in a piece of silk, cotton or whatever, tie tightly with string, drop into a pot with more onion skins, boil for an hour, turn off and leave in the pot for at least a day, and wallah! Beautiful green/yellow/black one-of-a-kind fabric. Of course, I was chucking in silk thread for my sewing box, wool for knitting and anything else white I could find. Blueberries give an amazing amount of colour turning whatever purple/mauve, and raspberries go a beautiful cerise pink which just glows on silk. Since coming home, I have had a pot of onion skins on my stove constantly. It doesn't smell. Just rinse after dyeing and dry in the sunshine and no smell. Other highlights of the week included Kapiti ice cream (flavours: pavlova, lemon meringue pie, fig and date, and a berry one) plus their amazing blue cheese (mmmm, love blue cheese); skiving away one morning to hit the local op shops and finding a vintage little purse with bakelite handles and a few sewing implements tucked inside; lunch with India and Cleo under the shade of a tree on a wee hill with rockmelon, blue cheese and organic yummy brown bread (India says this particular bread can go bad and make you literally lose your mind, we ate it anyway) ... says India " about the bread.If rye grains go mouldy they generate a psychotropic chemical which can make you hallucinate and send you nuts. Only natural antidote is dairy product, which, I guess, is why Latvian cooking (loaded with rye) is also loaded with generous amounts of milk, butter and cream"; travelling with my dear art friend Cleo every morning and evening for our 40 minute drive to and from Kapiti; seeing the South Island and Kapiti Island enroute to class; the bush walk through the Nikau forest; a toast to dear Sir Ed Hilary (RIP) and my first taste of strawberry champagne (nice but I don't think I'm a champers girl esp at ten in the morning with no breakfast); and a wander along the Otaki River where I found an old piece of steel and giant heart rocks. I so wanted to bring them home but really, they were too big. So I photographed them instead. Anyway, have a lovely week ahead. I aim too keep working on sifting and sorting my art materials (honestly not fun but looking forward to the results). Ok, apopo ra. Until tomorrow ...I've noticed these postings are becoming novels but I am enjoying spilling some of the cool things that are happening in my life onto these cyberpages. I hope you enjoy reading them. Let me know by leaving a comment below (click on 'comments' just below here next to the time posted). It's nice to know who's perusing these pages and what your thoughts are.


Helen said...

Hi Thank you for your wonderful enthusiastic report of your workshop with india Flint. It sounds wonderful and your samples are very interesting. Helen

india flint said...

Wow, speccy pix. you go, girl! Actually that pink sample is Lyn’s (bougainvillea flowers, as I recall)
And the word for the plant is ‘epiphyte’, not really its name, more a descriptor for what it does (live on other hosts but without killing them, unlike a parasite).
Mostly we collected windfalls (only way to collect something not fully identified), heaps of identified weeds, and eucalypts (introduced plant)
.and about the bread.
If rye grains go mouldy they generate a psychotropic chemical which can make you hallucinate and send you nuts. Only natural antidote is dairy product, which, I guess, is why Latvian cooking (loaded with rye) is also loaded with generous amounts of milk, butter and cream

india flint said...

me again...the reason the sample said "deb's silk" is because there is a history...Debbie Leung (who was in the Aotearoa Feltmasters class of 2007) kindly sent her fellow students (and, I might add, the tutor) some delightful buttery silk, after she had gone back home...Lyn had labelled the sample accordingly. it really is delicious stuff and as you can see dyes beautifully.

keep up the blogging me's giving me great pleasure!

Anonymous said...

I'm thoroughly enjoying the "novel" like posts. I havn't gone into fabric staining but I like to make natural marks on the wood that I carve using rust, plant, clay and tea stains. Its something that just came to me. I'm not sure if anyone else does this sort of thing. I just wanted the wood to look as if it had been lying buried beneath earth or decaying vegetation. I love that unearthed look.