I’ve finally finished washing out all my dyed fabrics from last Saturday so have moved on to revisiting what I did last Sunday at the Surface Design Workshop with Lisa Walton. Yes, I had 2 days of fabric fun, followed by a week of very long hours. The audit to ensure my employer complies with the disability standards looms ever closer. I use the word ‘looms’ deliberately as I’ve been working towards this for months and it’s a bit of an unknown.
So given this is such a priority, I decided to go for a walk instead! I went in search of any interesting surfaces for some rubbings onto fabric. Unfortunately, this is a little tricky without tresspassing. Mostly I just found manhole covers :-( (see picture above). Perhaps I need to go for a walk in a more stylish neighbourhood!
Since getting home I’ve been photographing some of the pieces I bought home from the workshops and some that I’ve done since. Of course, the girls have assisted as per usual. Pity they don’t help with policy writing!
Anyway, here are the photos of the fabric from the Dye Workshop. I have NO IDEA what I’m going to do with it. When I took the workshop I thought I would learn how to dye and possibly come home with a few pieces of fabric. There are over 24 fat quarters here (and no – they aren’t all orange, that’s just my camera not cooperating!)
I mostly used the more earthy pigments Lisa had available. When it came to my ‘graduated set’ I decided to use the fuschia mixed with something (I can’t remember what!) Anyway, I quickly discovered it was a little too pink in the lighter versions so I added black to most of the pieces and that’s why my fabrics are a little mottled. I’m still not keen on those really light ones. They scream ‘paint over me!’
I learnt my lesson and avoided the fuschia dye for the rest of the day. (I thought it would be more like alizaron crimson, or quinacridone crimson but clearly not. As it turns out I found that all my paint knowledge is fairly useless when it comes to dye colours – I really couldn’t predict what colour I was going to get (apart from the basic idea of hue). I did try to get an autumnal set and was quite happy with the outcome. Evidently there was a lot more staining power in the warm colours than the green as I ended up with 5 warm to 1 green but I’m not fussed. I like it anyway!
Finally, all the pictures below are either from the Surface Design Workshop or pieces I have done since using techniques from that day.
Lisa has just published the first in an ebook series called Creative Journeys. Last week she was very excited and couldn’t wait for its launch. Well mid-week, it arrived and is now available through amazon or from Lisa directly. It’s on Fun and Easy Textile Surface Design Techniques.
It includes many of the techniques we did last week and some more. Indeed, fabric painting is a lot of fun and pretty easy – especially when it comes to salt and sundyes.
Note the all important “e” in the title of this post. When I arrived at the Dyeing Workshop this morning, one of the other participants recounted how her son had asked whether she really needed to attend a workshop on dying?
With a major project due at work at the end of the month, it’s been a long week. I’ve clocked up 43 hours of work in 4 days and probably could have done without the weekend being booked out with fabric dyeing and painting. I had booked this earlier but due to circumstances the company couldn’t control they had to move it to this weekend.
Despite not being the best timing, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. What a magnificent spring day for dyeing metres of fabric in a stunning cottage garden. I’m terribly eager to bust the fabric out of their little zip lock bag batches and take a look at the fruits of my labour… but I’m told I must wait 24 hours! I have them all laid out – it reminds me of pictures from a police drug bust haul.
The workshop facilitator – Lisa Walton of Dyed and Gone to Heaven – was very friendly, had clear instructions and with it being in her studio, it had a lovely air of hospitality (including home baked chocolate brownies for morning tea).
I gravitated generally towards the more ‘earthy’ colour pigments – what a surprise! – with one of my favourites being the ‘tangerine’. Lisa has warned me that the colours do change once dry – another reason I want to take them out of the bags, wash them off and hang them out to dry.
I do need to put them in a washing machine. I’m debating who will be more receptive to freshly dyed fabric in their washing machine – the mothership or the man? (Yes, yes, I know. Quite ridiculous that after years of renting I still don’t have a washing machine but if I got one I’d have nowhere to put the cat litter trays!)
Looking forward to the surface design workshop tomorrow. Much more familiar territory but confident that I’ll still pick up some tips and tricks. At least with tomorrow, when I get paint all over me it will come off straight away. I have managed to dye a couple of fingers blue. Lisa says it takes about 2 days to come off. I do have a 2 day seminar to run at work Monday / Tuesday. Fortunately many of them are clinical people who are used to getting messy with kids so they probably won’t be bothered by my coloured digits!
