” O, to be in Blogland, now that April’s here…”

April 1, 2014

Dear Reader,

Finally, I feel settled enough in my new house and studio to blog! Let me begin with these words of blessing. (I am also substituting “blog” for “hous” ) Not sayin' that I haven't cursed a bit in the past few months but now I am speaking a blessing:

I found that page, loose in a book I picked up in a thrift shop. I have no idea who composed it or when but I like the sentiments.

What have I been up to since my last blog entry, many moons ago, you may enquire? Well, we moved house last November and a big change it has been.

For my December birthday, Husband made this birthday candle for me:

 

It took me many weeks to get over the pinched nerve and wrecked muscles in my Sword and Pen Arm and I still have to watch my posture a lot. The injury, studio still unpacked after our move last November and all kinds of reno meant that no art got done.

But I did manage to write a couple of articles, one about eco printing and another about the book arts, soon to be published if the editors do not change their minds…will keep you informed.

My studio, meantime, almost habitable:

 

This is one corner of the studio. The “Kandinsky” now on the wall turned up when I unpacked a few old boxes- done twenty years ago when I thought it would be instructive to copy my favourite painters. I got bored by the time the top right hand corner was to be filled in…I still think it is a good exercise to copy a painting from time to time to keep one's hand in. And keep one's ego where it belongs.

Husband has been finding it hard,too, not to have space to work at his art. But he did manage these industrial-vibe candlesticks:


 

My textiles and artist books returned safe and sound from Arte Studio Ginestrelle in Italy in January after the exhibition in Assisi (from which my heart has not yet returned). I gathered some of my artist's books together to pet them while waiting for my little artmaking place to be ready. I very much enjoyed our reunion:

 

This group shows the collection of botanical “scrolls” made in my last house and in the Subasio, in Assisi. The orange colours are rust, tea and coreopsis, the blues and greens are from iris and the blacks from iron with maple. These days, my chief interest is in printing and dyeing with regional native plants on papers and textiles.

This scroll below dyed with June blooms and leaves: iris, coreopsis and sumac mostly, with a few Prunus cistena:

 

This scroll was printed with dried coreopsis and tagetes. The stalks are used to make the spine of the book and are from the dried coreopsis.

 

Rusted paper making the accordion spine, with iron-dyed thread attaching pages inside the folds.

 

Another view of the scroll collection:

Looking over my old work helps me get back in the zone after I have been away for a long time. Blogging helps, too!

Though unable to work much in my own home, I have been able to take a few workshops. Here, I am using a photo I took of a favourite tree and transferring an abstract version of the design onto an aluminum plate using a Sharpie marker that acts as a resist to the etching fluid:

 

I made the aluminum plates in a non toxic studio set up using Akua inks.

 

This is the etched plate which I will print at home, results TBD:

 

And here are four Japanese stab-bound books we learned how to make at a workshop given by the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild. Next post, I will have a photo of the beautiful wrapper we made for the books. Our teachers, so competent and knowledgable, were Mary MacIntyre and Genevieve Samson. Mary is the national president of CBBAG: both she and Gen are conservators at the National Archives in Ottawa.

Some less fun activity:

Wonder if I can use this as a design? Smashed by ice from my neighour's roof sliding onto my car in the driveway…had to get a new windshield and a new roof on my car…but we will keep the neighours, they are nice!

 

Snd because it is spring, at last there is the dye garden to think about. I have not much idea of what has survived in the pots I brought from our old house and little notion of what I will find already in the garden once spring really arrives; the garden is still under two feet of snow and more snow is forecast for this week. A long, cold, icy, white winter. We have lost a maple tree, boo hoo, and the tree guy could not get in last week to cut is down because the gate was frozen closed…

Meantime, I grow seeds in the house: hope springs eternal…

 

The Japanese Indigo is for the dye garden, but that will remain in pots because she is thought invasive in many parts of the gardening world.

 

That is it for now. I am working on a review of my lists of dye plants so that will be the subject of a post on the near future. I am planning to focus more on plants native to my eco zone.

And, BTW, we had a leak in our roof – water came through the dining room ceiling because of dammed-up ice…this is been a most brutal winter, the winter of many discontents…but many consolations, too, as you can see above!

Until the next time

 

Wendy

 

 

I stART the year..

January 11, 2014

…by looking back! Small wonder the god Janus is conceived as two-faced: with one face that looks back, the other that looks forward. So to look forward, I start from the experience of my 2013 Pilgrimage of Life In Art.

My pinched nerve and rotator cuff injury in early December 2013 has forced quite a few changes of plan, art-wise, for the early winter of 2014. So without 2014 work to show you just yet, for the next while I will present some images and info about my pre-2014 work, some of which has not so far made it to these pages, plus the work of some other fave artists.

