more lightfastness notes

Made in 2013, “The Difference Between A Plum” has travelled a lot of places, without due care as to light conditions. It’s been in well lit galleries, dim areas, fluorescent light, daylight and gawdz knows where else as it made the rounds to various shows. While it’s hard to “match” photos for colour truth, i think these are both very true to the colour it was when made, and the colour it is now.

Iron was integral here as a mordant. Iron deepens and “saddens” colours, can shift to deep purples, blues, garnet, greens, greys and browns, depending on the dye used. (In this case, brazilwood.) It can weaken fibres as well, if the concentration (know as WOF, or weight of fibre ratio to mordant/dye) is too high. I’m pleased to say the fabric still seems quite strong, despite the heavier rust concentrations, though of course, i’m not swinging from the chandelier to test the fact πŸ™‚

Brazilwood is NOT a good dye for lightfastness, though it holds up well to wash fast tests. (Great, you can only wear it in the dark, and wash it in dim light….) BUT surprisingly, this piece is not that different from when i made it six years ago.

Left, the original photo taken in 2013, right the photo taken today:

brazilwood lightfastness after 6 years

detail of “The Difference Between a Plum” 2013, 6 years later

It is noticeable, and yes, 6 years is not that long, BUT i’m still quite happy about the effect time has had on it.

I definitely wouldn’t advise this for clothing that would be worn a lot, or an art piece in a very bright room, but as an artpiece, the evolving colour change is interesting. I wonder how much lighter it will be in another 6 years, or is there a point where residual colour stays?

 

 

in a nutshell

So, what do you do with something you’ve stared at for 2+ years, and then cut up?

Throw it in a dyepot. Because if it’s no longer “precious”, you might as well go the full “wtf, why not?” route.

With natural dyes, it’s predictable that if there’s already iron present on the fabric, it’s going to darken and sadden colours. However, with the unmeasurable concentrations of iron used in rusting cloth, there’s no predictability about the shade or depth. Add to the stew, the fact that these pieces were already lined with cotton flannellette, my favourite stabilizer and crunchtexture “additive”, the dyes uptake was even more capricious. And note too: i did not premordant other than using the iron already on the cloth–if i had thought a bit longer, i could have might have done an alum acetate soak to see if the colours grabbed more, but it’s not a big whoopee bad because i didn’t.

I had thrown the figure itself in an osage bath, and was not happy with the resultant boring tan she became. Admittedly, the osage bath was on its last legs, having been used multiple times, but wow, there was a lot more iron on her than i had suspected. After the fabric had been made during the residency, i immediately washed it in hot water and some synthrapol and baking soda, as i do all of my rusted fabrics, removing stray particles, but this really shows how much the rust/iron had penetrated. Invisible to the eye, but not to chemistry! There are many arguments about how to actually “neutralize” the rust, by many different camps of dyers, but this has been the one that works best for me. AND NO, SALT DOES NOT WORK: does your car STOP rusting in the winter when you get road salt on it????? I dunno where that logic came from….idjits.

So i threw her in a pot of madder and sandalwood (using up two old dyebaths). I’ll have to work around the stocking appearance of her from the thigh down though! The other chunks were also cooked in the madder/sandalwood: the largest piece had been randomly and quickly dipped into indigo first, with the hope i’d get some purples. The wings apparently had the most iron on them, but i really like the effect it had on the madder, strong. NOW she’s singing!

Here’s the comparison, before and after:

Fortuitously, the indigo features centred and right above her head, a serendipitous effect.

While these are not the best examples of these dyes, and certainly not the best way to do things (no premordants other than the residual iron), i’m actually quite pleased with the results. She looks muddier, dirty, earthy, but given that Fall is all those things, and that her name is “Samara”, implying dried seeds, leaves changing and falling, the end of Summer and the return to the earth, that is more important, and actually there are some “pretty” areas.

Sometimes “wtf, why not?” is worth the effort.

When i see my thread choices (also naturally dyed) with her, i think the results will be perfect.

Now………..i have to figure out how to use those threads appropriately for this. As beautiful as the dimunitive leaves and flowers have been on the recent moons, those tiny motifs are not going to cut it for this. I need stronger, scaled up structures/objects/designs. Perhaps it’s time to resurrect the FrankenStitch approach.

bravely, eyes squeezed wide shut

Samara has been stalled for a long while. The fabric was created in a residency in 2016, has had a wee bit of stitching on the body, and a hell of a lot of staring at on the design wall.

