Buckeye and Hickory

25 Apr

It’s cold here.  Cold.  Gray.  Rainy.  But suddenly—turning GREEN.  Not the dark homogenous green of summer.  Spring green.  Hundreds of shades of green.  I remember reading that Eskimos have over a hundred words for different types of snow.  The greens of spring could do with more descriptors.

Peony is ready for printing as are Bradford Pear and a few others…but I’m cleaning house and trying to use the last of my foraged and dried leaves gathered over the last two years.

These hickory leaves were huge.  Over 12”.  And papery thin.  I doubted they had much tannin but they did…at least enough to leave a light ephemeral image.

The dried buckeye—sometimes called “horse chestnut”—after rehydrated, had so much tannin the intense color exploded onto the silk.

 

greenin’ up

23 Apr

It doesn’t take long to remember why it is that I blog along for a bit and then vanish in space.   It takes me way too much time…an inordinate amount of time…to post the simplest message.  This morning I was called to photograph my surrounds.  Beautiful light.  Cool damp morning.  Rain.  And the woods were exploding.

So I took pics with my iphone and a while later opened google photos and they weren’t there.  Opened icloud which makes me crazy but there they were.  Tried to download from the cloud to just about everywhere but kept getting a “failed–network error” message.  Returned to google photos on my desktop and this one image was there.  The others–who knows?

The rub is this…I express myself visually.  Words exasperate me.   They’re too vague.  Inexact.  Visuals put a fine point on ideas…convey ever so much more information.  I would like to think that this time around the process of posting to this blog will flow more gently…and if it does, then yes, I can manage this.   We shall see.

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And before I forget, I can’t for the life of me remember how to enable photos to enlarge when they’re clicked.  Suggestions?  Oh, and one more thing…I know the string surrounding my dye garden won’t really keep out deer…but for now it does.

Seasons

22 Apr
I grew up in a football/baseball kind of family and when I was a really small child, I pieced together that football season meant autumn—fall. Huge colorful mums.  Brisk nights.  Loud, overwhelming crowds in bleachers full of crazy fans.
Baseball season meant the advent of summer.  And summer vacation meant, more than anything, a return to the woods.  Looking back on this the education I value the most came during the summers, during my forays into “the woods”, for the the woods shared secrets, shaped my world view, my understanding of time and space, my awareness of “self” in the big picture.  My understanding of “seasons.”
Now, surely, I’m in the mellowed, fine-wine season of my own life.  My life-in-autumn phase, a vital time,  replete with the bounty of nature,  a return to the woods and to the joys of eco printing.
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Perseverance

14 Jun

This morning, in the early hours, I walked around and through the flowers–again overwhelmed by  volunteers–the plants that keep giving and giving.  Reappearing each year through no effort of my own.  From perennials to the self-seeding annuals– zinnias, marigolds, purple basil, cleome and others.

I was thinking “you know, they don’t have to do this,” this constant yearly rebirthing of beauty.  They don’t have to keep giving–making the world a more welcoming place.  But they do.  And their will to just stand, to keep on keeping on humbles me.  The cleome seed, small as a drop of pepper, that landed in a crack on the pavement?–what were the odds that it could germinate and push through the hard non-yielding environment that surrounded it?IMG_3753

But it did and I, who am often prone to silently mourning the condition of the world, sensed a small glimmer of hope witnessing this true grit.  Truly humbled by this manifestation of perserverance.

As this hickory, unconcerned that its back is up against a wall stands steadfast in its will to “be.” To prevail. Manifesting a life force that cannot be denied.

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I must hold on to this truism–this  sense of both hope and perseverance. Must wrap my arms around its trunk and daily reaffirm that the morass of our culture–of the world’s culture–is not permanent. Will fall by the wayside long before nature’s steadfastness diminishes.

For me, eco printing honors this spirit.

 

 

 

 

“We Were Made For These Times”

10 Jun

As happens so often, the universe provides exactly what is needed at the exact moment of utmost need–and this is from a post in another forum by Katherine Benner, a wonderful fiber artist!

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

WE WERE MADE FOR THESE TIMES

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

By Clarissa Pinkola Estes
American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

The Spaces In-Between

9 Jun

Many years ago I bought a ceramic plaque for my sister.  It was whimsical–had a figure dancing on a mountainside and the inscription read something like “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.”  This thought was with me when I awoke this a.m.  But not quite this thought–more like “the magic happens in the in- between.”  In that place some have called “the gap.”  As in the moment between inhale and exhale.  That place where thoughts vanish.  Where all is well.  Where time doesn’t exist–is not measured by seconds–but is measured by some mysterious sense of empty space.

As I was washing out scarves from yesterday’s printing, this was on my mind.  This idea of the space in-between–and in this washing out process, the drying, the ironing, my vision shifted.  Usually I’m studying the impression of leaves–did they print?  how well? outstanding characteristics?  If you are a recorder of leaves, you know the drill, right?

But this morning my focus had shifted.  I was not so interested in the leaf shapes as in the spaces in-between the leaves.  The unplanned places.  The myriad areas that evolved on their own.  I guess some refer to this as “negative space?”  I’m not sure.But for me these spaces in-between are like portals into another realm.  They are not literal the way leaf prints can be.  Their form is unexpected, unstructured, amorphous.  And yet full of such richness and magic.

I was still contemplating this as I gazed out the kitchen windows at the woods across the road.  Without my glasses and by softly altering my gaze, the same thing happened.  The tree leaves formed delineated areas of green, but for me the mystery was in the shadows.IMG_3701  Studying eco prints, I see the same pattern–and find I’m actually having to make an effort to see the leaf prints rather than the space in between.

 

 

Walking through the house, my eye focuses on the floor rug.  Not at the dominant pattern but at the spaces in-between.  In a bit I have to get in my car.  Drive in traffic.  Unless this visual filter falls by the wayside, it should be an interesting ride.

 

 

 

A Tannin Source in the Dye Garden

7 Jun

When we moved to our current location, we faced a hard decision–whether or not to remove a Bradford Pear tree growing very close to the house.  There was some roof damage already because part of it had broken during a wind frenzy and had fallen on the house.  I knew nothing about the history of this tree (it’s a non-native invasive, cross-pollinating bugger) but hated the idea of cutting it down.  Nevertheless we did. And once it was gone, the space around it seemed to be a good place for my dye garden.

But I didn’t think about the tree roots–which of course are everywhere.  Nor did I factor in the life force of these roots and their will to live.  In the past I’ve just plucked off the new shoots and thrown them into the compost pile.  But a few days ago I thought I’d experiment with them.  Boiled up a batch in an aluminum pot, soaked a piece of silk in the bath overnight and was happy to see a salmon/peachy color the next day.  I took this one step further and dipped the piece in iron water and within a matter of minutes the silk was dark gray.  (Had only wanted to test half of the sample but the iron water migrated almost to the very end.)

The brew, the color sample dipped in iron water and now a brownish grew, and a scarf dyed with the brew but without an iron dip.  Happy to find a purpose for this tree that wants to keep giving!

 

And the dye garden where the tree still wants to be?  Now some pretty weld–
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And the woad gone to seed.  (Didn’t realize the image was so blurry.)