My other intention, looking forward, is to update other pages on this blog, especially the info about native dye plants and links to other artists who work with bioregional plants for contact printing, wherever they might live in the world. That will indicate to you the focus of my art direction in 2014! I am looking forward to planning a new native/bioregional/pioneer plant dye garden in my new abode this summer.

Meantime, may I show you some pics of some of my 2013 Artist Books in their clamshell cases, the latter made by my husband, Shlomo? We are both members of the Canadian Book Binders and Book Artists Guild. Our chapter, the Ottawa Valley, has an exhibit of members' Artist Books at the University of Ottawa Morriset Library for a month, starting January 13. The photos of the books were taken in last summer:

Rust and maple prints:

Now this is not an Artist Book, nor do I have his permission to show the work since the unnamed artist died several centuries ago. But the image shows inspiration for my Italian eco prints and eco dyes: Umbrian frescos, decayed over time.

Below is a collection of contact prints on paper and textiles made with blue iris, part of my summer 2013 project to discover the pigment potential in blue iris blooms and the handmade paper potential of iris leaves. These works were exhibited at Portage du Fort, Quebec, as exemplars of Renaissance artist pigments and part of the Samuel de Champlain explorer festival. The display at Portage du Fort was later set up at the Ottawa School of Art. The photo shows a printed silk panel, several iris prints on paper and Artist Books of various structures including pages made with iris leaf paper, printed with iris pigment and iris ink. Clamshell case by Shlomo, papers by Wendy:

,

My artist residency work in Assisi:

More of my paper and textile fresco work, this time at the public gallery of the City of Assisi in the historic Piazza Commune. The photo shows a group exhibit of work by artists in residence 2013 at Arte Studio Ginestrelle, Assisi, Umbria:

One of my Artist Books shown at the University of Ottawa this month:

And the next series of beautiful glass mosaics was made by my daughter, Sarah, using a box of leftover glass fragments given to her by Shlomo. She took a pair of glass doors in her house and fitted the panes with glass mosaic:

Here is a work by another of my fave artists, my grandson, Dylan, now aged 4.

And a final work by an unknown artist's hand, found at the flea market in Gubbio where Saint Francis tamed the wolf: showing Assisi work, though in a less popular colour, pink. Note the beautiful damask linen weave typical of linen handtowels in that region. It is wonderful to think that once, time spent on work like this was considered time well spent:

Until the next Look Forward!

Happy new year to all my readers and a special thank you to all who have subscribed as followers.

Wendy

 

OOPS!

December 13, 2013

Dear Reader,

This post finds me typing very stiffly indeed.

Last week ( foolish me, with a mind having made appointments my body should not have kept when moving boxes in our new dwelling) I injured my Sword and Pen arm via a pinched nerve in the neck, at C5 to be exact. OOOO ….tres painful. Right now, the only way I can lift my right arm is to pick it up with my left. (It's kinda funny to see. )

I have also found, to my surprise and gratification, that many of my friends and family members now have many medical degrees between them that I had heard no previous mention of until this pinched nerve.

Readers, you will, I hope understand if I am slow to blog this month as well as last (the month of our decampment from the old house to the next one. )

Even Christmas dinner 2013 might end up Italian takeout ..(hmmm, there could be benefits to this situation…)

Needless to say, no art done but I do have pics from the ecoprinting sessions I carried out in October at Mount Subasio, Umbria.

 

No more words, just a few pics. Gonna let you guess the plants and pigment sources.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The papers became pages for some of these books:

 

Season's blessings to all my readers.

 

 

More ecoprints on paper from plants of the Subasio

November 11, 2013

At Arte Studio Ginestrelle, my studio set up for printing on paper was dependent on found materials, whatever could be repurposed for steaming papers and textiles. I used wire-mesh screen material scrunched up in a pot or a lasagna pan with a few inches of water below and a large terracotta tile for a lid. A Gypsy Campfire was not an option because we were located in the Regional Park of the Subasio and thus subject to strict forest fire controls. My heat source was propane, the same as we used in the house for cooking (when not using the wood stove). It was a simple and effective set up in an outside barn studio. With a daily temperature of around 75 degrees, that was no hardship!

