I’ve been meaning to share with you some of the scarves I made before Christmas but I. Have been having computer issues and avoided doing this on my ipad. I’m still waiting on the computer so here I am trying to configure this post on a little ‘gadget’. These scarves shown here are a collection of silk ones I constructed myself as well as some simpler silk and silk/ wool blends which I purchased pre-hemmed. Most of the plant dyes used are local here in the Kootenays and include goldenrod, St Johns Wort, black walnut, onion skins and contact/ dye prints of coreopsis flowers, cottinus coggygria leaves, acer( maple) leaves, St. John’s wort, cosmos flowers, oak leaves, rhododendron leaves, strawberry leaves, some windfall lichen. I used a few exotic dyes on some pieces, including madder and logwood. Techniques used are vat dye baths, contact/ Eco dye printing, screen printing, ‘itajime’, clamped block resist , a shiborI technique. I used a variety of beautiful silks, crepes, habotai, raw silk, charmeuse.
I have been slowly putting some of my natural dyed and printed fabrics together into scarves with ruffles and pockets.
The colours on this piece I found extremely difficult to capture in a photo – it just does’nt do it justice – the sheen of the silk and the subtle colours I’ve used here are not showing as they should. This scarf is made of silk habotai with raw silk on the other side. Dyed with walnut husks, eco-printed and screenprinted with logwood and walnut husks, this scarf has a drawing of a nude screenprinted on one side. It can be worn with her showing or turned inside. The ruffled anemone printed edges appear on both sides of the scarf. I have always maintained drawing as a core practice and have especially liked life drawing. Using some of my drawings on garments has been an idea I’ve had for a while. I plan to make a series of these.
Over this winter, from October 2012 to the end of January 2013 I facilitated a series of art workshops with a small group of home students in my community. You may remember that I worked with these same students on another art project titled the ABC’s of Community. After the completion of this project we held an exhibit at the Hidden Garden Gallery in New Denver. As well, the gelatin plate monoprints which we did during this project, are presently on exhibit until August 13th 2013 at the ArtStarts Gallery in Vancouver in a show of student work titled Botanimalogy. The Pattern and Geometry in Nature Arts Project provided an opportunity for a small group of Distributed Learning students from kindergarten through Grade 6 to explore their community and environment through art and the alphabet. This project was funded by ArtStarts in Schools and Arrow Lakes Distributed Learning School.
This project aimed to provide these young students with an opportunity to explore patterns and growth in nature through a variety of visual arts media, including printmaking, painting, drawing, earth art and fibre art. I guided students through a range of geometric drawing explorations and visual art experiences. Students explored patterns in nature as well as geometric design in a journey through the circle. The focus that these young students gave to learning the tools of the geometer: the compass and straightedge, was rewarded by their new ability to create the vesica piscis, triangle, square, six pointed star and polygons out of the circle. They were able to grasp basic concepts of geometry, recognize recurring patterns and shapes in nature and integrate them into their art.
This is some of the amazing artwork accomplished by these students:
We made explorations of patterns in natural objects using brush and ink:
Gelatin Plate mono printing using found natural objects and geometric stencils made by students:
Some of the painted and block printed mandalas:
Our final project was hand painted 3D fabric sculptures. Students began with drawing designs in their sketch book and measuring and cutting out strips of fabric. These pieces of fabric were painted with vibrant coloured textile dyes and then sewn into ‘tubes’ and assembled into 3 dimensional fabric sculptures. It required a lot of patience and persistence for these young people to learn how stitch these tubes together, leaving a channel for wire which they inserted before stuffing the shapes with fill. They had to hand stitch the stuffed pieces together. Quite an accomplishment!
I feel honoured to have had another opportunity to work with these amazing young people. I am grateful to their parents and to Scott Kipke, the DL teacher, for inviting me once again, as well as to Lucerne School for providing the classroom space and the Hidden Garden Gallery for the use of their beautiful exhibit space.
Cotton and linen dyed with madder, cutch, osage orange, black walnut and birch – some have shibori stitched designs and in the foreground cotton with eco-printed rhododendron leaves and madder root.
About three weeks ago I decided to give myself one day off a week, free from distractions like technology, the radio and even my regular production work in my studio. Freedom to explore new directions in my art. It led me to natural dyes, something which I had first experienced a number of years ago at one of the workshops I have taken over the years at Maiwa Handprints in Vancouver. I had the great pleasure of taking a natural dye and mudcloth workshop with Michele Wipplinger of EarthHues. At the time I came home with packages of natural dyes and earth pigments but never seemed to have the time to come back to them. I have been using the dyestuffs I purchased as well as some I’ve managed to forage for locally.
