Tag Archives: blue

Dyed Together — Sea Island Indigo, Day II

IMG_0826The thing I really loved about the second full day of the Sea Island Indigo Workshop* was how dyeing united us. Sounds philosophical, and maybe it is, but I simply mean this: the love of blue made us kin.

Leigh and Sarah

Leigh and Sarah — coated, flexible copper was to keep yarn skeins from tangling

On Thursday– we were parents or not, retired or not, local or not, from the North or the South, staying in the city or elsewhere, but by Saturday — IT WAS ALL ABOUT INDIGO. What are you dipping? How did you do that? Let me see! Batman?!  Honestly, that’s pure genius! Ooooh!

Meghan's son lucked out -- look at that Batman!!

Meghan’s son lucked out — look at that Batman!!

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Sarah successfully dyed wooden buttons

If on Friday, we were felters, weavers, quiltmakers, spinners, storytellers, or fashion designers, by Saturday — we were all JUST INTO INDIGO. The enthusiastic focus that three large vats created was wonderful. It was binding. And the results were nothing short of spectacular.
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doilies, grosgrain ribbon, commercial cotton: mine

doilies, grosgrain ribbon, commercial cotton: mine

IMG_0815 IMG_0816 IMG_0842 IMG_0860It was hard to take pictures. What?!! Pause and lose out on another dunk? How could you? Gloves on/off, hands dried — when you could be twisting a cloth, eagerly dreaming of ghostly stripes or submerging that thrift store shirt?!  And, it was one thing to get faces, sleeves, and shoes blue, but cameras and phones?  Not so good.
IMG_0898 IMG_0900  IMG_0907There were beautiful kimono scraps, woven shawls, and skeins of wool for sale, and even though I ran out of material at some point, I resisted. Do I get extra points for that?
IMG_0809Speaking of getting blue on everything, take a look at Heather, above, and Julie, below.
IMG_0767Margo dyed her hair.Margo (with blue) and BarbaraAnd, I was told I looked like I’d been ‘kissed by a Smurf’! PICTURE TO COME. Kathy Hattori sent me 1/2 dozen yesterday and you all should see at least one, but I want to post this today and though I could easily download pix to ‘dropbox’ I haven’t figure out how to get one to show up here.  You will have to wait!

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Batman creator, Meghan

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I almost fell in a vat when Sage told me she was an Applied Physics major at Stanford – I guess SOME differences still popped!

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Kathy & Ximena conversed in Spanish all w’end. Ximena grows mangoes in Columbia.

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my fave, as you know. it faded A LOT at home (boo!).  Donna Hardy on left.

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Using strips of muslin, linen, and vintage table cloth for ties means you have those at the end, too

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how did she stay so tidy?!!

IMG_0839 IMG_0848 IMG_0871 IMG_5417 IMG_5427We learned Michel Garcia’s 1-2-3 method on Saturday as well — which Glennis Dolce had gone over back in 2012 during her online Indigo Dyeing class, but I didn’t get around to it then.  Maybe soon?
IMG_0753 IMG_0755I didn’t envy Kathy trying to get our attention on Saturday!
IMG_0752The food was so unbelievable that night that it deserves its own post.  Suffice it to say, that the aromas of roasting pig and Carolina Hash were mouth watering by mid-day Saturday!

hash in progress

hash in progress

  *  *  *

Sea Island Indigo Workshop took place September 18-21, 2014 in Charleston, SC.  A field of indigo was grown for us by Donna Hardy, on Rebellion Farm, in Ravenel, SC.  Fiber artist Kathy Hattori, of Botanical Workshops, flew in from Seattle to co-lead the two days of hands-on indigo dyeing.  My participation in the workshop was funded by a kickstarter campaign.

Blue Valentine

first iteration

first iteration

As promised, here is the visual record of ‘Blue Valentine’. I’m still calling it a valentine even though over the course of its making it became a family portrait — including a memorializing (of a sort) of Jack’s passing. First post was here.

Morning light

Morning light reveals quilting

I brought the small quilt on our recent camping trip, and when I wasn’t reading, “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen, I was stitching in and around hearts. Recall, the guys were gone for two days on a hiking adventure up Mt. Washington.

Amonoosuc Trail Head

Ammonoosuc Trail Head

reading companion

reading companion and the best book I’ve read yet this year (and I have read some really good books!!)

building-background

made heart blue; added red threads; birds did not make it; used one of the many woven strip rectangles I have lying around; appliqued pieced scraps or just scraps

further-back

added lots of quilting; once windows extended to the right, I saw a roof in the red; dog stitched/ripped out; couched baker’s twine around big heart; covered red ‘extension’ threads; where some fabric intersections were unruly, let myself apply whip stitch heavily

other half of roof, windows gaining definition

added blue X’s (kisses) on disintegrating dog shape; filled out roof and filled in windows

cloth-dog

gave dog form again — for a while

added window to heart

added window to heart

'matching' roof on left, giving heart 'wings', MORE windows

created ‘matching’ roof on left (which gave large heart appearance of having wings); added MORE windows; red ‘base’ to structure is distorted blanket stitch atop chain stitch

more windows

added more windows; scraped away some of the ecru silk to reveal red ribbing — getting to idea of revealing scars or wounds, or merely showing underlying structure

changed from Valentine to Family Portrait

added two more small hearts so that there is one for each of us (including Jack) — changing piece from Valentine to Family Portrait. I like the downward dip of the lower edge. Bamboo skewer is a temporary hanger