A pot with wire screen bent to fit (and it makes interesting grid prints, too)

 

Iron bits to make rust prints; abundantly available around this former three storey farm house ( built to house a family of ten) :

 

…The bundles of textile or paper were for reasons of practicality on the small side. This textile bundle had been simmered in some of the plentiful walnuts strewn under the trees on the property. I usually stacked my paper bundles six sheets of papers high, weighing the stack down with a rock on top of a tile. I bundled paper and textile in thick white linen thread and used it later to sew my Artist Books, after it had taken on pigments:

 

I used a lot of different locally available papers, some unavailable to me here in Ottawa. To my surprise, the quality Fabriano paper known worldwide was just not available in Assisi or Perugia nearby, nor in Florence – the latter because the art supply shop was closed when we visited it. (Businesses often close from 1 – 3 pm in the afternoon as well as on Saturday and Sunday). I used thicker papers ( over 300 gms) to enclose my bundles; from these I obtained prints from pigments leaking through the stack. (Fabriano is about two hours drive from Assisi towards the Adriatic at Ancona. )

Here are some samples of my papers that were printed in the first week or so of my residency when I intentionally printed only one kind of plant on each page or between two pages. This was to enable me to judge the colours I could obtain without the colour mixing that occurs when you bundle several plants together.

Post ecoprinting, I often treat paper and textiles surfaces as paintings, taking the colours and forms in directions I choose as counterpoint to the spontanaity in colour and form that is the result of an eco print.

After printing this first set of papers, I enriched their colours in various ways: by using iron as a modifier and painting on iron liquor: by resteaming the papers with other leaves or by using the same type of leaves again and steaming them longer or under more pressure; and by applying natural dye colour (e.g., madder) as powder sprinkled on or as liquid, painted on.

These papers are in their early stages of development in the layering. Later, along with the eco printed textiles, they will be layered with embroidery and taken along other colour roads.

 

The grid prints are from the screen mesh and from a metal rack during the first printing. For layered colours, I made second and third printings. Rust and madder were painted on to give more colour post-printing; squishing blue coloured berries on top of the print introduced some complementary blue shades beside the yellows and oranges.

 

 

I enjoyed the “distressed” effects on some of the thinner papers caused by the high heat in the steambath and the fact that the paper sometimes tore or developed holes. The distressed surfaces and broken colours recalled for me fresco surfaces that have faded or flaked off over the centuries. These papers will form the content of more work on that “distressed fresco” theme now that I am back in my home studio.

Meantime, here are some more examples of “Little Plants of the Subasio” gathered together as pages of botanical scrolls, or destined to be:

Italian Maple (Acer opalus):

 

Rusted pages with Rosa canina (Wild/Dog Rose) and a “ginestrelle” seed pod:

 

 

Rust print:

 

 

Italian Maple with Oak (Quercus robur) modified with iron to give black:

 

 

Blackberry smooshed on maple:

 

 

Maple with iron:

 

 

Dogwood with iron:

 

 

Paper stack barrier sheet: with leaked colour from maple and madder.

 

 

Walnut (Jugland regia) with Dogwood berries and iron:

 

 

Walnut leaf and fern with iron:

 

 

Not sure- maybe maple…Did not take good notes on that one! The blue is Dogwood berries.

 

 

Sicilian Sumac (Rhus coraria)

 

 

Fern, Blackberry and iron:

 

 

Maple, iron and Blackberry:

 

 

Fern, maple and iron:

 

 

Collection: Maple, oak and vine leaves; blackened with iron liquor painted on, post printing.

 

 

Next time: More pages for “Little Plants of the Subasio: October Scrolls” Artist Books

 

Subasio Eco Prints on Paper

November 10, 2013

 

NOTA BENE:

Due to my extreme KLUTZINESS , I have posted my November 10th blog entry today down on October 14 (see below) as an “Update”.  I am afraid to mess with it in case I lose the post…so if you would like to see pics of my work in our show in Assisi, it is down in October 14!

To recover my wits and your esteem, I am posting a second entry today also – - correctly, I hope.

Here begins a series of posts showing eco prints of European Walnut, Olive, Blackberry, Dogwood, Sloe, False Acacia, Elder, Grape, Oak and others; on watercolour papers of various types and origins; using plants foraged on the higher levels of the Subasio near Assisi in Umbria; printed at the Arte Studio Ginestrelle in my outdoor “lab” accompanied at various stages by Guardian Cats along with passing wild boars, Black Scorpions, baby vipers, large porcupines, hares,  P1120628magpies, jays, butterflies and colourful moths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above: Elder with blackberry

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Above: Dogwood with iron.

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Above: Dogwood with iron and blackberry.

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Above: Sumac with iron.

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Above: Dogwood with sumac and iron.

P1120636

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above: European Walnut with Blackberry

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Above: Walnut with iron.

P1120640

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above: Dogwood with iron.

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Above: Dogwood, iron, Blackberry

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Above: Walnut

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Dogwood, Blackberry, iron, Fennel

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Cotinus coggygria (Smokebush).

More next time!