One of these days I’m going to pour gravy down Licorice’s ear. Every morning without fail I supply breakfast. I am a loyal subject and feed my 2 furry masters a generous helping. Despite this routine and commitment, Licorice seems to feel that unless she sticks her head over the bowl with great gusto that the food will not land in it. I know the day is coming when gravy will end up in her ear and I don’t really want to explain that to the vet. Perhaps it is this vigorous activity she has each morning that has helped to reduce her substantial girth. The last time the girls both went to the vets there was much cheering when Licorice tipped the scales at only 6 kilos and Saffron at 5.5!
While the girls have been busy losing weight, I’ve been creating a new art quilt for them to distribute their fur on. The first quilt I made is at Andrew’s place. The second I gave to mum for Christmas (last Christmas that is). This quilt is mine. I designed it inspired by Gustav Klimt paintings. I wanted something which suggested a female form but was not pictorial.
While I dabbled in painting fabric for the first quilt I did, this one has had a more concerted effort. It’s been fun making ‘art’ on fabric and then selecting pieces of it to sew into my quilt , together with store bought fabrics.
Above is how it looked last Saturday. I’ve left it with my sewing teacher who is sourcing some woven interfacing to help stiffen the piece before trying to attach to the background. Interfacing or not… I’m expecting there will be a few curse words trying to fit the background into those curves. Still, it will be worth it in the end. A one of kind lap quilt for me to snuggle under… next winter!
Carmen has spoken. What has happened to the blog? I’ve never met Carmen. I’m sure she exists, although I suppose it is vaguely possible she is my father’s imaginary friend. Either way she wants to know, what happened to the blog? Hmm… I think I do too. I could write a post about what’s been happening in my life since April 25, or I could give you a stream of thoughts from just this morning.
The day started with pondering the connections between children’s songs. I know. You all wake up wondering how Old Macdonald links to the Wheels on the Bus song. This for me is a sure sign that work has infected my brain temporarily. It’s not an infection that you need the serious antibiotics to be rid of. More like when you have a cold and your voice gets gravely and people notice. It’s there, it’s different and you just have to wait for it to go away.
My boss has asked me for an inspiring presentation for Wednesday. I know that inspiration is not going to come from Old Macdonald – possibly one of the most annoying children’s songs of all time. If I were free to choose any topic I like I’m sure that I could unearth some inspiration somewhere. Sadly, I am not. I need to make a quality framework sound inspiring. Galumph and humph to that. The strange thing is that at times I have been inspired. Um… scratch that. Not inspired… fired up, emotional and passionate. If I can find that, perhaps I can meet his challenge.
Meanwhile my foot is starting to groan with pins and needles. On top of my foot (besides my leg) is my cat. (times 2). They have actually lost weight. Saffron is now a cool 5.5kg and Licorice an even 6 but with both pancaked on top of my crossed leg, my poor left foot is…. VIBRATING AND SINGING… oh that would the iPad with Andrew wanting to FaceTime.
I has unearthed the iPad from under fat cats, blankets and legs.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Writing a blog post?’
‘Oh. That would the first of the year?’ [Cheeky grin]
‘Nope, the first since April 25th if you must know.’
‘And what are you doing?’
‘Reading about the legacy of pragmatism in the element of design’
Suddenly Quality Frameworks have an instantaneous appeal. They are far more lush and enticing than a 25 page orgy of academia on the construct of ideas in art. He did tell me the title of the article; I can’t remember it exactly but if I were to call it the ‘permutation and liberation of design from post modernism’ it would make just as much sense as the real title.
He read me a paragraph. It reminds me of sentences created from word salad fridge magnets, except not nearly as much fun. Certainly a long way from the TED talk I watched this morning which is promoted as ‘lyrical origami’. Only after watching the video could I truly appreciate the accuracy of the description of ‘lyrical origami’. A truly delightful, witty and mellifluous talk. Here it is for you to enjoy for yourself: http://www.ted.com/talks/rives_on_4_a_m
Did you know that wheelchair cushions have a gel insert designed to cushion your bum? Well, they make a slight well in the cushion, which, the cats tell me, is the perfect sleeping spot. Here is Andrew trying to persuade Pickle to get out of the chair.
Most of the time I would agree that to focus on the ability of people who have a disability is a good thing. Yet, there are times when the disability really has to be acknowledged for the hideous and limiting thing that it is.
Losing more function can be frightening, depressing, soul-destroying, frustrating, not to mention bloody impractical! At the end of several weeks which included all of those things, there ARE some things to be thankful for.