 

And here, if you look closely, you’ll see wanna-be Bradford Pear sprouting up in the coreopsis patch.

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An Evolving Journey….

5 Jun

Just pictures today of an evolving journey into the mysteries and wonder of facilitating the process of leaves conversing with cloth.  This one, geraniums and sappanwood.

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And this–a wild violet bursting with earth energy.

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Mark-Making

2 Jun

We’ve been doing it forever.  “It” being the compulsion to record life and events in one way or another.  From cave drawings to tattoos, from petroglyphs to virtual signage, mark-making has reflected both the presence as well as the exploits of humans.

It has occurred to me that eco printing is another form of mark making.  On the surface, printing with leaves may appear to only reflect variety of species.  Or a season in the cycle of nature.  Eco printing may appear to only record minutiae as unimportant–perhaps– as the position of a particular leaf on a particular tree.   Or  more important details such as drought.  Flooding.  Quality of soil.  Weather patterns.  But in fact, prints embody these things and much more.

Below are details of prints completed yesterday.  They hold within their beauty a profound and bitter-sweet sadness.  They mark the day Trump decided it was better to get a good “deal” than to defend the environment.  And not only did he withdraw from the Paris (not Pittsburgh) Accords, but he did so on the back of many flagrant and bold-faced lies spun to defend his decision.

So yes, I will remember yesterday–I’ll remember what happened the day these marks were made.  But most importantly I’ll remember the “old saw”–that some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little This a Little That….

31 May

I love soup.  In fact, my favorite is Thursday night soup–soup made from leftovers of the week, all thrown together into a pot and seasoned accordingly–maybe with cumin, but always garlic and onion.  Usually it turns out pretty good.  Sometimes it’s horrible.

Eco printing, for me, is kinda like that soup.  A little this, a little that, and sometimes the combination is divine.  Of course, sometimes it’s not…absolutely not…unsalvage-ably bad.  Those duds aren’t happening with quite the regularity they once did.  For one thing I’ve finally started making notes of a sort.  And I’ve finally begun sampling as well.  These two practices have helped me avoid a lot of pitfalls, but the duds still happen, just less frequently.

There’s something else I’ve noticed about my eco prints.  Sometimes I really want order.  Geometric repetition.  Sometimes I want chaos.  Often I go for monochromatic results but more often than not I’m craving color.  Today’s scarves fall into this latter category–controlled chaos and a lot of color.  Wednesday soup de jour.

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One Person’s Trash….etc.

29 May

I’m drawn to discarded stuff. Not garbage exactly–but things that can maybe be reused or have some sort of intrinsic value–to me at least. This holds true for most areas of my life. For example, I don’t buy new clothes but I do upcycle/recycle old one–the discards of other’s–or I rework my own.

And this brings me to the subject of this post, which on the surface appears to be a logwood scarf printed with buckeye leaves.IMG_3524

But actually, I’m just as interested in the location of the buckeye tree itself as it sits on one of my favorite foraging lots–an urban “pit of despair”–littered with broken  bottles, an old orange sofa, poison ivy and the detritus of years of haphazard littering.  But looking a bit closer, it’s also a rich and varied ecosystem.  Tons of dock, bitter lettuce, sumac, black walnut, tree of heaven and other plants I’m beginning to identify.  In fact, yesterday when I arrived I found three bright orange California poppies begging for acknowledgment.  And though I’m loathe to pick something still attached to the earth, I did pick these three. Mainly because they were leaning so precariously into the traffic of a very busy urban thoroughfare that it’s a wonder I didn’t loose my butt bending over to pick them.

The Value of Light

28 May

I don’t have a title for this post.  Maybe it will come as I write.  Today is Sunday and I took the day off.  Not because it’s Sunday but because I was tired and decided to listen to my body.  So instead of working, I rigged up lights for an upcoming art show at the Ramsey Center, Western Carolina University–Cullowhee–in a few weeks.  Indoor shows are challenging because eco printed scarves look dull and dingy under most arena-type lighting.

Most of my shows to date have been outside.  That’s tricky sometimes, in terms of weather, but I’m under a tent and even if it rains, we’re o.k.  And always the light and wind benefit the eco printed scarves–highlights their natural beauty–a beauty I’m quick to add that I am not responsible for.  I facilitate their ability to appear on cloth.  That’s all.  A good mechanic.

But back to the indoor shows: the only show I did last year that fell below my arbitrarily established “sales goal” was indoors and dreadful.  The inside lighting was miles away from ground level.  And it was a muddy green color.  Everyone and everything looked kinda seasick.  So this show in June–a two-day event–will also be indoors–which leads me to the purpose of this blog–a solution for lighting.

Sometimes I have help setting up my booth–sometimes I don’t–but my intention is always to have a compact, easy-to-set up exhibit.  Lightweight as well.  At first I thought track lights and priced them out.  Nope.  Quite heavy and rather pricey. I asked the Lowe’s clerk if I could rig a regular fixture up and wire it to an extension cord. She said yes. I asked her if she could explain it to me. She said “no” but listened to me thinking out loud and seemed to agree with how I thought to proceed.  Buy four ceiling fixtures–bulbs included–buy four extension cords and a roll of electric tape.  Snip off the receptacle end of the cord, strip it a bit and then wire to the existing light.  There you have it.  I have four fixtures now ready to go and they put off good light. So if the scarves don’t do well, at least I’ll know lighting wasn’t the problemIMG_3519

This is a busy year for me for shows. Last count I have 11 before end of year. Last Saturday was a good event: Montford Music and Arts Festival here in Asheville. Good weather, good people, great music and very good sales. IMG_4805.JPG

Posting new scarf images at http://www.thelanguageofleaves.com but can’t do it from this iPad. Will also be listing my schedule of shows any day now.

Authenticity and Intention

21 Mar

A weeks ago I challenged myself to create a piece of slow cloth quickly.  Do you see the obvious problem with that?  Quick slow cloth is like army intelligence–oxymoronic.  And so it sat and sat and finally, gradually the pieces auditioning for inclusion were removed.  Stripped down to the bare essential underlying matrix.  This is where it was going but everything felt forced and contrived.  Looking at it now with the advantage of several weeks distancing, I see a bit where it was going.  Could have gone.

But it didn’t happen.  Because the part of my self that pays attention to intention was flashing red warning signs.  There is no picture of the stripped down cloth.  The little “cuties” are in the bucket of scrap cloth.  Why then, this morning, was I called to just revisit the scene?  I don’t know, really, but what happened was not planned and emerged effortlessly, spontaneously and almost in a “meant to be” progression.  This is the beginning.  This might also be where it stops.  But as I was contemplating the pieces I was struck by how this process parallels life.  All the pieces we accumulate.  Hopefully discarding what doesn’t work.  Then regrouping and reassembling.  Paying attention to commonalities.  The intersection of lines.  Lines representing lives.  Events.  One leading into another.  Moving between each element.  Joining paper and cloth.  Both so ephemeral.  So transient.  So destined to only last so long.  But the length of time doesn’t matter, does it?  It is only the authenticity behind intention that prevails.  The doing what feels true.  The listening to that voice which may become faint at times–but will not be silenced.