I have become utterly addicted to this amazing process of natural chemistry. For the last few weeks I have been reading and learning about the process of dyeing cloth with plant , and sometimes insect, dyes. I have been scouring, mordanting and dyeing fabrics and carefully tagging each piece of cloth with the types and quantities of mordants, dyes and processes. (mordants are needed to bond the dyestuff to the cloth and are also used to influence colour) I’ve been using mostly cotton and linen, but I have some wool fabric sitting in a madder dye bath right now turning the most glorious earthly red! My first piece of silk is being mordanted in alum today.
I have also begun to experiment with eco-prints, a process of steam dyeing with leaves and plant material presented by Australian botanical alchemist India Flint in her book Eco Colour. Being winter, there is minimal foraging to be done until the blooming of summer, but there is still tree bark around as well as some still green rhododendron leaves. I also found a bag of local black walnuts which, when I removed the husks for dye colour, I noticed the amount of colour still remaining on the nutshells. They were promptly bound in linen and steamed:
Not quite as much colour as I had hoped for but can be worked over later. They have a kind of mushroomy colour and patterning left by the bindings.
So I’m hooked!
Next for me is to figure out how to screen print with these dyes and earth pigments because I do like working with images. Another goal is to grow a few plants this summer that can be used for extracting dye. I know I have some already – can’t wait to lay my hands on that St John’s Wort and Mullein!
“Seedpods and Flowers”, my new collection of soft fiber necklaces are now available in Garnish. Right in the heart of Revelstoke, Garnish is an artist owned boutique with a full working studio. The boutique features all Canadian jewelers, three of which work out of the studio space in the back of the store. I am excited to have my fiber art jewelry featured amongst these talented jewelers.
Metallic green poppyhead fiber necklace with screenprinted cotton border and hand dyed copper hemp silk cord.
The first of my Seedpod collection of soft fibre necklaces are ready to share with the world. They feature the first of my six new pod and blossom screenprint designs. All are hand dyed, screenprinted and stitching is done by hand and machine. Fastenings are made with handmade loops and beautiful mother of pearl buttons.
More designs are in the making featuring poppy pods and other seedpods. I wrote about my inspiration for these designs here: Autumn’s Inspiration for Design.
Nature my muse has offered me some little wonders today. Summer poppies have dried out leaving the beautiful forms of their seed pods and are poised to disperse their tiny little seeds far and wide. Meanwhile the Japanese anemones are in full bloom, waving their little faces in the chilly fall breeze.
I am in the process of designing tiny images for screen printing onto fiber art necklaces I am designing and making for Garnish, an artist owned boutique and studio featuring Canadian jewelers. I am very excited to have the opportunity to have my work in this stylish jewelry and accessory shop in downtown Revelstoke. Below is an example of the kind of pieces I am working on. Expect to see some new and surprising work from me in the next month.
On Saturday, September 1st, 2012, I participated in one of my favourite community art events. Arts by the Lake has become a much anticipated annual event held in the exquisite Kohan Gardens in New Denver, BC. Visitors are delighted by artists, music, workshops and garden tours as they meander through this beautiful and inspiring landscaped garden. This Japanese style garden was designed and is maintained by a group of volunteers in honour of the Japanese Canadians who were interned in New Denver, BC during World War II. It is one of the most special places to visit any time of the year in the village as the garden is designed to change with the seasons.
My booth – Morgen Bardati at Art by the Lake in the Kohan Garden
Artist Barbara Maye with her paintings
Arts by the Lake was presented by The Slocan Lake Gallery and Garden Societies.
Vat dyes are dyes which discharge colour from previously dyed cloth and replace it with a background of new colour. Shibori stitched, bound, twisted or clamped resist techniques can be used to create beautiful vibrant patterns with this dye method. A phenomenon called the ‘halo effect’ adds another dimension of detail around the resisted areas.
I mixed olive, yellow and a bit of black to create this forest green vat dye colour. On the right of this image is a three metre length of purple dyed cotton cloth I have been working on for months using a stitched shibori pattern called mokume, a traditional Japanese woodgrain pattern(notice the light ‘halo’ around the patterns) I wrote about it here with images of stitched pattern in process. I used this same straight stitch pattern in a single line to make patterns on selvedged edges which I then use as edging for skirts or cuffs. Peeking through are bold raspberry coloured shapes which were created with a technique called itajime, and uses clamped blocks to leave patterns on the fabric.
After dyeing and a light rinsing the fabric must be exposed to oxygen in the air for about 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly in soapy water. Clamps, stitching and binding can be removed at this stage but longer pieces will wait until later. I usually snip a few threads on the big shibori pieces to check on the pattern.
My sewing table has a window where I can watch village life go by as I sew. My studio is in the top floor of our heritage home which was built in 1909 and has two of these original old single pane windows. The other one is filled with the branches and leaves of a big maple tree.