When I count my luck, one of the things I always know, is how lucky I am to have such great artist friends, who generously collaborate and share their talent. Some teasers from a recent playdate follow.
And if you are inspired, I encourage you to seek out my dear friend Lorri Scott at a class she is teaching, or event she is participating in. I could not have imagined any of these pieces happening without her help.
Some of the pieces are almost straight dye – I folded the woven shirt and tee with a few ties for a slightly mottled or marbled look in indigo, my favourite colour to watch. When you take fabric out of the indigo pot, it is a wonderful green that turns cyan and then a blue that can be pale or, with repeated dye dips, as deep as lapis, or midnight blue as it oxidizes. No matter how many times I see this, it is always magic. It is as fun as watching a print come up in the darkroom. Like darkroom printing, dyeing is one of those activities that can be described as the most fun you can have with your clothes on;-)
The threads either picked up or rejected the dye, depending on their own fiber makeup (the un-dyed ones are most likely synthetic, whereas the lovely edge stitching on the tee picked out in strong blue was almost certainly all-cotton).
The other irresistible exploration was using plant materials,and various metals to produce leaf, petal and metal prints or colour transfers. We played with these on silk, cotton, watercolour paper and yarn, ribbon and lace as well as on a linen-viscose sweater I had found just for this purpose. For some pieces, we used an iron bath (including on some of the papers) and other metal bits, or sticks, wrapped with ribbon or fabric. There are so many possibilities and it is like opening a present every time you take the dyed package apart and open it out.
The ribbons were the most fun, and probably the easiest. It was tempting to play with ribbons and the metals and plants for the rest of the day, but there were so many other possibilities that competed for time!
I had one piece which I had to work up my confidence for: a lightweight linen & viscose sweater that I wanted to use with eucalyptus leaves and a bit of copper. The result is both watery and detailed in areas, with clouds of a lovely aqua verdigris that have bloomed a bit in the days since our dye playdate. I think this piece will get a bit of embellishment and I will replace the original buttons (removed as they were made of a metallized plastic that might behave strangely in the dye circumstances, and were, well, just not that nice). One of the good things about doing something like this with other people is the enthusiasm and cross-fertilization of ideas and suggestions, and the support to experiment and embrace the unexpected. Most of this falls into what we would call personal work, not necessarily production work or creating pieces intended to sell or exhibit. That frees me, oftentimes removing the expectation that the work will proceed in s specific direction with a planned outcome. Sometimes I can ignore my internal editor and see where the cloth, paper, or whatever material (even stone) shall take me.
I love the playful process that this group of creative-minded friends brings out. Fiber is not my primary art form, but has been a source of great inspiration since I took my first spinning and dying class over 35 years ago, and met a master textile artist who shared her passion. I love the generous spirit that these fiber folk take part in, breathe in, and exhale. It encourages and nurtures the optimist in me. For that, I am abundantly grateful – for the activity feels good, like putting on my favourite hand-dyed shirt makes me smile and feel happy.
update 14 July: you can take an inspiring virtual tour thru Lorri’s studio! here
note: click on thumbnail images to enlarge.