Why am I doing this?…

21 Feb

…and I’ve thought that enough to last a lifetime.  Still, lots to learn from  each one.  Fizzled out this morning after spending more than an hour arranging/rearranging.  When I finally noticed the track running through my head–“why in the world are you doing this NOW?”  and stepped away.  Now looking after many hours, my conclusion–the mind-tape had a point and I’m left with two characters from different planets.  Incongruent.  I’d add the day one and day two for comparison but can’t seem to insert anything at this point else.  Besides…..

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In the beginning… or rather… was there a beginning?

20 Feb

I see-saw between the forest and  the trees. The former is more comfortable.  I’m a big picture wanna be. Yet I’m haunted by details.  I believe what we have here is something quite pre-historic.  A velociraptor perhaps.  And something else, directly below, emerging from the void.  Part fish, part mammal?  There’s a sense of fertile potentiality, as though anything could happen.  Tomorrow I will learn more.

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Picking Up the Pieces.

19 Feb

I’m loving this time in the cycle of seasons.  Only a few plants outside are showing signs of greening up.  Leaves are nowhere to be found.  And although it’s unseasonably warm, I think we still have a month or so before the lure of new growth begs commemoration.  It’s also a slow time in terms of art & craft shows–a venue I’ve become dependent upon.

But right now I’m not thinking much about craft shows.  Instead, I’m looking at all the cloth I’ve generated from eco printing

and anticipating the process of melding together disparate pieces into whole cloth.

Marveling at the little marks left behind–
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birdbeaksHappy Birds?butterflyButterflies.butterfly2

I play the “cloud game” and imagine all sorts of things–like this hummingbird in search of nectar…hummingbird

Or this–how negative/positive space can hold both leaf tips and faces.sadcat

I love these little etchings on cloth–the last hurrah of the heroic effort on the part of a tree, shrub or flower.  A mark that will last linger long past this growing season.  Sometimes these marks commemorate an event–an occasion–a time spent in solitude in nature, or a social event with family and friends.  Times or joy.  Moments of sorrow.  Sometimes these marks recall weather patterns.  Times of drought.  Times of unseasonable rain.  And although these little imprints on cloth may look like absolutely nothing at first glance, for me they are intriguing.  Mysterious.  Beautiful.  Parts and pieces that, when combined, tell another story.

I’m going to document the birth of this next cloth–a cloth that right now comprises 8 separate scraps of botanical imprints–finding the places where lines and shapes connect–where the whole emerges from the sum of its parts–where it makes sense to me.  Where on some level I’m able to understand how the puzzle pieces can fit together –forming the big picture.

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And thank you Jude Hill.   Slow stitch and slow cloth.

the comfort of kantha

9 Feb

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Again, lulled back into the comforting rhythm of kantha. Into the near hypnotic motion of running stitch.   Waves across the surface of cloth.

Much is held here in this cloth.  Memories. Snippets and scraps.  Like the oddly arranged, seemingly incongruent events of my life– held to the light.  To be examined.  Revered.  Treasured.

Memory–like kantha– weaving the ground, holding the story, supporting the whole.

Coming Full Circle: prayer flag #12

5 Feb

wallHonoring Diversity.

A dozen prayer flags in as many days.  (The 12th follows) So beginning left to right,  Freedom of Speech, The Sacred Hoop, Encouragement, Transformation, Freedom from Persecution, Metta, Standing Firm, Honoring Diversity (above), Into the Stillness, Holding Truth and Warrior Women


Today’s releaser-of-prayers marks the end of a series–the end of an effort that has traveled full circle.  There may be more.  Or not.   Their mission has been accomplished and eco printing calls.

Although externally nothing has changed, internally I am more centered.  (I was going to say “on solid ground” but still reaching for that place.)   But I find myself better able now to stand and face the is-ness of #45 without totally losing my center–or my mind.

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Today’s flag Coming Full Circle started as usual with no name and no real plan.  Handling scraps.  I came across the body–a pure white woven rectangle and the process began.   Initially I thought about purity.  Cleansing.  So they are embedded in this irrepressible sprite who refuses to be boxed in–thus the opening in the sky—a passageway–a portal for transcending.  She begged for color and before I knew it, her headdress and heart were  in place.  And a light-hearted cosmic dance was underway.

Hand dyed indigo backing.  full

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey.

Warrior Women: prayer flag #11

4 Feb

This morning I’m thinking about a warrior woman–one woman in particular–a scrappy keeper-of-goats living in the harsh yet beautiful desert of the SW.    Not a place for the weak of body or spirit.  I’m joining her this morning in solidarity, vowing to take back what I’ve been relinquishing–stepping out of this small, spiteful drama and reclaiming, to the degree that I can–a sense of perspective–a sense of how it goes.  Viewing the big screen in high definition.onewomancu

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This warrior woman was part of a weaving exercise using a little box as the loom.  She stands on cloth dyed with black walnuts.  Mounted on fabric mordanted with sumac.  Her head is one half of a sampler I made while practicing slow cloth with Jude Hill.  And yes, Jude Hill is a warrior as well.  As was my mother.   As is my daughter.  My sister, friends cousins and nieces.  This is for you.

Holding Truth: prayer flag #10 as antidote to alternative facts

3 Feb

As far as I know the Bowling Green Massacre theory is an alternative fact.  Not a truth.

This butterfly–slow stiched during a gentler time spent online with Jude Hill–is meant as a reminder of the value and beauty of truth.  It’s a pocket–a safety net–to hold written words or ideas that clarify one’s world view.   And it’s a reminder that butterflies aren’t alone in their struggle to avoid extinction.

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This morning’s prayer flag.  Stitched with cloth pieces from older incomplete projects. Patched together for unity.  A truth holder.

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Into the Stillness: prayer flag #9

2 Feb

img_4189This what-might-look-like-a rag pile is actually my hoard of earthly, material treasures. (No pun intended.)   Things I would grab if leaving home in a hurry.  On that little couch, and the shelves that surround it,  I find remnants of work from the last ten or so years.  Natural dyed fabric experiments, hand-dyed indigo shibori pieces, pieces of slow cloth that I labored over so intensely, eco print fabrics, pieces of silk hand dyed and ecoprinted, needle felted wool, etc.  And this is where I go, these mornings of late, when I begin the prayer flag of the day.

This morning I was contemplating the importance of stepping into stillness.  Especially as a tool to handle the maelstorm of current events.  Contemplating stillness and casually examining pieces of cloth.  What surfaced was a felted wool stork.  Felted wool and pieces of linen indigo dyed shibori.  Surfaced and coalesced with little effort on my part.

Curious abbestreallyout stork’s symbolism in light of the intent of these prayer flags, I googled stork.   My take-away:

If we allow it to it can instill a sense of calm in us…. It reminds us to be careful with our words and attitudes, remaining calm, cool, and collected in the face of adversity. When we do this, we can be at peace.

Instill.  In still.  OK.  Into stillness.

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Honoring Diversity, Cultivating Empathy prayer flag #8

1 Feb

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I’ve named today’s prayer flag Honoring Diversity.  