This Morning Glory showed up the day Jack declined and has been blooming every morning since he died. It’s one of those reseeds that come and surprise and re-instill a sense of the glory and power of nature.  Because of the timing, I can’t help but consider it a tribute to our Jack.

beauty in the 'burbs

beauty in the ‘burbs – five-pronged star is sacred to the Goddess, by the way

heart exclaiming

Three days ago, the ‘exclaiming’ heart (below, right) seemed to me a little bit cartoonish, funny, just this side of ironic. . . reminding me of Lynda Barry‘s work somehow (if even a little).

heart-exclaiming

heart exclaiming

Today, it looks stunned. Vulnerable. And we are, with news that Jack has lymphoma. Either Stage III or IV. There is so much to say about it, and him, but I am at the tail end of a day that featured one thing after another, just about every hour and a half (most of it good) and the pull toward either my book (DeLillo’s “Libra”) or ‘the crap out zone’ (TV and a snack) is too strong.

I’ll leave you with two images — the first of one of the amazing catalpa trees towering in our yard. This time of year, the orchid-like blossoms tumble down the roof of our garage and litter the walk and plants below. Until they turn start to stink in rotting piles of brown, I feel like royalty… walking the petal-strewn path!

Catalpa blooming

Catalpa blooming

And, one of the places I like to sit and read.

one place I like to read

perfect height off the floor!

perspective – not necessary, but good!

house-before-roof-and-side-fix

straight base translates as flat; roof line doesn’t match up with house

This white house emerged months ago as I pieced up muslin for what would become the “Red House”. I was immersed in barn raising at the time.

sideways

pin board

house-and-chair

roofline better; perspective created with a single strip of blue floral slanting up from front corner to back corner

Two different green plaids are used in the roof. I think another piece is required to overhang that right rear facade.

real rooflines

real rooflines – earlier in season, many years ago

There are flash flood warnings here.  My phone actually honked to tell me so. Based on the rain and wind, I would not have guessed there to be any danger (and maybe there isn’t).

Speaking of phones, when I took my failing-to-connect-to-the-internet iPhone to the Genius Bar, everything operated just perfectly. The ‘genius’ took notes (on his tablet, naturally), but I could tell he thought I was a technology-challenged moron (and maybe I am). However, I came home and all the same problems reasserted themselves. And I don’t see how it could be an issue with our router, because everyone else in this household is connecting to the internet just fine.

As maddening as these tech issues have been — for weeks now (Photoshop crashed twice while posting yesterday — one time recovering; one time not) —  I really could use some perspective there as well.

What is the emotional equivalent of a blue strip of fabric lightly laid, just so, to make the line of the foundation travel back? What perspective would ease getting through a series of technology issues that show no sign of easy resolution and that undercut my ability to stay connected (and THERE’s the psychological metaphor for one of the mechanical failures — it’s always there).

“WALK AWAY FROM THE SCREEN, Dee” isn’t going to cut it for much longer. I should take Michelle’s comment from yesterday to heart: “Breathe”.

chugging along

blue-hut-startVacations (not mine), house cleaning, appointments, arranging college tours, two birthdays, SAT prep classes, allergic reactions (also not mine), snow, snow and more snow (and possibly MORE snow starting at midnight tonight).  Through it all, virtually no blogging, but a fair amount of stitching.

This b-day card for my younger son started with the central rectangle, which had been zig-zagged together at some much earlier moment.  The upholstery sample seemed a good base, picking up the check pattern of the ‘windowed’ linen.  For the roof and background, I used cloth that had been immersed in the indigo tub last summer.  Pairing almost anything with indigo-dyed cloth makes me happy these days, I don’t know why.   blue-hut-pinsSince D. is a Pisces, a bit of batiked fish seemed appropriate, and the cotton lawn in my scrap basket formed lovely, wrinkly moon and butterfly shapes when cut.  The pink linen backing is from a tunic that I used to wear.  This ‘card’ needed to carry a bit of me.

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I was determined to keep the butterfly simple.
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But, I could not resist adding ANOTHER backing cloth which adds a fair amount of additional graphic interest.
blue-hut-quilting

It is very nearly done – as are ‘cards’ for my older son (they were born two years, three days, and 15 minutes apart!) and for my husband (his is a Valentine).  More on those soon!!

Bird Woman: Power in Completion

In these quiet weeks, I am finding it hard to come back to the screen.  This screen, specifically.  Is it because the space where my knees sit is freezing cold?  (My hands are freezing right now, too) Or, because a pause midwinter makes sense from 1,000 perspectives? Or, maybe I have nothing to say (when has that stopped me before, you ask?!!).

