THREE days (including today) left for SALE in shop. ENDS June 17/21.
As mentioned in a previous post, i decided this year to participate for the second time with a local collective, Contextural Fibre Arts Co-operative. I did reasonably well the first time i joined in (2012) with ONE week to get stuff together! (I used the machine a lot then, and the majority of what i had was small very inexpensive textile art pins 🙂 ) This year i thought i was smart by signing up on the 11th of October for a Nov 21st date, but time got a wee bit lagged and dragged, and now i’m in the throes of panic *but* working the ol’ hoofies to the bone !
So, this year with the premise in mind that NO ONE is doing what i do, especially exclusively with natural dyes, here’s the various views of studio doings lately:
I have Organized Piles with Notes for slated work, fabrics picked out, some solid design sketches and some still in my head, labels, an inventory sheet, display ideas and display items, and am treating the whole as a Job. Yes, art can be a job, an enjoyable one, but the key IS discipline. Line it up, get her going then Go. Do.
I will have new work to show and sell, and promise the happy drool will be off my face (Well, the happy will still be, but i promise no drool.) ALL Covid protocols will be in place to keep you safe, from masks and sanitizing, to distancing and contact trace info, limited numbers allowed in and (unfortunately) only one day this time to see the vast array our group has to offer in the way of unique textile arts and crafts, from wearables to gifties to Art. If you are in Calgary, or its environs–hey Alberta!—please share and spread the word!
A long time ago, i used to play a lot in my studio. That usually resulted in 4 posts a day (!!!!!), because everything was exciting then: textile arts and mixed media were hot in the blog world, as we were all new to the internet and the windows it opened for creativity. There was MORE feedback then: people didn’t just “like” something and then flit to the next page. There were CONVERSATIONS, friendships made, active sharing and promoting of each other, and well, it just wasn’t facebook/instagram preciousness and staging.
I always enjoyed making Little Things, and at the time, it was part of a viable business as well. There were at least a hundred Yule Ghouls that flew out of my BC studio, innumerable really inexpensive wallets, the ubiquitous christmas stockings, penguin ornaments and artsy bags of all sizes. I stopped most of that when i moved to Edmonton in 2003: the market there was completely different, a lot less explorative, a dearth of innovation, and funky individuality was not cared for much…..it was crushing, as an artist and as a small business.
That coloured things for many years. I got rid of a lot of finished product simply by donating it to the Sally Ann, and once in awhile, even in such a large city, see one of the very creative bags i made, slung over someone’s shoulder. But i know they paid peanuts for it, thrift stores generally not in the biz of charging shitloadarmandleg prices, and so won’t make them again AS part of the bread and butter part of my studio. I also didn’t see the sense of having PILES and BOXES full of Things that wouldn’t see the light of day again.
BUT, i am involved with Contextural again, and there is a Christmas Sale, so let’s just think about that. Stocking up, protyping, testing, MAKING.
Anyways, blah blahdy blah. I made a pile yesterday of recent naturally dyed linens (my new favourite fabric):
I admit to just sitting and staring at it, inspired by the colours and the feel, but not sure where to go. Then i espied an unfinished project and what the heck. I gots lots of those 🙂 Combine!!!! I’m “Goin’ Minoan”, ha.
First project of the year, a little test for scale, motifs, use, this needle book is for me.
5×4″, indigo, madder, cochineal, tansy, osage, sandalwood, quebracho rojo, linen, cotton, silk, naturally dyed “*orts”, beads. I won’t show you the inside: apparently some 4 year old snuck into the studio and worked that part! 🙂
I had grand plans for this little work, thinking i could make multiples and offer them in my shop, enticing people with price and portability. HA! If i actually charged what that *should* be, no one would pay the price. A common problem many makers have, either inadvertently, or deliberately, is actually pricing the true value/worth an object has cost in terms of time, skill, design and materials, assembly, and in my case, the dyeing of cloth and threads, and hopefully a small markup for profit. This Thing took the same amount of time and work as one of my larger moon pieces! Would *you* buy a $100 needle book? Nope, me neither.