It’s a cloth made perhaps 7 years ago.  A time when I was experimenting with free motion machine stitching as well as natural dyeing.  The linen background, as I recall, was dyed with golden rod.  The right hand corner isn’t washed out as it seems.  And the oval is a combination of free motion stitching, hand stitching, pastels on cloth and machine work. Four diverse methods for creating a whole cloth.  I pulled it out of my scrap bag this a.m.  Relegated there because at the time, I didn’t know what to do with it.  It’s not beautiful, not really pleasing, not what I expected, but clearly diverse.  Sometimes that’s messy.  And now it’s stitched onto linen and sending out the need for honoring others.

Originally my intention was to honor the four directions and the elements of fire, water, earth and air–elements essential to life as we know it.  Elements to be revered, to be protected–honoring diversity.

The other day, grandson and I were discussing the value of diversity.  The concept of empathy came up and he wanted an explanation.   Wondered if it was the same thing as feeling sorry for someone.  To be honest, I had to dig.  Finally I said I thought that rather than feeling sorry for someone, empathy is more like feeling sorry with someone.  Maybe not the best answer but he seemed to get it.  So…sending this wish out on a wing and a prayer.   May we honor diversity and cultivate empathy.

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Prayer Flag 7: Stand Firm

31 Jan

Sometimes that’s all I can do. Stand firm.  Or at least it’s all I can try to do.

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Metta: prayer flag #6–

30 Jan

Thank you to Delaine Tipper for providing the focus of today’s prayer flag.  Metta.  

I appreciate words being provided…words and mental constructs to focus upon throughout the days.  Words and ideas that bring some sort of solace to help traverse these trying times.  Often as I sit and rip and stitch, usually very early in the a.m., I notice my “monkey mind” swinging through the trees.  Busy, busy, busy.  Today I would have had a hard time distilling the contents of those thoughts into one concise, uplifting concept.  Delaine suggested metta and for that suggestion–and the focus it provides–I am grateful.

Now I’m also grateful to Mo for helping me figure out part of the problem I was having enlarging images on this site.

Looking for tomorrow’s focal thought!

mettacu

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May All Things Rise–Free of Persecution: prayer flag #5

29 Jan

(for Winki Allen)

Sending out this prayer this morning–may all children, women and men be free of persecution–may our country remember its origins–may we not fight fire with fire but with love and hope–and finally because today’s prayer flag also holds seeds and leaves from last year’s dye garden (woad, marigold and eucalyptus)–may the guardians of all-things-that-grow bless this little plot of earth again and may the fruit of the seeds rise high.

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Scraps of eco prints and naturally dyed cloth.  Yellow onion, madder, white oak.

Transformation: Prayer Flag #4

28 Jan
toppocket

Holding

Transformation:  Google definition:  a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance. Synonyms:   change, alteration, mutation, conversion, metamorphosis, transfiguration, transmutation, revolution, overhaul; remodeling, reshaping, redoing, reconstruction, rebuilding, reorganization, rearrangement, reworking, renewal, revamp, remaking, remake;  morphing…

…from the original to what is now.   Everything a manifestation of form, of thought, or the action that preceded it.  Yet everything always in the process of changing–of becoming something else.   Variable.  Never static.   And right now I need to remember that.

My fears for the future are “stories” I create.  Stories based on many things–experience, programming, culture, etc. –but stories nonetheless.  Why not write a different story? Revise the script?  Thoughts matter.  A lot.  Maybe more than anything.  Because they manifest and bear fruit.  Personally I’m tired of many of my thoughts and retiring them to the graveyard of inedible fruit.  At least that’s what I intend to do.

Today’s prayer flag embodies these concepts–the fluidity of transformation.  The on-going reorganization of thought and action that changes one state of being into another.  And in this instance, a rearrangement of scrap cloth–disparate pieces of eco printed and naturally dyed fabric now unite  to form a cohesive entity.  For me this flag illustrates the notion of manifestation.  Intention The idea that thoughts bear fruit.  And especially, thank you Aristotle, the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.  So.  Like this prayer flag, we can come together with every intention of manifesting a different outcome to the trajectory of today’s political arena.

OK.  Here it is:

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Transformation

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Holding

Encouragement prayer flag #3

27 Jan

I don’t know any one person who doesn’t need encouragement right now.  The future looks pretty scary.   Even living in the now can feel scary.   So today’s flag was stitched and ripped with prayers of hope and encouragement for ALL of us.  We tell our children, “Never give up,” but sometimes we forget to apply that to ourselves.  We stand in disbelief that government officials, congressmen and senators seem to be rolling out the king’s welcome mat–with no indication of questioning some of the bizarre insane mandates coming down the pike.  I’m not feeling especially encouraged by that display of lock-step blind allegiance, but I am encouraged by the resistance displayed in some of the federal agencies.  Alt twitter accounts.  And although I find twitter to be an amazing degradation of communication–especially coming from the big boy–alt accounts mean someone isn’t buying into this horror show.  That encourages me.

Let’s collectively take a deep breath, if just for this split second, to breathe in hope and exhale fear.  Take two if you want.  Every drop of water raises the level in the bucket.

 http://www.core77.com/posts/60230/Heres-a-List-of-All-the-US-Govts-Rogue-Twitter-Accounts-Fighting-Trumps-Crackdown-on-Science

Prayer Flag #3:  Encouragement

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The Sacred Hoop: prayer flag #2

26 Jan

I guess I’ll do this until frustration with the mechanics of blog-world once more drives me nuts. In six short months I have forgotten every THING I knew about WordPress. What should have been a quick download of this morning’s eco dyed prayer flag has taken almost an hour. Beginning with i-pad pic, getting it off the i-pad to the desktop, dealing with the google drive, wordpress not recognizing the google drive, downloaded a pic and now cannot insert text above it. Deleted pics, inserted text first then again the pics. Now can’t figure out why photos in preview mode won’t give me that little hand-finger icon so they can be enlarged.

And wondering all the while–“why am I doing this?” and really–I don’t have a good answer. But I will continue making these prayer flags–messages on the wind, sending out concerns, hopes and prayers trusting they’ll be carried where they may help some thing in some way.

Listen Grandfather Where I Stand

Hey-a-a-hay! Lean to hear my feeble voice.

At the center of the sacred hoop,

you have said that I should make the tree to bloom.

With tears running O Great Spirit, my Grandfather,

with running eyes I must say….

The tree has never bloomed.

Here I stand, and the tree is withered.

Again I recall the great vision you gave me.

It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives….

Nourish it then, that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds!

Hear me, that the people may once again go back to the sacred hoop,
find the good road, and the shielding tree.

~Black Elk

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Freedom of Speech?

25 Jan

May 6, 2016.  Last post.  And today I’m starting anew.  From a different place.  Completely different.  When I read back over prior posts, there’s a lot I’m not “hearing.” I’m not hearing the things that I need to say now.  For good reason.  Now looks so different from then.

Yes, I did have a very busy year–from May to December.  I don’t know how many shows I attended as a vendor–one or two a month.  This year I’m more selective perhaps but still anticipate monthly shows, beginning in February.  Surprised myself by finding that although they are hard, I like meeting people.  And truthfully (my truth–not “alternative facts”) the scarves were well received.  So…clearly unable to live on my  meager monthly entitlement, selling at shows will be in the future for as long as it works.

