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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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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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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.

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

 

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

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