Sunday, 29 April 2012

Hammer Dyeing (and bonus dinner)

First take some beautiful ripe tomatoes, either home grown or from a neighbour and dunk them in boiling water for a few seconds. Remove the peels and keep them aside. Do not discard the now-naked tomatoes - they come in handy for the dinner bit later on. Place on damp fabric - I use PFD and whack it with a rolling pin or hammer  or a meat mallet - anything that will crush down the plant material and then seal in a plastic bag for some weeks. I store mine under the house and away from human contact - you just don't know what's going on in the bag while the dyeing process festers along. Lorraine Glessner does some really interesting things with fruits and seeds - and it was fascinating to see the different results produced on cotton, silk etc.  Once you are happy with the rolling pin / hammering process, cook down the tomatoes with onion and garlic and pepper - when it has reduced, combine with herbs, browned mince and slowly reduce to  a fantastic sauce to put with home made pasta sheets. Easy lasagne-  a great by-product of  dyeing in the kitchen.

Charles Dickens exhibition ... and Grip

While walking the streets of Philadelphia the public library had a rare books exhibition - many of the original works of Charles Dickens (and some of Beatrix Potter). Being early (pre lunch) there was not another soul in the place and it was an privilege to be able to have the entire exhibition and displays to oneself for an hour or two. I loved the sketches and drawings - not necessarily by Dickens - and was taken with Grip, the Raven and the gravestone of "Dick" who was deemed "the best of birds". Grip is said to be the inspiration for Edgar Allan Poe's "Raven".  Vincent Price does a fantastic reading on youtube - a good investment of 9 minutes. Just love it (advertisements across the bottom notwithstanding) and as one who peers long into the darkness, now fading with the dawn of Sunday, I'll take by soul within me burning off to make a cup of tea.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Unpacking treasures

While in Philadelphia I participated in a workshop by Lorraine Glessner was about mark-making. I learnt so much and took techniques and processes I'd used previously to new levels. Rusting was one such part - and here's a piece that has spent the past three weeks developing itself ... it was still wet when it arrived home with me yesterday. This is an "exchange piece" from one of the other students in the group - we all brought along bits of metal and found objects ... there will be many more pieces to emerge and accompany the rubbings I made on already rusted fabrics (using iron sulphate and tannins with Ankie before heading off to Philly) that also made it home. The first, with the backdrop of part of the USA side of Niagara and the second on a rather large pot of emerging tulips - made me think of Ankie and Linda. Shiva sticks perform quite differently in freezing temperatures - at times it felt like grating frozen butter - not to mention the absence of feeling in the fingers - however it was superb fun.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Snow storm and home

The end of a great trip (for me)  which overlapped with the start of  a work colleague's trip to Canada and Alaska - here we are being snowed on in Buffalo - the first snow I've ever seen falling from the sky - looked like someone had a nasty accident with a box of tissues and a blender - a gorgeous first time, bucket list experience. And now, some 35 hours later, I am home. Thanks to everyone who made the last month incredible, enjoyable and inspirational - hope to be in the studio as soon as tomorrow.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Niagara Falls and Nests

Am staying right on top of the falls - almost literally - and  have enjoyed the experience of frigid weather and hearing the moisture being sucked out of my cells in the dry windy conditions. It is spring and was a real challenge to find a beanie - they'd all been packed away at the end of winter. Am hoping the forecast snow in Buffalo overnight will hold off until I get airborne sometime tomorrow. Last night in Niagara and have walked miles - and seen much. While waiting for the funicular railway to take me up the hill, saw this little nest of activity, perfectly sheltered from the misty chill of the Falls, although nervously adjacent to where the carriages pull up, then down. She must have young underneath as she would not budge - not even for the railway cars. About to go and do some final rubbings before packing ...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Light plays and lobsters

Perhaps I am the last to notice - on dusk the sky becomes dark and the water becomes light - almost a reverse of a daylight photograph. Thank you Tom. This is the water off  Bailey Island, off or perhaps more accurately out from the coast of Maine and nearly two hours' drive from Madbury where our friends Susan and Tom live. We had a memorable night at the Cooks Lobster House and arrived back in Madbury NH around midnight.  Apart from the lobster, we were treated to a huge bowl of clams which were dipped into warm water in an attempt to rinse off the last of the sand / grit then dipped into a pot of melted butter before consumption. It took me a while to get the hang of it  and more than one clam got lost or tossed in the process. Thank you Susan and Tom for a night that will never be forgotten.