OK.  Enough.  I’m freaking out.  Cannot believe what’s happening in our country.  Cannot believe the casualties already–truth was the first to fall, soon to be followed by the demise of our environment, and perhaps even democracy as we knew it.

I post infrequently on facebook.  Mainly just to an eco print forum but sometimes to my page.  Lately I’m noticing the intensity of the political things I’m “sharing.”  And I’m also noticing that in the past I’ve shared with trepidation–afraid?  Not wanting to alienate anyone?  I’m not sure.  And because facebook on some level turns my stomach, I’m back here.  Back to followingthread.  Here I can say what I need to say from an uncensored place within, and that’s what I aim to do.  Starting with this.  People, freedom-of-speech is on the chopping block.  We Americans can hardly imagine what a world without it would look like.  So let me suggest a vision–a totalitarian state unlike anything we’ve known.

Yesterday the president issued gag orders on many federal agencies.  I know I’m  not the only person freaked by this.  The ability to call and comment on  whitehouse.gov has been removed and now requires internet access to either text  or post on facebook.  15% of the nation have NO internet.

Somehow I’ve got to get on top of this–this feeling/mindset/mood/condition that seems to be taking me away from myself.  Old strategies aren’t working very well.  I meditate.  Try to practice mindfulness.  Breathe.  Pray.  And it all helps for a while, but soon the heaviness returns.

So back to the healing powers of ripping cloth.  This morning, my second prayer flag.  Made from eco dyed and eco printed fabric.  During the time I was doing this, I realized that once again shredding cloth alleviates stress.   I’m imagining many more in the days to come.

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From Primitive Icons to Ecoprinting

10 Apr

 

One night in 1990 I awoke from a deep sleep knowing I needed to set free–release–my primicons.  Primitive icons.  This need to create had a life of its own.   I started with rebar wire and paper mache.  Added wood chips to the mix–and paint.  Later covered the wire with muslin.  Anything that would hold shape.  I worked late into the nights.  My kitchen was no longer a place for meal preparation so much as an abode for these guys.  Years later when my dad gifted me a pile of rusted corrugated industrial roofing and an acetylene torch, their shape and stature grew.

I don’t know where these entities come from–or why.  But they’re still demanding “air time.”  And that is the dilemma I’m facing with eco printing.

I love what I consider to be the magic of eco printing.  Love the surprises.  The constant barrage of “what ifs?”  Love trying to understand why the various elements act and react as they do.  So there’s all of this.  And now I find myself moving into a different phase with the process.  Moving towards the things inside me–the ubiquitous primicons –that want out.

Primicons are the expressions that come out of me.  In truth, there are other forms I would like to explore–more palatable forms perhaps–but after almost 30 years of living with these beings, I accept that they are here to stay–will probably follow me into the great beyond.

They’ve been patient with my yearlong exploration of eco printing but today I experienced a minor revolt.  They want OUT.

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So I’m “experimenting” with process.  How to create in a way that eco prints and primicons can co-exist while maintaining the sustainable, environmentally benign characteristics of eco printing?

These  first, initial experiments have a ways to go.  And although I have concerns about their appeal–appeal of the primicon–clearly it’s a  moot point.

 

 

The History of Color: Himalayan Rhubarb and Yellow Onions

8 Apr

Himalayan Rhubarb:   a traditional natural dye from the Himalayan  mountains between India and Bhutan.  The plant grows in altitudes from 3-5000 meters and yields a deep golden yellow color with an alum mordant.  Shifts in pH will create more yellow or nearly brick red colors.  The dye is aromatic and earthy smelling .

Color amazes me.  Amazes me for several reasons.  The least of which is simply that I often take it for granted. But my sojourn into natural dye  has opened my eyes to both the significance and history of color.  To put this into perspective, just think– this country, the United States, has a history of a few hundred years. Whereas the color yellow has roots dating back to  the caves of Lascaux where we find  a yellow horse estimated to be 17,300 years old.  To say it again, I’m amazed by color.

I’m intrigued that thousands of years ago, people discovered the value of plant stuff–both as medicine and as color sources.   And since I’m also intrigued by most things Tibetan, it’s no surprise that when I came across Himalayan Rhubarb, I was compelled to try it out.

In her classic compilation, Wild Color, Jenny Dean says that “In Himalayan regions, species of rhubarb are particularly valued for their contribution to the dye pot. In parts of Tibet and Ladakh, and among Tibetan refugees in Nepal, rhubarb root is the most common source of yellow dye, and species of rhubarb have long been sought after locally. The roots are dried, chopped up, and ground into powder before use, and give strong, fast shades of yellow, gold, and orange.”

So here:  experiments with Himalayan Rhubarb–the left is a lousy image–in real life the yellow is very rich.  And the color on the right–HR with a modified PH–in otherwords, I added washing soda to the water and this is what happened.  Can’t you see why I love this so much!

And the significance of colors in Tibet?  Yellow:  Yellow symbolizes rootedness and renunciation. Buddha Ratnasambhava is associated with yellow. The nose is represented by this color. Earth is the element that accompanies the color yellow. Yellow transforms pride into wisdom of sameness when visualized in meditation.

dalai-lama

I had so wanted this garment to be Himalayan Rhubarb.  It’s not.  This yellow comes from onion skin.  Another powerful source for symbolizing rootedness and renunciation.

HB 2 and Mollusks

6 Apr

Now I don’t claim to be an authority on mollusks or clams.  In fact I had to read up on them.  This morning I was contemplating the very wonders of this shell–a shell I called a  IMG_3208-001

clam.  It’s beautiful to behold.  And I wondered what the white patch was, figuring it was an attachment point–and then wondered about its genesis.  I began seeing a finger–a pointing finger and I listened to what it was asking of me. Heard a whisper of the lesson wrapped up in this fragile remnant of life.

How had it come to be, this what-was-once a luminescent creature?  Where had its life begun?  Where had it been?  And what were the odds that from inception to now, it would end up on my sitting bench?

From mollusks to humans, isn’t it clear that some higher energy/force/being (whatever name you put on it) creates miracles, not mistakes?  Tell that to our legislators.

There’s a correlation here between the perfection of creation–be it mollusk or human– and the arrogance of the NC General Assembly.  If there is any doubt, just check out NC HB2.  Discrimination at its best.

 

 

Natural Dyeing & Printing Workshop

1 Apr

I seem to be good for about 5 hours before sensory overload kicks in and I CAN NOT ABSORB another bit of info.  Like a sponge unable to take in one more drop.  It’s a weird feeling.  Sensory and mental too-muchness.  The workshop–down in Asheville’s River Arts District–is being offered by Catherine Ellis.  Weaver, shibori  and natural dye expert and all ’round source of an amazing amount of information.

Last year I took her natural dyeing course but this year’s add-on–printing with natural dyes–takes the process to an entirely different level.  Working with indigo, madder, cochineal, weld etc.

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Checking reduction of indigo vat.

Learning amazing techniques for printing with color onto color.  And thinking of ways to incorporate all of this into Eco printing. image

The Language of Leaves

 

On Mindfulness

30 Mar

Have been wondering this–about mindfulness– wondering if I really know what it is. I thought I did until I reflected back upon yesterday.  And I will bring this full circle but first–

Yesterday I was very busy.  In the morning I set up the backdrop for a photo shoot. Involved wrangling two large stands against a brick wall and hanging a black background cloth.  At 10 a friend came over–modeled scarves to be added to the website.  One hour to visit & one hour to shoot. Quick lunch.