Every once in awhile i’ve trotted her out on the blog, wondering what i’m going to do with her and how. *I’m* tired of her as she is, so i imagine you’re pretty bored by now too πŸ™‚

I know i probably had some grand vision when i first laid her out at ACAD, and at that time it was enough to be able to deliberately create a design like this with natural processes. I do love her, but for reasons unknown, she just hasn’t fired up my imagination enough to do any more to.Β  I’ve started feathers of various sorts for her wings, pulled naturally dyed threads, fussy cut naturally dyed fabrics for some areas, but nope, no feeling of commitment.

Time for extreme measures then.

Well, at least if i *still* don’t do anything with her, she’ll be easier to store………………………………..

 

 

Great White Whales

(I actually wrote this post at the *beginning* of 2017, never published it, and for the most part, did nothing with the piece i’m talking about…)

Jan 23/17: January means re-organizing, prioritizing in my stoodio. I dig through drawers and boxes, sorting, knowing some things will never be finished, but unable to part with them, making new stacks of “possibles”, and a bit of clenchedteethtossing of a few, VERY FEW, pieces. I get fired up by beads, miniscule scraplets of cloth, short ends of thread, and serendipitous colour combinations when things fall on each other.

And then, i find

The Great White Whale.

This whale takes up a lot of space, literally and figuratively. Once in awhile, the currents of present day sweep it back under the waters, and it sinks, sulking at the bottom of my subconscious for months, and then when i least expect, it breaches loudly, and sings, briefly, but oh so emphatically. I *know* i had the right idea when i first conceived it, but, but, but, BUT.

β€œLet faith oust fact; let fancy oust memory; I look deep down and do believe.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Jan 1/18:

Is it any wonder i can get nothing done, feel no gumption, have no inspiration? Piles and messes like this used to really inspire me; now i just walk away from it, overwhelmed, disgusted, bored, frustrated. There are cupboards and bins not visible, full of fabrics slated for projects, and a lot OF projects in progress/notprogress. I’ll spare you those. Time AGAIN to re-organize, declutter, throw out.

In particular, the Great White Whale has been packed away since April 2014, with maybe a 10th of the expanse worked. It was overly ambitious, daunting, heavy in my lap and on my mind. I even had a separate blog for it, now private as i couldn’t bear to see it myself, never mind anyone else…. (I *might* re-open it, depending on depending on…)

Original cloth, 48×72″, made during 2012 residency:

I’ve worked on only maybe a 1oth of the area (not that the area is finished…).

That photo does no justice either to what i *have* done.

Everything on it got away from me. I *didn’t* believe in it anymore. Too many ideas and interpretations, i had intended it to be a record of sorts of my practice and evolution, but it’s just a damn sampler now.

Scissors, we will have scissors.

It never had to be ONE piece of cloth. I’m going to be cutting to cut, re-arrange, overlap, make deliberate spaces, maybe even holes, patches, whatever. Because i also see the photos like this:

and fall in love again.

 

Listings soon in the Shop!

As i have mentioned before, FybreSpace no longer exists on BigCartel, but you can buy here. Please do sign up for email notifications of new posts, if you will.

All of these have been washed and pressed, are cotton, and having been stored for almost a year, are nicely cured. Each listing will have its own post, as Blogger and Paypal fight otherwise. I will be listing through this week, and will publish all when ready to go.

The possibilities with these fabrics are infinite. Don’t be afraid to cut up, cut holes, slash, machine stitch, hand stitch, applique or piece into other works. It’s fabric after all, and while i view them as semi-precious, they can be treated as any other fabric!

 

hexes rising

indigo-hexes-jan-24A few years ago in a Yoshiko Wada workshop, i fortuitously dipped two previously ecoprinted hunks of silk in a henna based indigo pot. In the ensuing years i’ve often dug them out and admired the greeny blue that resulted, though often thought the mud colour induced by chemical reaction over the ecoprints was well, too muddy. Sometimes i’ve wondered about just tossing them or giving them away.

Whew, i didn’t. You never know what will be Useful and Beautiful and Perfect, if you throw it out. The earthiness now of those colours are what was called for in secret by this piece. I listened.

My biggest challenge with this though, is finding a UBP slab of true madder.