At least i know my new indigo vat is working though and i *did* cull some ideas for other work from the making and thinking time!
*Orts are the left over short ends of threads (or teeny weeny scraps of fabric) used in other projects.
These are why i believe natural dyes in textile arts are important to me and to others with this passion, no matter their “technique” or Practice. Ixchel Suarez had asked about this in a post on FB, in a natural dye group, about the importance of natural dyes to tapestry, *almost* intimating that it was the one use of the medium/material where it was so important, but i know there are other embroiderers, knitters, weavers of all the sorts, twiners, basket makers, rug hookers, book makers, fabric designers etc. who also use exclusively natural dyes. I can’t imagine using commercially dyed threads on anything now! There are nuances to natural colour that can never be replicated in synthetic dyes, and everything always “goes together”.
I know a lot of people can’t tell the difference between synthetic and natural dyes, just to look at them. I’m at a point though myself that when i look at photos of other natural dyers work, i can usually tell what dye they used, whether it’s tried and true historically accurate natural dyes, or “food waste” S**T. Really, i can. Really! There’s something warm and poetic about madder in all its antique hues, indigo and finding beauty in the palest to darkest, no “wrong” blue as a result, clear as the golds and leaf russets of osage, the aureate luminosity of rhubarb root (as prosaic as that one sounds…), the terra cotta nobility of cochineal and cutch, the royal richness of purples from lac, cochineal and logwood. SIGH.
I haven’t done any dyeing since before we moved to our new home, too much going on, too many other projects, but i’m starting to run out of threads especially. I’m planning for 2020 (i can’t believe that at all, that it’s going to BE 2020), and trying to figure out a schedule of sorts with flexibility for making the materials i use, and then making from/with *that* making 🙂 The best i can figure is to devote a week every 2 months (as needed, because surely i won’t have to do it EVERY month) to the dyeing, a week for paperwork, putzing and planning, and two for making. That still isn’t written in stone of course: part of this whole thing is the spontaneity generated by excitement, discovery, tangent, possibility!
I’m not making Grand Art right now (with the exception maybe of the patient Samara, and hopefully others like her), but i am making art that other people enjoy, and that *I* enjoy making. I see all these together and i get excited all over again, knowing that i, me did this from “scratch”–i may not have grown the sheep or cotton plant or moth cocoon, or woven or spun the cloth and thread, but i still “made” these fabrics and fibres, i coloured them and that’s pretty damn satisfying.
Would i be as rapturous if it was the “old days” and i was using commercially bought, commercially made, commercially dyed materials? Not sure, don’t care: i am where i am, and where i need to be now, now.
I also have in mind to if not REPLICATE, but to redux, remake, re-interpret a few older works in natural dyes:
Too, there are also old techniques i favoured, themes i loved, and mediums, and i’m testing some for the use of natural dyes in them. So many ideas! Piles, heaps, hills, masses, oodles and multitudes, stacks and torrents! Good thing it’s not 2020 yet 🙂
This past week i have said to hell with unpacking boxes, shuffling furniture around and organizing things in our new home. I finally got down into the studio and had fun!
Digging through the silk velvet scraps for the elf mentioned in a previous post, had me wondering what to do with all the dinky teeny itsy bits. If you love velvet and other luxe fabrics, you get that–no small left behind! 🙂 And when they’re naturally dyed, they are even more precious!
And yes, they DO come as PAIRS 🙂 Hmm, might be cute Christmas ornaments as well!
This weekend however, the two of us will be descending to the depths, and getting laundry appliances moved around, a laundry sink and water filter hooked up, tools settled into shelves, and the last of my studio stuff IN the studio, out of boxes, bags and piles. Once that is done, i plan on setting myself a schedule of sorts to get work done, the serious stuff (Samara, poor Samara!), and some more fun things as well.
My Mojo has been a Nogo for awhile. If you’re read previous posts lately, you’ll know why! I’ve diddled about with bits and pieces, but nothing really exciting, or terribly productive happened, small projects that will get done, but not honestly that i feel terribly interested in.