Then checking shipping options on website–could I find an app to calculate shipping based on zip code instead of just listing a flat rate?  Found nothing.  Worked on trying to download pics from ipad to pc.  PC  not recognizing Ipad.  Called Apple–on hold 28 minutes–finally spoke to a person who asked for my contact number because we had a poor connection–he said.   Muttered a few choice words when he didn’t call back then returned to laptop.  Pics were there.   (I’ll never figure this out.)  But the color from this morning’s shoot was totally different from the color of the previous afternoon–so a morning-light scarf looked nothing like the afternoon-light scarf.   Marveled over this a while.  The color of light.

And in the afternoon light I reshot some scarves.  A neighbor dropped in for a few minutes–dropped off potatoes.  Back to capturing images.

Then back to the “lab” as my sister calls it–she says other things, too, and hints that perhaps I’m a mad scientist–or a brewer of wild concoctions–of the witchy variety.  Rinsed and fixed four eco printed scarves from the previous day.

 

Caught up in the depth of the color and images–leaves floating on water–a pond–blue water–a magical place.  Then lots of this and that before retiring for the night.

Now back to mindfulness.  I felt very present during the day–totally immersed in what I was doing–focused.  Intentional. But I’ve always thought that mindfulness meant being aware that I’m practicing being mindful–like creating a space from where I observe self going through the day’s gymnastics.  And no, I wasn’t paying attention to how  I was maneuvering the flow of the day–but present to the what that I was doing.  In retrospect I was just right there.  Absorbed in each activity.  So I guess the question becomes–is being present the same thing as being mindful?

I’m wondering simply from a place of curiosity–nonjudgmental–just wondering.

(A sidebar:  Just now I typed the word “in”–except my hand had moved to the right by one key.  One over from what I was taught is the “home” position.  Try it. )

OM

 

 

 

 

www.thelanguageofleaves.com

 

 

 

Eco printing and Color in Carolina

28 Mar

Seems like the seasons are flattening out–one leading into the other w/o much transition or distinction.  But it’s spring now and color is back on this soil’s palette.  Now–if I were more literate technically you could already be viewing the mother of all forsythias.

But I’m not.  Not quite illiterate but nearly and it’s driving me nuts.  Like just now, I tried to download pics from phone to pc.  PC didn’t recognize iphone so I had to send each image as an email to my desktop.  Then I tried to save them to insert here and they’re off on some g-drive.  I found them and can look at them but that’s it.  No idea how to move them here because wordpress doesn’t support their current format.  Do I sound frustrated.  Back in a bit.

Okay. Had different options this time.

Now look at this–while trying to upload pics of the redbud, weld and woad, dogs’ morning-sniff-about I stumbled upon this option.  A slide show.  Does it work?  Too tedious?

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Forsythia is about 25′ in width.  Image does not convey the sunshine she emits. The single rosette green plant is weld–traditional plant for yellow.  When I eco print with it, though, it leaves a wonderful green image.  The other greens are woad–similar to indigo in the way it has to be processed to give up its color.

So what I’m loving about eco printing–in addition to its beauty–is the fact that the materials I need for working with it are simply a step out the front door.  I try really hard only to use foraged material–stuff that’s already fallen from the tree or plant.  Recycling energy.  I’m also intrigued by the notion of slow color–of letting botanicals brew for however long–but truth be told, I’m not good at waiting so generally use steam to facilitate the process.

Where I was leading with this is the fact that eco printing/natural dyeing has brought home to me the adverse impact commercially dyed fabric has on the environment.   And along those same lines I’m doing somewhat of an experiment.  Trying to see if I can go an entire year w/o buying anything  new–even if it comes from Goodwill.  And I’m upcycling garments that I haven’t worn in a few years–a dress and a shirt.  Big pockets on the front–essential for all the stuff I seem to gather in a day’s time.

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and this –a coat I made during the winter by felting wool from old sweaters. Repurposed, recycled, reused.  Another R word is trying to surface–two actually.  Returning and roots. As in an idea I may blog about later.

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That’s it for now.  And please may I get faster at blogging.

Oh wait–a fine green eco print that came about from light indigo over dyed with goldenrod.

pale green

and if you’re so inclined–check out:  www.thelanguageofleaves.com

Ending Winter’s Hibernation

25 Mar

I’m reeling here.  Trying to remember how to do this.  Everything looks so different–format, layout, graphics.  Reeling because my last post was October 4… and for those of you who asked, I think I responded that soon, soon I would be ready to post again.  Clearly “soon” meant something else.  I also feel a little–just a little–like a prodigal blogger–returning home.

Winter was weird this year.  Not very cold.  Not very long.  But lots of changes taking place,  both internally and externally.  On the external side, I’ve got to confess that this year’s political circus really has my attention.  Not since George McGovern have I felt real passion for a candidate, and now it seems the stakes are really high.  I also feel as though I’m watching a cosmic drama unfold–and the characters seem so alien to me.  Yep–I’ve got the Bern.  Have it pretty bad.  Even made two phone calls for him before the SC primary, but quickly realized my contribution had to be elsewhere.

The phone call that really convinced me was the second one–a very deaf older woman and an equally deaf husband.  He didn’t want to talk–wasn’t one bit interested in anything related to Bernie Sanders–but he forgot to hang up and for a minute I overheard the conversation he was having with his wife.  Asking how the injury on her leg was–was it still bleeding–what should they do?  The interesting thing was I felt as though I had trespassed into they home.  Felt like an intruder.  A peeping tom.  So that was the end of that.

OK.  The externals.  And the internals–don’t want to really wax poetic here, but internally I’m sensing an integration that is pretty unfamiliar.  That’s all I’ll say for now.

In October I was just skimming the surface of eco printing.  Learning the process.  Understanding the leaves.  Identifying what worked and what didn’t.  And I’m still in that beginner’s mind phase, but the results are changing.  I love ecoprinting the way Grace loves cloth.  (I love cloth, too, and look at some of my old pieces with a new-found admiration).  But this ride on the back of eco printing feels like it may be a long one.

I’ve got a web site now and finally made the decision to try selling on line for real.  Utilizing social media.  Am I really saying this?  I ask myself that right now–“am I really saying this–am I really going to try?  And the answer is clearly “yes.”  That’s all.   The learning curve has been incredibly steep.  Incredibly.

Enough of this.  I really don’t imagine I’ll get many comments from this post–but I just had to make the effort to reconnect.  So here it is.  And for those who might be curious–here’s a few of the scarves I’ve recently printed, using various natural background–i.e. cochineal, logwood, yellow onion and cutch.

Logwood on left, cochineal on right.  And spring is right around the corner.  Sending love your way….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gathering–Gathering Thoughts–Gathering Leaves

4 Oct

My freezer is full of leaves.  Last night I inventoried my stash–low on white oak but tons of sourwood from a downed tree of a friend.  Could stand more sweet gum, butterfly bush and sumac–but for now I’m just fine.  So far, these are my go-to leaves for printing.  Leaves that will probably do  something.  Or not.

