Saturday 28 July 2018

Delicious Indigo Favourites

  Some of my favourites from recent indigo dyeing session.
 Above: sections  of  old quilts  remaining  from  being used in 'Eroding Margins' and 'Birchington Breakwaters' : pole wrapped and scrunched in net bag.

Eroding Margins 

Birchington Breakwaters ( detail) 

 A fairly ' new' acquisition which disintegrated  on washing : before ( above) and after ( below) dyeing. I love those  dark red original colours   revealed once the faded top layer is gone.  

  Below, another section  left longer in the vat - a step too far?

  French linen T towels:  'donut'  above, pole wrapped below ( I've got lots of variations of these!)

 Underwhelming ecodyeing improved with indigo!  ( 'donut' above, scrunched in net below)

Nasty bright yellow fabric tamed  with indigo ( before and after pole wrapping ) 

 The  'boro'  sections of old quilt I've been 'train stitching' on . Some of the layers of wool have not  dyed so well . Scrummy - these are the bits I'm going to work further into

Thursday 26 July 2018

Open House Faversham

Last weekend , once again I was stewarding for the Faversham Society's 'Open House'  scheme, this  year  at the Ship Hotel   in the Market Place.   It's greatest days were in the late 18th and early 19th Century  as a coaching inn (  John Wesley and Charles Dickens stayed there) although it dates from c. 15th  century.    It  closed as a pub  in  the early  1990's after a serious fire   and the present owners have done a wonderful sympathetic modernisation of 2  apartments.   There were great views from  what would have been the meeting/ auction/ function room over the marketplace  ( above). 

 My main job  was to warn  visitors about the odd steps and uneven floor surfaces, particularly as they came up the stairs 

 After I'd finished I had more of a look around  -  at  what would have been the  courtyard and stables  behind  and the 'Mary Poppins'  view over the rooftops from the 2nd floor.

 After  a late lunch I  finally got to see the inside of TS  Hazard (  used by the sea cadets ) which is the oldest building in Faversham . The timber structure was amazing.

 After looking at a couple more properties ( and the Magna Carta! )  I finished off at the Old Pharmacy Courtyard  which I stewarded last year.  I still love all those wonky lines  and the feeling of walking  back into Shakespeare's time.

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Large Scale Sketchbook Week 8 and Conclusions.

It's nearly 4 weeks since the  final session of Large Scale Sketchbook  but with so much going on there hasn't been time to report  on it and record  my thoughts ( tho'  I made sure I wrote up  my notes  in my notebook straight away)  .  At the end of the session I brought my  the sketchbook home , which entailed a taxi from the station it was so heavy. Tomorrow, a couple of  artist friends are coming round to view it so I thought it was about time I wrote about it here!

After Week  7, I'd run out of ideas  about what I wanted to do with work based on the cast courts , mainly  because the subject matter itself didn't inspire.  The night before the final session  I had a brainwave ( or so I thought....) The lines of stairs and curves of the sculpture in contrast to the surrounding architecture  reminded me of the work  I'd done on shells a ( mussels and limpets) in the advanced painting course in  2016. 
 At the time , I concentrated on developing the mussel paintings  set in context of surroundings ( influenced by the work of Paul Nash)  and hadn't done much with the limpets.  I'd been influenced   by the 'Circle' exhibition at Margate Turner Contemporary  , particularly the pile of black discs by Edmund de Waal,  and had drawn and photographed   a stack of limpets , delicately balanced  and carried out  work in Photoshop  combining it with prints of the Fleet  done during   a printmaking course

I gave Tony a whole lot of photos of my sketches/photos to photocopy to A3 size  and while I was waiting,  starting several pages  in,  I assembled a pile of limpets  and drew it large scale  using charcoal  ( which gave interesting marks on the previous page).  I then carried out a number of different approaches using photocopies; graphite and rubber; sanguine pen; coloured pencils;  and cutting out holes through several layers. 

 I was enjoying   applying what  I'd learnt  to new material but a lot  of what I produced wasn't really working.  Luckily at that point it was my turn to discuss my work with Tony.  He was a bit  surprised I'd discontinued with what I was doing in previous weeks when it had been going so well  while applauding the idea of using my own material to try out  what I'd learnt from earlier lessons ( "the Ideal Student" !) . 

The main reason the shells weren't working  as well was because they were on the whole  central on the page and retaining identifiable structure of existing images  and therefore weren't so exciting.  The danger with using material we care about  is that you have to work harder as not so inclined to experiment  or try things out . 

Looking back  at the earlier weeks when we'd been working with still life  with random objects
 and to some extent the Cast Courts  where it wouldn't have been my first choice of subject , I was more prepared to experiment, fragment images, as I was  looking at the shapes and lines  rather than the subject matter.  Looking with  Tony at previous  pages ,  the most exciting  were when I'd left a lot of space , repeated ideas over several pages ( copies of copies of copies)  and made good use of the edge of pages rather than placing images centrally. 