1) I have an amazing partner who despite losing the last remnants of his ‘walking’ and ‘standing’, only managed to lose his sense of humour for a day here and there. Without that wit and comic relief, I’m not sure where we would be right now.
2) We are fortunate to have supportive family, friends and workmates.
3) There are some bloody awesome Norweigans out there who made the molift hoist equipment.
4) It doesn’t matter how stressed you become, the cats still give you cuddles. Sometimes two at a time.
Somebody stole February; abducted her in the middle of the night and stashed her in a cupboard somewhere. It must be so. In the blog-sphere, February has been swallowed up; surely it must be foul play.
Since February vanished, mum has once again been called an ‘enigma’, a ‘diagnostic conundrum’ and just plain ‘odd’ by her neurologist.
Since February receded from view, Andrew has managed – after much angst – to secure himself the purpose built disabled unit next door. This means no more text messages advising me that I have to be there at a certain time to retrieve dinner from the oven – it will now be at the right height.
Since February was snatched, Christmas presents were framed and hung (see left) and birthdays went by without cake!
Since February was eaten by a great white, I have been to Melbourne and back, with only an addition of Springsteen’s Thunder Road to add to my iTunes library to show for it.
Since February disappeared, I have lost half an employee to university and half a partner as well.
But worst of all, since February flew by, we had to say goodbye to Pippy. She had a cancer that the vet found he couldn’t remove. That was how February ended. I was in the Melbourne convention centre near the end of a seminar. My phone vibrated and I opened it to find the words I was hoping wouldn’t be there. ‘I’m sorry, she’s gone.’ I so wanted to be with my mum and dad but I was 1000km away. I still had to do a presentation, before getting on a plane home. The next day I was able to be at “the mothership”. Pippy ruled that house. Pippy loafed in every square inch of it when she wasn’t cuddling up to my parents. Pippy adored my parents and they her.
I’ve included a few pics of her below doing what she did best, my favourite being the last one in the greenhouse ‘hammock’ that she made for herself and my dad didn’t dismantle because she loved to sleep there.
‘I need a giraffe’, I text. The reply comes swiftly. ‘Can’t you just use a spotted deer and stretch it’s neck?’ I consider Andrew’s suggestion briefly. No. I get that it’s only a paper spotted deer but stretching its neck still sounds unethical. I decide to wait until I can photocopy and enlarge myself a giraffe from my well used Dover books.
Thankfully work has a new photocopy where the ‘mirror image’ option is not so hard to find. I used it infrequently on the old machine, so each time I would start my hunt again through the excessive number of incomprehensible icon splattered menus to find it. This is part of my work/life balance. I enlarge my giraffes at work rather than taking myself off to officeworks and standing in queues. Luckily for work I don’t enlarge that many giraffes. I fear lumping a 6 metre, 800kg+ african animal on the photocopy is probably not great for the machine.
The creation of this – unfinished – piece, is also part of my work / life balance. Someone asked me if I had a new year’s resolution and I said no. Upon reflection I realise it is probably to have a little more ‘painting’ time. I have even tried to take my art to Andrew’s place and do some there. I’m not sure if this will be a successful strategy as I tend to be a very messy artist, unlike Andrew who seems to paint in a contained fashion. Personally I don’t understand this. Perhaps it is because he only uses paint and drawing materials (charcoal, pencil etc). He doesn’t tear up papers, transfer images (which results in paper splinters all over the art surface) or work at quite the same ‘everything in my way is collateral’ pace. Then again, only a bad workman blames his tools. I make a mess when I cook; when I work; when I do anything actually. I am just a messy person. I seem to become so absorbed in what I’m doing that I develop a tunnel vision. It’s not until later when I turn my head that I see the trail of destruction I’ve left. Sometimes the ‘turning of my head’ can take days, or weeks.
As for the meaning of this art piece? I have no idea. Its had quite an evolution. This must be the third incarnation of this piece. Instinct said, ‘I want a giraffe.’ Discovering that all giraffes from my stash had already been used, I tried to consider other animals but none would do. A giraffe was my first thought, a giraffe was what it had to be. I know this piece isn’t finished. I’m just waiting on instinct to tell me the next move.
In 2014, I’m returning to painting small. A3 or smaller to be precise. This latest piece has evolved over the past week or so. I have no idea what the device is in the hand in the top right corner… I thought perhaps it was a starter’s pistol but Andrew tells me it is not. Anyone know?
I enjoy coming home after work to a cat cuddle following by a spot of painting. It’s a way to unwind and let my brain potter along in another zone for a while. If only painting resulted in weight loss… then it would be the perfect pastime.