 

 

Artist Books and Textile Frescos at Arte Studio Ginestrelle

October 23, 2013

Time to share with you, dear Readers, some more of the results of my experiments with the “pianticelli” (Little Plants) of the Subasio near Assisi. Most of the  “fioretti” (Little Flowers) have long ago gone to seed, though some valiant survivors remain, like Scabious and Centaura cyanus; only the Cyclamen (a protected species in this regional park) is in its element now. At the start of October when I arrived here, the leaf colours (unmodified by iron) were giving me lots of yellows, many exciting and unCanadian shades…but relentlessly yellow nevertheless…Would I ever see a real blue or green emerge from the dye pot?

I began my printing experiments with papers and so the little Artist Books which were made from them show the range of yellows, both pure and iron or tannin modified; the first textiles (a vintage cotton sheet donated by the Studio) also show that range.

Some pics of the book pages; covers are made from the walnut eco printed cotton (leaves and nuts):

Artist Books 1 and 2: “October Scroll: Little Plants of the Subasio” (“Pergamena di Ottobre: Pianticelle del Subasio”)

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The accordion spine records the names of the Subasio plants printed on the pages inside in Latin, Italian and English.

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The covers are of Walnut shibori prints – leaves and nuts.

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Book structure

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Each page is printed with a single exemplar of a Subasio plant: this is the Juglans regia (European Walnut):

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.and these are the stems and tannin-rich seed pods  of the Ginestrelle (Cytisus scoparius or Broom,  one of several variety of Broom) from which the Studio takes it name. (I am now a Ginestrellian, I have learned!) The dyes wash around the stems and pods, creating the water-colour effects I love. Those few yellow blobs below the pod prints are a few last blooms left on the Ginestrelle – just for me! Thank you, Saint Francis:

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More books next time. Now for a few textile “frescos” .

So despite my original idea to print only paper, I bought ten metres of unused but very old linen at the flea market in Assisi, a very thick handwoven and textured weave. It was all in a roll and sewn  closed with little red cross stitches…it might as well have had my name written on in for the Desire To Possess overtook me completely…I had not intended at all to work in textiles because I thought a month’s worth of them them too clunky to cart across the ocean from Canada to Italy.  Pads of watercolour paper are way easier to transport, obtain, prepare for dyeing and to print. But the antiques flea market close to the Portziuncula of Saint Francis and Saint Clare at Santa Maria degli Angleli was soooo tempting…ooo, the piles of antique linens, to dye for, ha ha.

Even so, the lovely, heavy, textured, handwoven linen proved a b**** to print because it was without the “patina” of years of laundering.  To get a variety of colours during the weeks here, given the slow development of fall pigments in the Subasio October leaves, I had to dye each textile several times with a view to tweaking the chemical reactions in the dyes hoping to provoke tannins that would in turn provoke other colours from the leaves printed in succession. Each successive print gave more and more broken colour and form; previous colours changed in the environment of the “leaf of the week” coupled with tannins and more soaks in alum acetate. At first I was really worried that nothing but yellow would emerge, as happened the first week here with my papers. But patience and faith in the processes of Slow Art triumphed. The results appear to me like the fragments of frescos I delight to see all around on the walls of Assisi and other medieval towns , colour and form diffusing over the centuries, plaster textures disintegrating, colours receding and advancing and changing with time.   (I am posting more pics of them on FB if you need others – just a few examples now):

Colour notes: Walnut, elder, sumac for yellows; Broom seed pods, Cotinus, oak leaves,  walnut fruits for browns; Dogwood berries, blackberries and Cotinus leaves for blues; plus some other berries, unknown; “Ruta”, Dogwood and Cotinus leaves for greens; iron dips for greying and violating and greening; and many little surprises from the overlapping of numerous dye baths and plant associations…

Here, the black-brown print of the oak leaf (Quercus robur, Roverella) overprinted with yellow from walnut leaf gave up some surprise blues, the Enhance feature on iPhoto notwithstanding:

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The reds are from madder, Rubia tinctoria powder selectively sprinkled and dribbled on for the last layer of prints. No madder plants at this altitude on the Subasio, likely lower down if they are here. The only galium I can find here is Galium lucidum, Shining Bedstraw. It gives no red as far as I can discover even though some authoriities propose it as the same variety as G. mollugo which does give red from the roots. Anyhow, the madder powder from Couleurs de Plantes in France is still a bioregional fit with the Subasio plants used here. Plus the reds of this Madder Rich are maintained even in higher processing temperatures,  which is nice.

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Next time, more Textile Frescos with images of some of the fresco colours from Umbrian churches.

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October prints from the Subasio

October 14, 2013

So mostly photos today showing my experiments with the regional plants of the Subasio. My printing setup is a tad on the ghetto side which is what I had predicted and had planned to cooperate with. The first few prints had way too much steam puffed at them so came out rather watery. An iron wash (ferrous sulphate painted on the wimpy bits) brought out the lines and new colours. So far, I have obtained a multitude of yellows and not a few blues (from dogwood berries and blackberries) plus pinky purples from pomegranate seed juice. Browns, tans, rusts are coming along as the days of October draw closer to the end of the month and the leaves begin to turn colour. Good old cotinus gave a tad of blue, too!