An unexpected benefit to my neglect here, has been getting into a rhythm of finishing work.  Ironically, I had signed up to do a spring show and was DREADING the prospect of spending a season ONLY finishing things, but the moment I decided (for a host of reasons) NOT to participate, the finishing seemed to want to happen.   I have to ask myself:  WHY am I capitalizing words as if I am writing an article about the THRILL of orgasm for COSMO?!!  No.  Seriously, what is my deal about finishing?

Once Upon a Time, Bird Woman was born.  She emerged from scraps of embellished linen and pieces of a hideous 1970’s jacket, and some sequins that my cousin sent me at the time.  I put a small island of Victorian sequined black silk below her feet (that came from a friend for my birthday one year).  I made her wingtips look like flames, to make her a powerful bird.  I blanket stitched a full moon over one wing and she got even more powerful.  For her general environment, this creature was lucky enough to get one of the many woven cloths that I made during a Jude Hill class (it might be two combined, actually).  Then she went into hiding again.  I wondered where she was for awhile but I didn’t look for her.  She resurfaced, got some more stitching, then disappeared again.  I found her about two weeks ago, and now, apparently she is ready to be given a little more starry sky above her head, and some edges.

bird-woman-batting-cut

bird-woman-frayed-silk The blue silk  frayed like mad.  The NEXT time I used silk for a background, by the way, I ran a line of machine stitching along the side prone to giving off its threads.  The lost cloth here created a bit of a challenge – but not too bad.  Mostly, I was sorry to see so much of that Noxzema blue go.  After trimming the batting off, I auditioned backgrounds, with the idea that I would put the whole thing onto another cloth.
bird-four-backsI looked at these selections starting with upper left and going clockwise.  The purple velvet was nice, but I liked the burnt orange of my slippers (just visible on the frame’s edges) better.  The green and whites both fell completely flat.  But, orange?  Why, yes.  It makes the Bird Woman sing!  How can a single infusion of color do that?!!  But it does.  Orange makes Bird Woman sing!bird-woman-star-edgeHere you can see how I applied some tiny seed stitches and “X’s” to approximate stars.  bird-woman-stars-LThe upper edge slanted precipitously downward, and since I was loathe to lose anymore of that rich, blue silk, I tucked a kind of corny cotton printed with a night sky.  I will tuck something else on the left side to complete that edge.

This will be carefully stretched a bit before mounting onto its backing (which of course I had to piece because the orange swatch was not wide enough).   Stay tuned for the finished piece!!

What is your style of finishing a piece?  Do you run to it, with eager anticipation for the satisfaction of a job well-done? Or, do you resist? If you resist, how do you work with your resistance?

where the water goes

trees-in-the-water

Today’s On Point radio program (with Tom Ashbrook) focused on how the lowered volume of the Mississippi River is forcing businesses to find alternatives to river travel…how the federal government can’t sufficiently address the problem even on the micro-level of funding a study… how water might become the precious commodity that oil currently is (on this point, one caller queried, “why else would Ted Turner be buying up 1,000’s upon 1,000’s of river front properties!!?”).

This quilt is called “Long Island Blues” because it was pieced while waiting to hear how friends and family on Long Island fared in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Because the quilt is more about rising water levels than about the destructive winds and tides of these increasingly common giant storms,  the composition has a quietness to it.  There is nothing quiet about what is happening, of course.  We should, as a nation, be acting like those poor orcas trapped in the Hudson Bay, breathing out of a ridiculously small area of open water — arching, leaping, arching, leaping for air in pure panic.  Instead, we are still trying to fend off those who say climate change isn’t real?!  And still making excuses for the failure to SPEAK OF THE PROBLEM, because it is political poison?!

I can hardly think of a situation that could be more pervasively or profoundly demoralizing (oh yeah, which reminds me, I’ve committed to being more CHEERFUL in 2013).

My younger son had to write an essay about the ‘American Dream’ last week – what it is, how his relatives may have lived it, how he views the idea as it relates to him.

“… the American Dream is an illusion,” he started out.  “It may have existed at one time, but it doesn’t anymore.”

Remember when scientists (I’m talking pre-Rachel Carson, or her contemporaries) thought that technology and innovation could solve anything?   The generation of kids approaching adulthood are not afforded that optimism.

long-island-blues

“Long Island Blues” before stitching

Perhaps it is setting myself up for failure to ask that I become more cheerful.

Perhaps it would be more realistic to figure out how to bring my heart and soul to the problem of global warming in a whole new way this year (and mightn’t that make me feel better? maybe not more cheerful, but more engaged, more useful…)

… posting lamentations online hardly counts as anything;  making quilts of grief hardly counts as anything.

Have you made any commitments toward being less of a consumer this year?  If so, what?


P.S. “Long Island Blues” features antique linens that were gifted to me, linen and silk that I was allowed to take from the scrap pile of an upholsterer (some of which I dunked in my indigo bucket this summer), a skirt that I bought at the warehouse that receives goods after they don’t sell at Salvation Army, a repurposed piece of a Tibetan Prayer flag, a shirt from Supersavers that also went into the indigo vat, three small chunks of quilting cotton bought at a fabric store, and lastly one piece of blue and white linen bought in the Fashion District of NYC about eight years ago (I still have a little more left!!)