This morning i buckled down. I’ve wanted to do elves again for the last four years or so; i say “again” as they were a bread and butter item i made in the 90’s. All were very glitzy, and had green “skin”, so a late friend i miss still had dubbed them the “Yule Ghouls”. I made and sold probably 4 or 5 dozen of them, named Ruby, Amethyst, Sapphire, Emerald, etc etc etc all depending on the main shiny fabric i used (ha, i LOVED the glitz synthetics in those days) but alas along the way, i lost the original pattern. I have a few lousy photos of them, but they’re so lousy i won’t dig them out.
Of course, me being me, i thought i could immediately jump in and start pumping them out. No pattern though. Sooooooooooooo, brushing off basic skills again, i made a mockup in some cheap cotton, made some notes, adapted my pattern and started the first prototype.
It took 4 and a half hours from first pattern and the cotton test subject (right in photo below) to the first prototype (left). Still needs arms and legs, and the embellishments, but i’d say my Mojo is now a Gogo 🙂
He’s a little shy at the moment. “Mockup says my ears are too big, my nose looks like a squashed potato, and how am i going to get anywhere with no arms or legs?” (Note: snarky Mockup has only one of each so he can only go in circles, i guess.)
“He’s just jealous ’cause Mom loves me better, even if he was here first.”
Arms, legs and facial features are coming up next, beading, hand embroidery etc–though i will keep it simple. The velvets, silk and lace i used are of course naturally dyed with quebracho rojo, madder and sandalwood. I was fortunate too that late MIL had bags and bags of stuffing, gawdz knows why though as she did nothing “crafty”. Finished size will be approximately 15″ head to toe.
I have so many velvet scraps in different colours that i’m quite excited to give some personality to them!
Fine threads, thick threads, wool and cotton, it’s all becoming strands of delish.
I was hesitant for the longest time about the wool, as i figured it was too “fluffy’, but have now fallen in love with it. I experienced “not all about sweaters and warm slippers” after working with it 🙂 Depending on your tension as you stitch, it can be more raised, more taking acceptance of the loft, but you can also draw it slightly tighter and end up with finer lines, whereas medium tension will give a fuller appearance in stitches that fill more space. The wools i’ve been using are classified as lace weight, which means while they look downy, they are as easy to use as cotton. (But i do recommend shorter lengths, not the longer than fingertips to elbow *i* normally use!)
The cottons have been a joy also, as they are easier (for me at least) to get a variegated dye happening. From a weight that is like using 2 strands of conventional embroidery floss, to one that imitates a full 6 strands, the colour variations are wonderful.
I decided too that labelling them only needs the type of dye–i’m not about to add all the mordants and modifiers, as it could get rather wordy!–the length and the type of fibre. Some of these are also shorter lengths than i had intended, as i learn about tension on the niddynoddy as i wind the skeins, pre-everything! Prices will reflect that, but all are still worthy and long enough to be treasure. In the future, i intend 10 yard and 20 yard pieces, depending on the thread. (Most of these vary from 7-18 yards, though i erred on the side of caution: some may be slightly more than indicated, but none will be less. And the “20 yard” ones will be having their labels changed to reflect that they are more likely a generous 18!)
There are many more to wind still, and yes i kept some for myself, though none of the above, so it’s not a tease with any of them. 🙂 🙂 🙂 I still have indigo, potassium permanganate and a mix of the two to complete, so there will be those as well.
I’m still deciding on pricing and packaging, as with the cost of shipping, it’s probably better to sell these in sets of 2, 3 and/or 4. I want them to be something you can work with together, rather than just a “one off”. So far too, i am doing small lots, as i am only a one woman show, so you’ll have to bear with me for availability! Pricing *will* reflect the hand dyed/naturally dyed “point of the exercise”, but will also be more than fair for the amounts (and the work involved to do them!). I hope to add these to the shop on the weekend, October 30th the latest.