 

Here are the pics from the first two weeks of textile prints ( prints on paper coming soon – they are being worked into Artist Books. I must say I have my work cut out for me to complete the projects I had intended to do…the “distractions” are many…so let us start with a few of them before we get down to eco/enviro print buisiness:

Brunellschi's Dome (Il Duomo) in nearby Florence:

 

 

 

Mount Subasio view:

 

Assisi with pilgrims:

 

Studio visitor:

 

Fuzzy photo, sorry: Balckberry leaves and fruit, cotinus, oak and iron:

 

Detail of above:

 

Juglans regia (European walnut) on the Studio's vintage sheets:

 

Cornus sanguinea (Dogwood) leaves and berries with dried Sunflowers:

 

Cotinus coggygria (Smokebush), dogwood berries and iron on cotton:

Cotinus, pomegranate, dogwood berries and leaves on vintage cotton:

 

The cotton collection:

 

Silk organza soaking up the rust juice from the rust-printed papers; white wine vinegar at 6% acid on rusty iron bits,

 

The iron mordanted silk organza (from home) with cotinus and dogwood (berries):

Others in the silk organza collection:

 

With pomegranate and dogwood berries:

Random print: blue from dogwood berries, yellows from the leaves, browns too.

 

Next time:

Eco printed papers for Artist Books and prints on vintage handwoven linen from the monthly flea market in Assisi. Could not resist the linen…

 

Pax et Bonum to all my readers- the beautiful Franciscan blessing

 

Wendy

 

Subasio Scrolls and Fresco Textiles

October 14, 2013

“Inspired by the broken colours and forms of the still-radiant ancient frescos on the walls of churches and streets in Assisi and neighbouring medieval hill-towns, I created a series of Artist Books and textile frescos whose content refers to the natural environment of the Subasio as well as to its powerful spiritual and Dantean heritage. My intention was to research the bioregional plants of the Subasio near the Arte Studionestrelle at Santa Maria di Lignano and to discover natural pigments which I could use to dye and print locally-made paper and vintage linen. I was interested in a contemporary application of the traditional knowledge about natural dyes associated historically with this region of Italy where much of that older wisdom seems to have disappeared. My question was: Could some version of that knowledge be restored? The October native vegetation growing high up the mountain provided a rich palette from leaves, bark, berries and late blooms that worked together in successive layers of dye and print. My work on this beautiful mountain recalls to me the Fioretti (Little Flowers) of Saint Francis of Assisi whose love for the Umbrian landscape brought him and others closer to God. And although I was here too late in the season to use the traditional ginestrelle blooms in my prints, I was able to obtain much colour from their seed pods! ” (Shlomo Feldberg constructed covers and boxes for Wendy's Artist Books during his residency in addition to completing his own mixed media work.)

The statement above about my work during my residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle appears in the catalogue for the show of contemporary art at the public art gallery of Assisi. The show takes place the last week of November. As well as the inspiration I found so abundantly in and around Mount Subasio, I am pleased to share with you some of the Artist Books and textiles created during my October 2013 residency and featured in the annual exhibit by many of the Artists In Residence. I have also brought home with me many eco printed papers and textiles that will form much of my work later in the winter.

First pic: Umbrian handwoven linen, highly textured and serviceable cloth; an Assisi-fleamarket find, vintage but never used.

It took me many prep and printing sessions with mordants and local plants to express the Giotto/Cimabue/Pintoricchio fresco colours I had in mind. Even then, I used madder dye powder for the reds since Rubia tinctorum does not grow at almost 1000 metres above sea level where the Studio is located.

The abundance of yellows in the earlyOctober leaves was a challenge. During my first week of printings, shades of yellow or brown was all I could manage to obtain using a basic alum acetate mordant. Hmm. I knew I would print the papers and cloth several times again for more colour and form.

As the October days passed, the fall colours began to change and pigments both increased and decreased in the leaves. I searched for sources of blue and found them in Dogwood berries (Cornus sanguinea), Sloes (Prunus espinosa – tiny plums) and Cotinus coggygria (more blue after the middle of October). Purple showed in the bark of walnut twigs (Juglans regia) as well as late blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) and sloes; greens from Dogwood leaves (and berries, too); moss greens from Rosa canina (Dog Rose). The yellows were varied: Golden-apricot from Olive leaves; deep golden from Walnut; yellow-chartreuse from Sumac. The “ginestrelle” or Dyer's Broom (Cytisus scoparius in these parts) had only seed pods for printing tannin browns in October, its brilliant yellow blooms long gone.

