At the Burrow DyeTable # Two: A Little Poke in the Night

Would love ya’all to read this exemplary post on how to dye with pokeberries. Thinking the ideas herein might work for elderberries, too. Dye divas everywhere, especially those at The Wild Dyery (FB) – would you like to take up th challenge? Thank you, Jean, at Grackleandsun

Grackle & Sun

Oh, my friends, have I been harvesting poke.  I’ve been harvesting poke for weeks.  Over hill, over dale, thorough bush, thorough brier, over park, over pale, thorough flood, thorough fire, I do wander everywhere… collecting all the pokeberries I can find.  Well, not all of them.  I left plenty for the songbirds.  Husband lent a handsome hand, as well, because he is all things good.  Happily, despite the drought this summer, there is many much poke.  It is glorious.

And for what do I gather these succulent little berries that cling in clusters on their pendulous racemes?  For dyeing, of course.  To make that dyer’s alchemy happen—to pull colour from one to put upon another.  Transference.  The dictionary defines alchemy as “any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.”  If turning the often (but wrongly)…

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October Studio

September has passed in a blur of sun, studio-time and a mad race to prepare for the annual studio tour of two weekends. As I have spent most of the post-tour week cleaning up, it occurred to me that you, dear Reader, might like a peek at where I do most of my art work.

My studio is in the basement of our house and it comprises areas for sewing, cutting, painting, bookbinding, printing, dyeing, laundry, garden planning and the hoarding of art supplies, books , sewing machines, seeds and the kids' artwork, plus sentimental “bits and bobs” as the Brits say; and not to forget the occasional mouse… The floor lists dramatically to starboard ( or is it port?), the ceiling is less than eight feet (that's OK for me, though – I am nowadays less than five feet tall) and one needs the lights on at all times (daylight fluorescent bulbs). It will never be featured in that Spiffy Studio mag but it's real and it's a Place of My Own.

Especially it works for West, my studio assistant….he is grandson Dylan's marmalade kitty who stayed over a few days this week, dined on the mice, then pooed in the bathtub…When not sitting in my tool box, West was on my keyboard watching the scroll bar go up and down…

Please come in! The Ikea chest of drawers would not go up the stairs so, boo hoo, I had to keep In the studio it to store my eco dye stash…

Facing you in the above pic as you enter is the dye cupboard (half empty because the rest of th supplies are still outside at my outdoor summer dye station.)

Left of the open door at the entrance and in the foreground is the wet station (sink, dye vats and mordant baths) , printing and book binding area; straight ahead on the left at mid-ground is my cutting and general work table with the paper etc. cupboards nearby. On the back wall are the painting supplies and various new canvases etc. We sourced all the furniture and cupboards at Habitat for Humanity or at thrift stores.

A closer shot showing what's on my table this week: Some more eco prints to frame; a couple of bricks covered in paper to use as weights for flattening book pages. Plus my coffee, of course.

My sewing area with the Sacred Stash (of textiles, naturally). I like to arrange the textiles into small collections or WIP projects; I put the collections in labelled, see-through plastic boxes – easy to find and to shlep back and forth. The second chair is for the grandkids…

My toolbox: The needlecase was the VERY FIRST free motion project I did. I learned free motion stitching quite by accident one day – I somehow read the chapter on darning with the sewing machine and had an epiphany! (What If the engineer who wrote the sewing machine manual had written How to Make Art With Your Sewing Machine? In the next few posts I will be doing a little retrospective on my embroideries since I am hoping to be able to add to the older series. But that is for later.) Just now:

A box of paper and textiles offcuts, awaiting their new assignments as art material:

A mordant bath and an indigo vat ( plastic boxes work fine! )

On the Inspiration Shelf: work in progress – Artist Books that never got finished for the tour! They are to be coptic-bound.

Shlomo put up this sonnet by Shakespeare for me to read while doing the laundry:

Some other work that is still in progress and never made it to the tour:

Eco print with indigo on silk dupion

Indigo, rust and tannin prints on linen and cotton – also WIPs

A few more rust print WIPs:

 

“May Gardenista” on the work table, WIP:

My mass book “Magnificat” recycled as an altered book – almost 400 pages folded! The cover of the mass book beside it shows a work by Odilon Redon “The Flight Into Egypt” (Mary, Joseph and the Child Jesus, refugees, resting on the road). The colours in the painting are similar to the ones in “May Gardenista”” don't you think?

 

 

And now to show you some of what emerged from the studio in time for the studio tour this month:

 

 

 

The candleholders are by Shlomo who also participated in the tour with his metal art. They go well with the rust, tannin and indigo prints, I thought

 

Most of the work above is on paper or cloth dyed/printed with indigo, rust, plants and tannin.

Last pic:

I found this print when sorting stuff for the tour. I bought it many years ago and I cannot find the name of the painter. Does anyone recognise the work? It looks kind of Klee-ish. I had been in Canada only two years when I found it In the shop of the National Gallery of Canada, a repro of course. I felt it was something of a self-portrait, me wrapping myself in my British flag, missing my old home. And check her hippy headband.