A thought came to me this morning while I was gathering wet white oak–a memory.  A memory of years ago gathering red maple leaves with my mother.  During her last few years, when she was still able to get out, we would take a drive every Sunday.  And in the fall, there was nothing she wanted more than to drive up onto the mountains and either peer down into the New River Gorge or collect ruby-red foliage.  It was amazing watching her while she was still able to ambulate–bending over and picking up her treasures–and then when she became too tottery–she’d point with her canemom's cane–a cane I found in an old secondhand store–a strong stick probably from rhododendron–with a gnarled handle that fit perfectly into her hand (and my own).  I painted it up with an old container I had of interference purple, hot-glued shiny glass beads and stars all over it–stuck a skid proof stopper on its end–and presented it to her one year at Christmas.  She loved it.

But back to the leaf gathering.  When she was no longer able to stoop, she’d simply point with the cane, pin a leaf down and tell me in no uncertain terms that she wanted “that one.”  And “that one–and yes, that one, too.”  This could go on for a long time.  And I think of this now and wish that after the ten thousandth leaf, I had been more patient.  Because really, I was only patient for a while. The leaves were taken home–many of them ironed in between waxed paper and I’m wondering what happened to them.  Wondering why I didn’t keep them when we cleared out her house.   That’s what I remembered this morning gathering leaves.

So–back to now–Joaquin may be on the way out but it’s still gray, windy and wet.  Leaves are coming down like crazy and the poplars, sumac and sourwoods are yellowing and reddening up.  Seems kinda late to me–but this is new–this obsession with ecoprinting–so I can’t rely on memory to tell me what last year’s trees were doing.  Anyway, last year at this time I had sold my house and was getting ready to move.  So I don’t know.  But I do know this–I’ve never, ever seen seed pods sprouting “on the vine.”

c and m sprouting

I was letting the spent blossoms stay on the flowers as long as possible before harvesting them–but look–the marigold  seed bundle in the foreground is sprouting–and in the upper right hand corner?  Dyer’s coreopsis sprouting before it even hits the ground.  Seems strange.

And the palette is changing now with the season.  Blue from sourwood.  Yellow from sumac turning.  Brown from acer.  Some times I over-dye but this one will stay as is.  It’s beautiful when the light hits the silk.

closeup of sourwood

But now I am going to reprint this a.m.’s scarf.  Trusty sourwood pulled an “or not” and simply did not print.  Left only a ghostly ever so faint yellow. Kinda like memories.

Ecoprinting, Natural Dyeing, and the Love of Leaves

30 Sep

Been gone so long I won’t try to backtrack.  Just enough to say I’ve turned into an ecoprinting maniac…

My last post–August 10–captured an experiment.  There have been many in the interim.  Many flops and  enough success to keep me hooked.  But I’m better at turning the uglies into o.k. images.

Too much has happened in six weeks.  Too much to say. Too much to blather on about. Better to just let the pictures reveal the moments, for now.

But just one thing–thank you to Cynthia–and Marti.  Grace.  And Liz.

My head has been in the trees.  And I have been in the forest.

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Natural Dye Workshop

with Dede Styles (in blue)–an amazing, amazing woman

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Yellows from fall asters, broom sedge and black oak bark.

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Celebrating Logan’s 9th birth

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and a pic he took yesterday

Mostly close-ups of some ecoprints on silk

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And on Sept. 19th we had an amazing collaborative fiber/tea sale–with

…Sumitra–purveyor of fine teas–

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…Sister Jennifer the Weaver.

…Heather from Scotland…a fine, fine artist…with some of her t’s.

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…my first born…Emily with some of her many creations

…and me…holding blue

trunk show

Finally– today’s sky…

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with last week’s indigo.

If you’ve taken the time to gaze here, thank you.  A big, big thank you.  Sorry some of the images won’t open larger–and there seem to be some crossed wires embedded in this posting itself…but the cauldron calls….

Eco printing : And Learning to Sample

10 Aug

I tore through a lot of silk scarves before it dawned on me that I could just as easily make samples and avoid the disappointment of experimenting with leaves that don’t print.  So that’s what I’ve been doing–even taking notes.  I’ve pretty much honed in on the leaves that want to give up their color and leaves that just leave ever so faint images on the cloth to the cloth.  Here are a few samples from today.

golden mystery

mystery tree

I’m not sure the name of the tree these leaves come from. It’s on the corner near the driveway and when we were coming back from feeding our neighbor’s 10 pound goldfish–seriously–the yard was covered with these leaves–fresh from today’s thunder storm. Wet leaves. Precious as jewels. The one bluish leaf in the first pic is the tree I adore–SourWood. And the circle shape was cut from a eucalyptus leaf which is more precious to me than gold. First cloth is habotai silk. Second picture is raw silk.

I’ve planted a tree–eucalyptus neglecta–it’s supposed to survive in zone 7 where we live. And should be a fast grower. OK.

 

Stitching a Journal of Sorts

4 Aug

I didn’t document the evolution of this cloth during the recent family sojourn to the ocean. But the stitching started with birds that emerged–one of the top right hand side, and one midway down on the left. The birds changed as the week progressed–as other elements raised their hand for acknowledgment. And suddenly I was captured in the “under tow.” Recording the deeper stuff. IMG_2310 (1) It’s all there. A map of the trip. The inner and outer journey. What one sees and what one senses.

This will not be a slow cloth. Lessons perceived and bucket holes noticed are begging for thread-time. So it’s going quickly–a cloth on a mission. A recording in stitch.

When I look back at pictures of the cloth, before stitch was added, I wonder. There was so much potential, I think, and yet, like a dream catcher, this is what was caught.

underworld

Ocean Bound with Cloth

25 Jul

transcending

A dye sampler waiting for stitch

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Indigo and Eco Printing

20 Jul

Busy eco printing, finding what works, what doesn’t (plenty) and enjoying little magical moments of happenstance.  (Like the fact that baking soda turns red onion impressions from red/purple to blue green.)  The results have been staggering.DSC03308 DSC03309 DSC03313 DSC03316

Always Changing

15 Jul

Sometime in 2013

stone woman

Today–7/15/2015

happy goddess

Silk Scarves and Crow

2 Jul

I have a need for magic. For the mysterious. The unknown. A need for serendipity and chance. And I’m getting a huge dose of it. Eco printing. Doing things–things I often can’t repeat because even though I tell myself I’m taking good notes, when I refer back to them–well, let’s just say they don’t tell me much. But that’s the nature of a certain type of magic–it happens by itself.

I don’t know how long this phase will last–this passion for imprinting nature onto cloth. But right now I’m in the throes of it. A freezer near full of leaves.

Witch Hazel
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Saturday night I was visiting with friends–and had been asked to bring my current work. Scarves. Had no idea really how they would be received. Was hesitant. But the response was amazing. Three women of the three women there each bought a scarf. After much looking and deciding. Nothing I’ve ever created before has EVER been met with such enthusiasm. Yes, it was just three women — not a broad cross-sampling of the population–but for me it’s a sign and I’m taking it.   Items listed in Shopping Place.