Here, blue, green and teal from Dogwood berries and leaves:

 

And the enticing golden yellows from European Walnut on old cotton sheets:

 

A small display of yellows with iron (flowers by Shlomo)

 

Dogwood greens, walnut yellows and deep browns; pinks and purple-pink from walnut twig bark.

 

Rusted silk chiffon with BlackBerry and Dogwood berries:

 

 
Dogwood and walnut with the last sunflower:
 
 
Walnut with Dogwood, Elder and iron:
 

 

Artist Books : “Subasio Scrolls”

With the Subasio Scroll Collection I am continuing to develop an earlier goal: to use the accordion book form as a botanical scroll. This collection of three books is entilted “Little Plants of the Subasio: October Scroll” (1, 2, 3). A fourth book is coptic-bound and contains my handwritten copies of sayings from Dante and Francis of Assisi. The book is also entitled “Little Plants of the Subasio”.

Each page of each book, back and front, is printed with leaves, bark and/or berries and fruits of the area around Arte Studio Ginestrelle, which is llocated nearly at the top of this part of the Subasio. The range of available plants changes with the altitude (here, between 800 and 1000m.) So while madder might be found on the bottom layer of the vegetation belt, only a relative (Galium lucidum, but not a red one! ) was found at the mid-to-high level where the Studio is.

 

My aim was to use only what I could forage within that vegetation layer on the mountain and therefore not to import plants from other areas. I did succeed in that aim, except for my use of powdered madder…one cannot express the spirit of Giotto's frescos without red! All the other plant colours came from the vegetation right at hand.

(Aside: I was unable to find any really good locally-made paper for my books , despite the fact that the Fabriano art paper factory is within a few hours drive of Assisi and the other hill towns. The art supply shop in Florence was closed on Saturdays, the day we went there. One bookbinder we met in Florence says he sends for his supplies to Talas in Brooklyn!!! Or to Paris or Germany. Wow. )

 

Some of my main pigment sources were: Juglans regia, Cornus sanguinea, Rubus fruticosus, Prunus espinosa, Robinia pseudoacacia (invasive, introduced), Carpino nero, Quercus robur, “Rutacae” – species unknown except for the family relationship), Sambucus negra, Rosa canina, Acer opalus, plus Olive and Grape.

 

My “Subasio October Scrolls” collection of Artist Books consists so far of three accordion-spined and one coptic-bound book. ( Covers and Book Box were made by Shlomo Feldberg using my printed textiles and papers.) These Artist Books remain in Assisi for exhibition. Others will be added to the collection in time as I continue to work with the many papers and textiles I made there and brought home.

 

Below: Walnut leaf print on the box: walnut dyed linen thread for the book stitiching

 
 

Completed scrolls atop the reference books I used to help me identify the native and local plants. I had hope they could tell me which might be for use as sources of pigment. None of these books discussed the traditional dye uses of the plants, even when they gave extensive info about medicinal use. This confirmed my supposition that natural dye knowledge about the area was limited or non-existent.

 

 

A wild fennel and rust page in one of my books:

 

Walnut leaf page:

 

An arrray of pages in a scroll book:

 

The spine of a book with plant labels in English, Latin and Italian:

 

 

Robinia pseudoacacia:

 

 

Carpino nero (Black Hornbeam):

 

 

The little coptic-bound book of sayings from Dante and Francis of Assisi; on ecoprinted pages:

 

 

Dante, Canto IX. Mount Subasio and some prayer-poems by Francis of Assisi.

 
Title page:
 

 

 

Book box and book covers:

 

 

 
 

I leave you today with a promise to post more pics and info when (a) I have sorted and retrieved some lost photos (FB crashed iPhoto and ate my camera upload…lost a LOT of pics!!!) and (b) after we have moved to our new house next week.

(This is not our new house)

Those colours! The ducal palace at Gubbio, the town where Francis tamed the wolf:

 

Here is more inspiration from tne colours and forms of Umbria:

The view from our bedroom:

 

Look up for inspiration:

 

Look down…

 

Even the distressed surfaces inspire: in fact, these above all…

 

 

I hope I leave you looking for more like Brother Cat Cimabue (L) and Brother Cat Negrito (R)- the Studio's Resident Royalty, assigned to outdoor duties but skilled in finding “work” inside
 

 

More pics next time! Leaf prints for book pages, inspiration photos…and photos of the Studio and environs.

Best to you, dear Reader.

