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

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






15 thoughts on “” O, to be in Blogland, now that April’s here…”

  1. Good to see you back, sorry for all your troubles moving house is never easy at the best of times.
    Love the scrolls and the idea of using the dried stems in the spine, I grow coreopsis might try keeping my stems.
    A new garden is always an exciting challenge hope the snow melts soon.

  2. O h Sweetie, so glad you are back—and hating all that winter: ours was bad but not nearly as much as the East! Small blessings…..

    Lovely to see the “compendium” of work from warmer climes!

    My seeds too are sitting here staring at me, time to start sprouting!

  3. So very nice to see you back here Wendy..good to have look back and forward in all your pix..so much disorder from snow, moving house, shoulder accident and an ice smash from neighbor’s roof on your car. Yikes.. Lovely to see the Subasio/Assisi photos and references. i hope to be back in italy in october for a bit..and meanwhile will be poring over your blogs and info for dye garden ideas for my teeny back porch and pots!

    1. Hi Ginny!

      Many thanks for the welcome! In due course, I will report on the Subasio work that was returned to me in late January after the show in Assisi. O, I did love my time there and am sighing with ennui thinking of you being there in October! I am also due to make an update to my dye plant reference pages – it has been a question of collecting my stuff all in one place after the move when things ran away from me!


  4. Hi Wendy

    Lovely to see your blog, and may you be very happy in your new home. I too have moved, not far, just 2 kilometres down the road, but from rural to urban. All in the space of about five weeks, we sold and bought a smaller house. Still recovering! I am putting together a post on my blog, so your’s has been a hurry up call.

    The non toxic etching process looks interesting, so looking forward to the prints. And hope the garden is revealed quickly. I am sure the new surroundings will offer up new possibilities for your art.

    All the Best

    1. Hi Celia!

      Hope your house and garden work well for your eco colours! Do you know what plants you have there?

      I am hoping to get time soon for the non toxic printmaking now that the studio finally is a workable space…but now gardening must come first, after the long and snow winter here – been if we are expecting snow tomorrow and even if it was 25 degrees here yesterday and a Blood Moon overnight! I did plant some Icicle Pansies on Saturday, though!


  5. Glad you’re getting settled in your new digs! Missed your posts, Wendy. Ouch to the car damage! Nasty winter you had.

    I haven’t heard that Japanese indigo is invasive, in Canada at least. It’s daylight sensitive. I have enough trouble trying to get it to set seeds before frost kills it here in relatively mild Vancouver. There are other plants that are a bigger problem in my garden. (Anybody want some baby weld?) Even woad isn’t bad at all – though it’s on a proposed list in BC and considered noxious just south of us in Washington State.

    1. Hi Louisa!

      Great comment! Am checking out various info on Japanese Indigo for future posts.Here in Zone 4 USDA/Can 5, it can be half hardy with seeds sprouting the next year. The seeds I have are from stock such as that – a dyer friend in Ottawa grows the plant in pots on her condo patio. I doubt that our J.I. would be invasive in the sense of ever ending up on a Most Wanted poster but it has relatives that are big bullies and are thus outlawed in other parts of the world. Plus I hear that there is and has been much confusion over the nomenclature. The question is, do the bullies give dye, too? Yes, I have read about woad and weld being Baddies on the west coast and elsewhere. My solution is to use dye powders for these and not to grow what does not appear naturally in my ecozone


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