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Sourwood
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Peony
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But for me the blessing–cloth has called me back. Crow surrounded by magic from the dye vat.crow

Good Seed Rising–Marking Time

24 Jun

Two new very slow cloths are beginning to evolve–initially scraps stitched together to insure they didn’t disappear into the dyed scrap vortex. And now they’re holding story of sorts. Not sure at this point where they’re headed. Maybe free motion stitching filled in a la “Khaos?” Maybe not. Still unfolding. But they’ve whispered their names:

Good Seed Rising ~ 24″ x 14″

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Marking Time ~ 20″ x 24″
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I’m ambivalent about Marking Time–maybe because it seems so literal? but as I study it on the screen, I’m seeing something in the center, in the gray rectangle. It looks like a bird.

And just a word on this whole eco dyeing process. It’s amazing. Yesterday I spotted a sourwood tree that was little and very accessible. Not in anyone’s yard. In fact, it was in a dead-end alley that I drove down simply because I had a feeling. And there it was. Sourwood. The tree that gets so large, harvesting leaves requires a ladder. But I’ve seen the amazing marks the leaves leave. And I’ve turned into a dangerous driver trying to locate them.

So this. A cross section of another silk scarf. Toned down with a soak in water holding rusty objects. Initially it was really blue. Heading out in a bit to harvest a few more leaves. This time will let the scarf dry before I decide on the color.  Sumac leaves are proving the resist.  Unintentionally.

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Nine Lives. Nine Seeds.

22 Jun

What can be said about the events in Charleston, SC last week? Words cannot explain it, change it, fix it or prevent it from happening again. Words in themselves are useless. Even a parrot can talk.

At a memorial service here on Friday, the minister Brent La Prince Edwards– who grew up in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston– described the meaningful, vital lives of each victim. He knew them. Personally. And somehow he managed to deliver a positive, uplifting eulogy. Reminding us that the balance can shift–that “it’s our turn now.” To step into the world we envision. To see that it does happen.

I suppose that’s possible. I’m just not sure.

But this morning I opened the seed pod of the false indigo. Babtista. I counted–9 seeds and a lot of sweet nectar.

There are no words. But there are seeds. Yes, there are seeds.

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Eco Dyeing with “Clotho” and Khaos”

15 Jun

When I first moved here four years ago, I left a 93 acre WV mountain farm. Had lived there 15 years or so. Of course it was a huge change and there have been trade-offs. And once here, it was clear that cloth was calling out to me.   I didn’t  know why, But just now, looking for the name of the Greek mythological figure that emerged from the very slow cloth, I found the answer. There she was. There she has been. Clotho. “The youngest of the Three Fates who spin the thread of life.” I’ve been seduced by Clotho.

And then Jude Hill http://spiritcloth.typepad.com serendipitously appeared and between her influence and the guidance of Clotho, this journey with cloth has been an amazing series of discoveries. A delving into. Into self. Into life. And maybe most importantly, a medium for maintaining a connection with the earth.

But first the very slow cloth is nearing completion. Khaos, Greek for “the nothingness from which all sprang.”

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OK.  For the last three weeks I have been totally immersed in natural dyeing.  Dyeing utilizing vegetation in my surrounds.  And there is a ton of it here–vegetation–and not just quantity but the varieties are staggering.  So a lot of interesting cloth has emerged.  Some pretty ugly–and some really interesting.  I think I’m finally starting to understand on a very beginner’s level what steps to take to encourage cloth to accept color.   Wool is a protein fiber.  Much more receptive to color from the earth.  Silk is a hybrid of sorts.  And cotton/muslin/linen–well it really has to be encouraged.

I love muslin.  I love linen–especially old linen garments that have become thinner and softer over the years.  Two of my oldest and favorite linen shirts seemed to be begging for an update.  Shirts were soaked in vinegar overnight and then bundled up with peony leaves, yellow onion skin, purple basil that’s growing all over the place here, and a few mulberry leaves.

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Close up
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Close up
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A few more peony leaves on linen:
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And my favorites. Leaves on Muslin.

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Now silk is another story all together. I bought several habotai silk scarves from Dharma Trading and have printed 5. Have 5 to go. If the results continue to improve I’m hoping to sell them either online or in a shop somewhere.

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Unexpected joys are resulting from this exercise in eco printing. Yesterday a little plant called to me over and over again. Finally I referenced my 1968 Peterson Field Guide to discover it was Heal-All or Selfheal.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunella_vulgaris

And so
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Weld and Woad in the dye garden are starting to grow. The madder is taking it’s good time which doesn’t surprise me. Roots need to be at least 5 years old before they can be used. Marigolds doing great.
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And finally, reminder to self. Don’t wait so long to post. Too much happens in between.

Evolution, Origins and Shadows: The Journey of a Very Slow Cloth

26 May

So. This slow cloth which has taken so long–finally letting me know what it is. It began as an exercise. An assemblage of cloth scraps that I love. Scraps I had dyed in all different mediums–but had been boxed up since the move. And then because at the time I was using the machine a lot, the whole cloth experienced a free motion application of thread. And then more thread–hand stitched color defining shape. Pulling out content. Giving meaning too.

And even though the bottom 2/3 of the cloth had the appearance of otherworldly abodes–waters and oceans and primordial habitats–and even though the top 1/3 seemed to emerge into a more celestial realm, the story was still evolving. And it became clear, as so often happens, by stitch. Not good stitch especially, but stitch that was applied un-mindfully–and because there was so much of it, I simply had to cover it up. The scraps at hand took shape on their own..and became this being embracing spheres–of life–balanced– Balanced and grounded .  Grounded but still needing to respond to the moment.  Fine-tune as events change.  Move a bit one way or the other.  Perched and balanced with the ability to respond.

And still very connected to the origin from which it arose. The underbelly of consciousness. The deep. The abode of all creativity, energy, understanding and mystery.   The unknown.   There are two spirits wanting to emerge–down in the bottom left and right corner of the cloth.  I’m waiting for them to emerge–and then the cloth will be complete.

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Color and Chakra

19 May

This morning.  Finishing three baskowls.  Thanks to Mo I’m visualizing chakra colors now in their evolution.  DSC03075
Third Eye

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Open Heart

 

 

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Grounding

 

No sun. No shadows. But a lovely cool breeze and lots of crow conversation.

The One Thing

18 May

I  look at this picture and my heart swells with love.  Love that literally flows and moves through my body.  I look around.  Bowls, baskets, partially finished cloth–and yes, what I see I like very much.  But nothing else opens the door of my heart like this.  It is a physical sensation.  A sensation that allows breath and energy to enter through the crown of my head, complete a full circuit and dispel again into  the wild blue beyond.  I’m posting it here so I can come and see and experience this opening– often.  Otherwise, it will become buried in picture files and desktop garble and all of the other places I put things that I want to recall–but always have trouble finding again.

When I lived in an ashram, pictures of our guru served this same heart-opening experience for many.  I have a dear friend who is a devotee of Amma.  Amma’s pictures adorn her environment.  Function as reminder and heart opener for her.  There are many ways we do this in our lives–we place objects of importance around to remind us of the wonders, mystery and glory of existence.  To remind us.  To encourage heart opening.

So.  Because this blog chronicles for me what I need to remember, here.  This.  The One thing.logan

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