 

More October Ecoprints from the Subasio

October 14, 2013

“Inspired by the broken colours and forms of the still-radiant ancient frescos on the walls of churches and streets in Assisi and neighbouring medieval hill-towns, I created a series of Artist Books and textile frescos whose content refers to the natural environment of the Subasio as well as to its powerful spiritual and Dantean heritage. My intention was to research the bioregional plants of the Subasio near the Arte Studionestrelle at Santa Maria di Lignano and to discover natural pigments which I could use to dye and print locally-made paper and vintage linen. I was interested in a contemporary application of the traditional knowledge about natural dyes associated historically with this region of Italy where much of that older wisdom seems to have disappeared. My question was: Could some version of that knowledge be restored? The October native vegetation growing high up the mountain provided a rich palette from leaves, bark, berries and late blooms that worked together in successive layers of dye and print. My work on this beautiful mountain recalls to me the Fioretti (Little Flowers) of Saint Francis of Assisi whose love for the Umbrian landscape brought him and others closer to God. And although I was here too late in the season to use the traditional ginestrelle blooms in my prints, I was able to obtain much colour from their seed pods! ” (Shlomo Feldberg constructed covers and boxes for Wendy's Artist Books during his residency in addition to completing his own mixed media work.)

The statement above about my work during my residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle appears in the catalogue for the show of contemporary art at the public art gallery of Assisi. The show takes place the last week of November. As well as the inspiration I found so abundantly in and around Mount Subasio, I am pleased to share with you some of the Artist Books and textiles created during my October 2013 residency and featured in the annual exhibit by many of the Artists In Residence. I have also brought home with me many eco printed papers and textiles that will form much of my work later in the winter.

First pic: Umbrian handwoven linen, highly textured and serviceable cloth; an Assisi-fleamarket find, vintage but never used.

It took me many prep and printing sessions with mordants and local plants to express the Giotto/Cimabue/Pintoricchio fresco colours I had in mind. Even then, I used madder dye powder for the reds since Rubia tinctorum does not grow at almost 1000 metres above sea level where the Studio is located.

The abundance of yellows in the earlyOctober leaves was a challenge. During my first week of printings, shades of yellow or brown was all I could manage to obtain using a basic alum acetate mordant. Hmm. I knew I would print the papers and cloth several times again for more colour and form.

As the October days passed, the fall colours began to change and pigments both increased and decreased in the leaves. I searched for sources of blue and found them in Dogwood berries (Cornus sanguinea), Sloes (Prunus espinosa – tiny plums) and Cotinus coggygria (more blue after the middle of October). Purple showed in the bark of walnut twigs (Juglans regia) as well as late blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) and sloes; greens from Dogwood leaves (and berries, too); moss greens from Rosa canina (Dog Rose). The yellows were varied: Golden-apricot from Olive leaves; deep golden from Walnut; yellow-chartreuse from Sumac. The “ginestrelle” or Dyer's Broom (Cytisus scoparius in these parts) had only seed pods for printing tannin browns in October, its brilliant yellow blooms long gone.

Here, blue, green and teal from Dogwood berries and leaves:

 

And the enticing golden yellows from European Walnut on old cotton sheets:

 

A small display of yellows with iron (flowers by Shlomo)

 

Dogwood greens, walnut yellows and deep browns; pinks and purple-pink from walnut twig bark.

 

Rusted silk chiffon with BlackBerry and Dogwood berries:

 

 
Dogwood and walnut with the last sunflower:
 
 
Walnut with Dogwood, Elder and iron:
 

 

Artist Books : “Subasio Scrolls”

With the Subasio Scroll Collection I am continuing to develop an earlier goal: to use the accordion book form as a botanical scroll. This collection of three books is entilted “Little Plants of the Subasio: October Scroll” (1, 2, 3). A fourth book is coptic-bound and contains my handwritten copies of sayings from Dante and Francis of Assisi. The book is also entitled “Little Plants of the Subasio”.

Each page of each book, back and front, is printed with leaves, bark and/or berries and fruits of the area around Arte Studio Ginestrelle, which is llocated nearly at the top of this part of the Subasio. The range of available plants changes with the altitude (here, between 800 and 1000m.) So while madder might be found on the bottom layer of the vegetation belt, only a relative (Galium lucidum, but not a red one! ) was found at the mid-to-high level where the Studio is.

 

My aim was to use only what I could forage within that vegetation layer on the mountain and therefore not to import plants from other areas. I did succeed in that aim, except for my use of powdered madder…one cannot express the spirit of Giotto's frescos without red! All the other plant colours came from the vegetation right at hand.

(Aside: I was unable to find any really good locally-made paper for my books , despite the fact that the Fabriano art paper factory is within a few hours drive of Assisi and the other hill towns. The art supply shop in Florence was closed on Saturdays, the day we went there. One bookbinder we met in Florence says he sends for his supplies to Talas in Brooklyn!!! Or to Paris or Germany. Wow. )

 

Some of my main pigment sources were: Juglans regia, Cornus sanguinea, Rubus fruticosus, Prunus espinosa, Robinia pseudoacacia (invasive, introduced), Carpino nero, Quercus robur, “Rutacae” – species unknown except for the family relationship), Sambucus negra, Rosa canina, Acer opalus, plus Olive and Grape.

