Tag Archives: textile art

Patterns and Geometry in Nature Arts Project

Earth Art - Slocan Lake

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.

Morgen Brdati demonstrates printmakingMorgen demonstrates gelatin plate printmaking.

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.

fibonacci spiralGolden rectangle and growing a spiral

This is some of the amazing artwork accomplished by these students:

We made explorations of patterns in natural objects using brush and ink:

pattern exploration

Gelatin Plate mono printing using found natural objects and geometric stencils made by students:

Gelatin plate prints

Some of the painted and block printed mandalas:

Fiona' s mandalaShanna's mandalaCedar's mandalaDrawings from nature and geometric designs:

DrawingsEarth art explorations down at Slocan Lake (on a cold and windy day):

making a mandala

Nature mandalaHand dyed folded paper and marbling:

Dyed paper and marblingHand dye painted cushions which students sewed themselves:

dyed cushionsCushions and mandalas on exhibit at the Hidden garden Gallery:

cushions and mandalasOur 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!

Shanna3

Fiona

Juniper's fish

IMG_1523 copy

gallery of student artI 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.

Forays into Natural Dyeing

Naturally dyed cloth

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.

A pile of natural dyed clothEach piece of cloth, no matter how small, is labeled with a record of mordants, dyes and processes.

Freshly scoured and stackedAn assortment of bits of cloth freshly scoured and bundled, ready to be mordanted.

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:

walnut shibori

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.

Rhodendron, madder root and black walnutIn the foreground cotton muslin eco-printed with bits of left over madder root and rhododendron leaves. My first attempt at this technique sure charmed me.

wool in madderWool fabric turning a glorious earthly red in the left over madder dyed from last week’s dyebath.

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!

 

 

A glimpse inside my studio

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.

‘Handscape’ shibori dyed and printed wall hanging with my newest garments ready for summer art fairs and markets.