 

I’ve been tuning into certain words and phrases now as i stitch in the evenings, hearing from the strangest sources quotes about memory. A cheesy B movie yielded up β€œWe survive by remembering, but sometimes we survive by forgetting,” and a Cicero quote from an episode of Criminal Minds β€œβ€œThe life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” Proves one never knows what might be relevant or inspiring, and from the oddest “sources”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

are you experienced?

jan-12-bAs i work with this large expanse, i’m better appreciating the nuances of colour created by chemical reactions between rust, potassium permanganate and brazilwood. Pinks, purples, teeny bits of blue and charcoal, russets and washed out reds. Amazing how that works, and really wondering how i managed to get such clean whites too!

jan-12

These long lines of seeded backstitch, paths, divisions, separations, they appeal to the memory and sense, for otherness, unpredictable, centering, old consciousness. I’m struggling to express this in words, but words are an important part of this project as well. I’ve been writing a lot of free association exercises on my work blog, and will be condensing them down to make clear what it is i’m making, sharing, experiencing. I think of everything from Jimi Hendrix, to memories of childhood, passed friends and washed away river banks.

 

appreciating what you already have

When i created these fabrics during the 2016 Contextural summer residency, i knew i liked them but stashed them away as for use in a Someday project, thinking they would probably just be cut up, and incorporated into other projects.

They are beautiful. They can stand on their own. I hadn’t really really Looked at them. The softness of the colours, the strong yet delicate markings of rust, the motifs that occurred during the process are perfect for a background, while having enough interest to accent in some areas as i move through this piece.

background-1-scale

I didn’t want a seam down the middle, so i tore one chunk in half and attached it to either side of the main fabric. This is going to be a large work, as you can see by the yardstick left in there for scale πŸ™‚ (I’ll have to have an appropriately sized stretcher bar set custom built, as i haven’t this size in the stoodio!) The seams aren’t terribly obvious, because of the similar colourings and process, but they are there enough that i wanted to segue them into each other. Immediately, i knew i wanted to use my technique of melding the fabrics into each other with a multitude of seeded back stitch. (I used that technique a lot on “Ebb and Flow” from 2014, on the indigo pieces.)

background-1-stitch-detail-1

On New Year’s Eve, i watched part of “Expendables” and then all of “Expendables 2” (i deliberately choose “Cheesy B”Β  horror or action films to keep my mind and fingers activated, but not concentrating on the tubage.) and in the space of three hours, managed a section of 12×2″. These seams are 46″ long so i need to update my watch list!!! HA! “You WILL be a-seam-alated!” (I think i’m SO funny….) (Edit: as this post goes live, i have another 13×2″ done—yeah!)

So far, only two variegated colourways have been used there, but a third will pop in as well. One i am going to run out of, hopefully not until the seams are done, because it’s just not available anymore! The other two can be ordered again, and hoofies crossed that the batches aren’t so different as to be noticeable to anyone but Moi. Below, though the differences are not terribly apparent–which is kind of the point of blending—-i’ve used a silk in the centre, edged with a Caron Wildflower Sticks and Stones. Those edges will be edged into also with another Caron Wildflower “Pebbles”.

stitch-detail-1Unintentionally, that “strip” echoes the squiggly lines of dye and rust. The subconscious mind at work i suppose, because watching cars blowing up and manly posturing with bazookas sure didn’t influence it.

On the fun side of things, i pulled this out and have started playing with it. A riff on the original Beautiful Bones from 2009, and conceived in 2010, it’s mindless and silly, and an enjoyable change from Serious Art!

thebonesdecorated1

denbonesonbase1

bb-start-2016

finding the meaning in no meaning

I should keep my big mouth shut. Realistically, there is not enough time for me to create an entirely new piece for an exhibit that starts in 23 days, at least not with what i want to do to it….. Plans are wonderful, necessary to keep going and growing, but i don’t need to make myself any crazier than i already am, and decidedly do not need to frustrate my need to make with rushing and forcefulness. On that note too, what the hell is “concept” but construct?

So back to maybe not square one, but square 37? πŸ™‚

Some of the ideas i had for the piece mentioned in the last post are valid for this, so i picked it up again last night, whacked a few more stitchings in, and can see where it’s going now.

se 1 poss

Still means a lot of work has to be done, but just keep going. I created the faces during residency for a reason. Read any trope or import into that.