 

My “Subasio October Scrolls” collection of Artist Books consists so far of three accordion-spined and one coptic-bound book. ( Covers and Book Box were made by Shlomo Feldberg using my printed textiles and papers.) These Artist Books remain in Assisi for exhibition. Others will be added to the collection in time as I continue to work with the many papers and textiles I made there and brought home.

 

Below: Walnut leaf print on the box: walnut dyed linen thread for the book stitiching

 
 

Completed scrolls atop the reference books I used to help me identify the native and local plants. I had hope they could tell me which might be for use as sources of pigment. None of these books discussed the traditional dye uses of the plants, even when they gave extensive info about medicinal use. This confirmed my supposition that natural dye knowledge about the area was limited or non-existent.

 

 

A wild fennel and rust page in one of my books:

 

Walnut leaf page:

 

An arrray of pages in a scroll book:

 

The spine of a book with plant labels in English, Latin and Italian:

 

 

Robinia pseudoacacia:

 

 

Carpino nero (Black Hornbeam):

 

 

The little coptic-bound book of sayings from Dante and Francis of Assisi; on ecoprinted pages:

 

 

Dante, Canto IX. Mount Subasio and some prayer-poems by Francis of Assisi.

 
Title page:
 

 

 

Book box and book covers:

 

 

 
 

I leave you today with a promise to post more pics and info when (a) I have sorted and retrieved some lost photos (FB crashed iPhoto and ate my camera upload…lost a LOT of pics!!!) and (b) after we have moved to our new house next week.

(This is not our new house)

Those colours! The ducal palace at Gubbio, the town where Francis tamed the wolf:

 

Here is more inspiration from tne colours and forms of Umbria:

The view from our bedroom:

 

Look up for inspiration:

 

Look down…

 

Even the distressed surfaces inspire: in fact, these above all…

 

 

I hope I leave you looking for more like Brother Cat Cimabue (L) and Brother Cat Negrito (R)- the Studio's Resident Royalty, assigned to outdoor duties but skilled in finding “work” inside
 

 

More pics next time! Leaf prints for book pages, inspiration photos…and photos of the Studio and environs.

Best to you, dear Reader.

 

Plants of the Subasio

October 7, 2013

Second post from Assisi and the mountainous terrain that is the Subasio in the “Green Heart” of Italy.

After settling in last week and waiting for the heavy rains to pass (much needed rain, though), I have started checking out the dye potential of plants of Mount Subasio. There are three levels of vegetation on the slopes of the mountain: at the lowest eleveation, in the valley and a little way up, we see lots of olive groves and vinyards, along with fruit trees like peach and quince. The middle level is home to deciduous trees and bushes such as European varieties of oak, alder, dogwood, maple, hawthorn, elder, walnut and birch. Up at the top ( well over 700 meters up), we find Cedars of Lebanon (first seen here in the Botanical Garden of Pisa in 1628), a kind of Douglas Fir ( a well-adapted, non-native introduction from North America ) and various tough pines. ALL are possibilities for the dye-print steaming vessel!

Besides cotton rag paper, some vintage cotton sheets from the residence will make their way into the dye pot. (… and more later on such domestic things: I am planning to devote a few posts to the exquisitely simple yet rustically- elegant architecture and furnishings of the Arte Studio Ginestre: salvaged materials – from family chests and country properties, from woods and scrapyards, uncontrived yet styled…dear Reader, Architectural Digect could learn a thing or two about Italian Country from the Ginestrelle Studio and its talented and devoted Director, Marina Merli)

So to start us off, here are some of the plants I have collected and begun to print ( with many more pics of prints in future posts):

Medlar: a kind of apple scarcely seen anymore in some European countries, Ready to eat when soft:

Our old friend the elder, “sambucco” here, with rusty companion:

 

Not just a tree but a thicket of figs outside the Barn Studio:

 

Blackberries galore:

 

Dramatic peeling bark on a birch:,

 

The Eglantine wild rose of Fairy Tale fame:,

 

Rosemary:

 

Mistletoe:

 

Bits of meteorite rock with Assisi pink limestone:

 

Studio chair with wovem wheat stalk seat:

 

Dogwood:

 

Centaura cynanus:

 

Pomegranates in a pot:

 

Olives:

 

Malva zebrina:

 

Cyclamen:

 

Carpino nero (Ostyra carpinifolia) – not known to me in Canada but widespread on the Subasio. Prints BRIGHT BRIGHT yellow!

 

The familiar lovely blue of Wild Chicory;

 

And last for today, the walnut:

 

Next posts: the prints and some little peeks the deco in Ginestrelle.

 

Wendy

 


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