Friday 1 November 2013

Human Marks

Back from a few days in Puglia, Italy on textile course with Dorothy Caldwell at Masseria della Zingera - everything I'd hoped for and more. The ink on my fingers has just  about gone....
The first day explored making marks on paper  with ink  from fingerprints to different styles of pen to (my favourite) attaching brushes/sponges to broomsticks and working on large pieces of paper  out in the olive groves. 

Then there was hammering nails through layers of paper to pick up marks from graphite, burning holes with incense sticks and smoke marks from candles . These I wasn't initially struck by ( got a hole burnt in my pinny) but they grew on me when combined with other pages. I was exhausted, especially after all that hammering so it was just as well that the second day was spent stitching

We worked on our kantha pieces over several days, often stitching while listening to talks and in my case over first coffee of the morning in our luxurious apartment listening to the birds tweeting in the trees. We'd been asked to bring a piece of cloth 4 x 36 inches and I spent ages choosing it only to find it  was for  a blind fold while blind stitching! Well at least it matched my shirt! This was an interesting exercise and I made several rubbings of my finished piece using colour catchers , a bit like my 'daily art' earlier in the year.
Sunday morning we went to the seaside, to Polignano a Mare with it's strange limestone rock formations. Only an hour to do a few sketches and collect 100 objects (in my case mussel shells) certainly focuses the mind.

Then in the afternoon doing batik with tjantings and home made print blocks on black fabric which we then discharged with bleach. Got some nice marks and soy wax was a revelation after previous experience with paraffin/beeswax but  in terms of what I was drawing, could have used black ink directly on pale cloth.
The fourth day was spent learning book binding techniques- concertina structure for our large ink sheets and sewing signatures from our paper 'drop sheet' which had collected incidental marks from all the processes.  Then  the remaining time was spent compiling a book from the work we'd produced, selectingpages that 'talked' to each other. it still needs some more stitching and work to unite different sections and I'm halfway through needle weaving the spine but I'm pleased with what I produced.

The setting was peaceful (apart from the guns firing on Sat and Sun mornings ), the company congenial and the home-cooked food delicious: risotto with courgette flowers; stuffed squashes, herby rabbit stew; persimmons for breakfast. Most of all , Dorothy was an inspiring, generous teacher,especially when describing how she goes about intrepreting her surroundings.  Lots to think about , how to apply what I've learnt , to allow things to happen, to consider the combinations of direction, concentration and size of mark/stitch.


Margaret Cooter said...

Ah, that brings back happy memories of the wonderful workshop with Dorothy at Festival of Quilts in 2008. The setting wasn't quite as salubrious though - no olive groves, no seashore ... and no risotto with courgette flowers!

Julie said...

Sounds an inspiring course with a great teacher. I always think a workshop has been successful when you come away bursting with ideas and keen to take things further. Your post is a good advert for Dorothy's teaching.

Felicity said...

oh,that looks amazing! What a wonderful course.