The house is a clean but cluttered wreck lately; there are arts and crafts supplies literally everywhere. Studio in town be damned, I need the ability to work immediately and constantly, and it is eating up our lives and living spaces. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the Craftsy filming can’t come soon enough, although also, I could really use another six weeks to feel truly ready. I think it’s always like that, though.
To offset my growing anxiety, and in order to encourage myself to slow down somewhat, I’ve been working on eco-printing and some natural dye projects; simple, all-natural processes involving locally sourced dyestuffs on small pieces of silk fabric and time. While I’ve read quite a lot on the technique over the last few years and attended a few seminars, I’ve never taken it up with any real attention until recently.
I’ve ordered some larger pieces of silk, and I’m gathering a pretty wide variety of supplies— food scraps, so many onion skins that I’m even getting them shipped in from friends (Cacie, you’re a dream, THANK YOU), random plants and flowers I pick because they’re beautiful, useful, or personally significant in some weird, hard-to-define way.
Working with different folds, waiting periods, mordants, mordant combinations, plants, etc has been a good distraction from my mounting stress over preparations for next week’s filming. The work is so very different from my everyday dyeing; it’s a break, mentally, and there’s an element of surprise each time I open a bundle.
There’s a spirit of form, time, and place to these pieces that speaks to me in a very direct way, a method of capturing the figure of the plants, their form in that moment, and using them to speak to a place or time, as well. The ephemeral nature of leaves, petals, and tree bark makes flash-freezing them into textiles in this way incredibly nostalgic, sensual, and a little subversive.
Most of these pieces were made quickly, in under a week; I’ve got some one-month projects going now and I’m incredibly excited about those, and I’ve started planning full garments, as well, because what’s the use of being middle-aged if I can’t dress like an oversized kindergartener? NO USE WHATSOEVER, that’s what.
I’m not sure what we will do with these small bits of silk yet- there’s about 10-15 of them, all experimental, in varying levels of success.
We’re tossing around the idea of picking up some cotton Kona, dyeing it with black walnut or something similar and using that to help join everything together in a quilt. I’m not sure about that, but it’s an idea. Maybe not a great one yet, but I’m working it up.
When I’m not knee-deep in frantic making, I’ll post more about these; there’s been a lot of interest, and I’ve been fielding questions in email and social media. I can only tell you what I’ve learned from experimentation, and point you to my sources, but it’s really fun, and there are versions you can do with kids, too, using fruit and teas. We can talk about that when I’m a little less panicky and stress-makey, though. Back to the mines with me.
What do you do when you’re full of free-floating anxiety? Where do you spend your excess energy, folks? I have waaaaaaay too much of it going on lately. Point me in productive directions before I give myself a repetitive stress injury.