He made suggestions on extending marks over drawings and copies  ( including  use of the negative shapes left when cutting out)   and putting objects at the edge of the page.  Also to be even more radical  with my cutting, removing items completely.  

 This was more like it ! 

My final intervention  was to go back to the last spread from the cast courts  and cut out the fine lines of the stairs , and extend the line with graphite.  With the negative shapes from around the limpet stack pasted  in , there  was now a link between the  two areas of subject matter.

We  cleared up early  in order to look at everyone' s sketchbook  briefly ( although it still took an extra hour - I missed my train and had to get a later one) . Well worth it though - they were so diverse in approach and content considering we'd all  begun with the same  subject material!
Didn't  make notes at the time but these stuck in my mind:
- finely folded/pleated  paper ( like tiny steps)
- transparent fabric inserts ( also tracing paper and acetate)
- exploded shapes reassembled, photocopies cut into strips and expanded
- images torn up and collaged back ( in some cases just a few tiny pieces)
- layers  of subtle colour  under cutouts
-  images wrapped around edge of page ( so just see a glimpse)
- foldouts
- extreme cutting ( a fine lace-like network).

 I also have a list  of what I like in my own sketchbook  and ideas for future work.
Finally,  as is usual on City Lit courses, there were suggestions about what courses we might want to do next ( printmaking from the images produced  was one).
In my case , I'd  enrolled and paid for Extended Drawing for Artists  and Makers (EDAM)  that morning.   So a year  of experimenting  lies ahead!  

Indigo Dyeing In Deal

Its been 4 years since I did any indigo dyeing   and  without an outside drain in the garden  at our new house , I wasn't sure when I'd get the opportunity to do it again.  So when Glenys from CQ  Kent group  offered to host  an indigo session at her house in Deal while her husband was  away  for a week, I invited myself to stay for a night so we could have 2 days playing  and invited  other group members to join us!  

 The previous  week Glenys picked up all the kit I had stored in our garage ,  I had some new pipes cut  for pole wrapping (which Ian  gamely carried home!)  and I hurriedly put together a requirements list and suggestions  for  what to make in advance including  presewn 'socks' .  

  Glenys met me at the station on the first day   and  we spent the morning setting up  the vats ( with some recalculations required as the markings on the measuring jug weren't easy to read   and I made up   my large blue vessel with too weak a solution!) .  Glenys's facilities  are excellent - a large garage with sinks with hot and cold water  and a large gravelled area  for setting up drying racks. 

After lunch,   Jan, Barbara and Stella arrived and were soon busy in the sun  preparing samples.   It all got rather exciting  as we put  items into  warm  water to soak and then  dunked them carefully in the vats ( poles in the large blue vessel, smaller items in the bucket.) It was lovely to introduce indigo novices to the magic of seeing fabrics turn from yellow to green to blue as they oxidised.  It's a quick process compared to procion dyeing  so we soon had rackfuls of beautiful  cloth to admire. 

With a break for afternoon tea and cake in the shade of a large tree ( it was very hot)  we continued  dyeing until about 5 when were  exhausted   and  J, B and S went   home with their treasures to rinse and wash. After covering over the vats with cling film  and  getting cleaned up ,  Glenys and I went   down to the shore to the  Royal Hotel  for  a well deserved dinner and glass of wine.  

 The next day  was  grey and  overcast ( a big contrast to the  strong sun the day before)  , even some light rain at times, so Glenys and I retreated to the garage.  After ' sharpening' the vats with more hydros ( and transferring  some of the contents of my tall blue vessel into  a bucket ) we spent most of the morning preparing items  for dyeing, including trying some different techniques  there hadn't been time for the day before ( 'donut's' and wrapping around ridged hosing) .  I concentrated on 'scrunching' bits of old quilt in net bags secured with  clips. We then had combined morning coffee and lunch  before the dipping began.   The dye was definately beginning to weaken towards the end of the afternoon - time to pack up

Parcels  waiting to oxidise. 

Glenys unwrapping 

Clearing  and  packing up took a while  and then Glenys took me and the kit home and as it was raining (!)  I set up my wet items on the  balcony airer in  my garage  ( no sinks here, it doesn't even have any light) which left nice marks on the concrete! The following day I  set up the airer in the garden to dry properly . 

On Monday the grand rinsing and  washing session began! We might not have an outside drain but we do have a tap  and I set up the 'painting easel  chairs'  with large trugs for rinsing , the water going on the garden afterwards. Rinsing in cold water is usually my least preferred  part of the process but it was surprisingly enjoyable given the  heat! 
I split my dyed fabric into 2 loads for rinsing and washing ( pole wrapped  and French tea towels above, old  quilts  below)

  I'll share my favourites  in another post   but I was generally very happy with the results and  thanks to Glenys  we had a very enjoyable  and productive session.