This is not a bookcase ... Salem

This actually is a bookcase in the entry to a bookshop in Salem. Seriously, would you walk past it?  This is no magic trick,  just book stacked on book after book after book ... and I wasn't going to be the one who squeezed by it - I could already hear the WMBM in my head saying something like "mmmm .... that went well ..." so a picture of said bookcase instead. I loved walking around Salem, claptrap souvenirs and plastic junk aside, the buildings are beautiful and I sometimes thought I was on a movie set rather than a real town - however some oil stains on the road confirmed this was a real place, with real people and real oil-leaking cars. Enjoyed a gorgeous yarn shop "seed stitch" where I was almost compelled to buy one of those french knitting gizmos where you wind and wind a handle (instead of looping over a nail) - had visions of landing in Brisbane later in the week after 30 hours of winding ... and decided not to take leave of my senses.  Now check out this found objects piece of footpath from back in Brattleborough  - embedded in the pavement were all sorts of wonderful things like pliers, cog wheels and giraffes.

Rachel Carson Refuge

Rachel Carson 's legacy is, in part, this refuge of second growth forest with tidal salt marshes that wend their way to the Atlantic ocean. It was a frigid afternoon - and I could hardly feel my fingers taking a rubbing from a memorial plaque in the park.  It is early spring and there is evidence of renewal after one of the mildest wineter's on record.  A beautiful place for quiet contemplation, even as the sound of waves crashing along the coastline came tumbling through the treeline.

Textiles in Vermont ... the Fat Hat Clothing Co.

A few of my favourite things in Vermont - included a great little shop Fat Hat Clothing Co - which was full of not only beautiful clothing, but gorgeous textiles ... and they sew nearly everything right in the shop. Nice to see things made and sold in the same cycle. A favourite was the solmate socks - which for the little people, come in a pair of "three" - for that one which will be lost, sooner or later.

The PEM and Salem

One of the most exciting exhibitions I visited was in Salem -  ShapeShifting  - which explores American Indian art in sometimes confronting ways. My personal experience of some of the installations was "great" we should be confronted by the impact of our actions, or inactions and the way that impacts on others, and in this exhibition, the impact expressed through art and creativity. The exhibition was organised under four themes - changing, knowing, locating and voicing. the first and last pieces of the exhibition are huge installations which can be walked through or under ... I found the parallels with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contemporary art unsurprising -  both vibrant and evolving.  ShapeShifting is curated by Karen Kramer Russell and continues to the end of March.  No photographs of the exhibition were permitted - and instead here are some other pics of works within the PEM. Well worth the trip to Salem for the PEM alone - forget the witches!  There is a large permanent collection and ongoing exhibition of Korean arts - including this beautiful bojagi (wrapping cloth). This piece was created by Gyeongsuk Son and provided to the PEM by the National Folk Museum of Korea. the PEM also has a rather large program for the young and young at heart - while we were visiting, hundreds of kids were mark making on denim - it was fabulous to see the energy and glee being invested in the mini-textile art pieces.

State of Being

Walking through the forest at Quechee Gorge in Vermont I stumbled over a survey marker  from 1972. What a good rubbing that would have made ..... then in the midst of the path, a tree with bark that was so like a painting from the impressionists ... and I will always remember Vermont for the clear, sweet pine air that permeates every fibre of one's being.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Delectable Mountain Cloth - Vermont

Spent a few hours in Delectable Mountain Cloth in a Brattleborough, Vermont. The shop is filled with silks, exquisite cloths, buttons and many different accessories - all under one cramped roof and creating a visual overload of sumptuousness.  This is also a place of lace, brocade and all things romantic and beautiful - especially for something as special as the ring-bearer's pillow which needs to be finished in ... less than three weeks!