Indigo blues et amaranth reds in August

A busy month so far! Art, gardens, travels, guests…

Brooklyn and Manhattan in late July, early August were HOT! Ottawa, too.

But refuge was close: The Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and in particular, the native plants garden, were ripe with goldenrod and black-eyed susan:

 

We were there In Brooklyn for these two beauties, giving the little mama a break and a bit of time for a nap – Mr. Zev is no sleeper! So a walk every day with the Grandies in the botanical garden was heaven for all concerned. Don't you love the tie Zev is wearing on top of his onesie? Smiles to light up your heart!

 

Earlier in the summer, we paid a visit to the grave of one of my dear friends at Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario. The beautiful chapel there is alive with icons, painted by a member of the community. I am making a little book in memory of Martha and her garden.

 

Not long after, West, our grandson's kitty stayed over for a few days. Here you see West taking his ease after his brave but fruitless night-long vigil at the mousehole in our kitchen floor. Dylan's mama found West (he was nine months old ) at the animal shelter and just had to take him home. West had arrived injured when about six weeks old, and most adopters were afraid to take him on – but not Dylan's mama. Looking pretty comfy, isn't he?

 

The August garden is full and lucious with colour still but, dear Reader, my “kaleyard” this year needs to be renamed the “amaranth yard”! This year, I planted the black 'Lacinato' kale in a pot along with what I thought were two dwarf red amaranth ( I got the seeds from a hippy seed seller and I forget the name of the variety) but which have turned out to be extremely ambitious and quite bumptious imposters, size-wise; they are reaching ever-skyward and thus dwarfing the usually-giant kale! OOOPs! And it is here to stay. The amaranth will self seed copiously around the whole neighbourhood- its tiny seed becomes windborne quite easily. I am growing it mainly for dye; even if it is not the famous Hopi red amaranth, it may yield some dye anyway…I did have a red amaranth (variety unkown) for many years in my other garden and it gave me a lasting pink.

Some other dye sources: this year, blue cornflower and yellow calendula. Monarda didyma “Cambridge Scarlet” , Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb' and 'Route 66', chartreuse smokebush and yellow black-eyed susan:

 

 

 

 

Studio time this month has been taken up with prep for the annual West End Studio Tour. Indigo and rust will be featuring large on the displays. This year, I will show rust, indigo and tannin monotypes on paper and cloth wall pieces: eco dyed and printed silk scarves, artist books and small art cards. A selection follows:

Rusted paper and cloth with indigo and tannins ( plants, too):

Indigo, rust and tannin on paper. One of six larger works.

Laying out the monotype print:

 

A stack of printed cloth and papers:

I made some cast paper dyed with indigo and painted with acrylics for my books:

 

 

Eco dyed scarves:

'

An older rusted linen work, embroidered and two-sided:

Some scarf prints:
 

Some eco prints on paper and cloth:

Off the country again tomorrow to meet up with the other grandchildren and to usher out August.

I am taking my wildfower books, my sewing kit and my hapazome hammers. Flower pounding! Kids LOVE it! Can you guess the plants Dylan and I pounded?

 

 

 

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Rust and Indigo For A Chinese Thread Book

Thanks to the delightful kindness of Kit Tyrrell, one of my blog readers in the UK, I have received two booklets by Ruth Smith about folded books that can contain many compartments. One such book is the Chinese Thread Book (AKA the Miao Dong thread-and-needle case) that I mentioned in my last post. Kit had found the booklets at a textile show in the UK and had made the needle case using soft Japanese paper. She was so generous in sending them to me to have a go, too.

One of Ruth Smith's instruction books:

(You can see the thread book on the far right of the cover pic)

The traditional Miao thread and needle cases can have up to thirteen folded 'containers' stacked on top of each other and enclosed within covers that shut like a pocketbook. Miao embroiderers kept thread, needles, patterns, etc, in these “pockets”

For the annual CBBAG (bookbinding) swap ( themed “Envelope” this year) I was looking for an interesting way to bind and/or contain a collection of 20 artistically-made 'envelopes' containing creative enclosures.

We were encouraged to explore the 'Conceal-Reveal' concept inherent in the theme. I had in mind to make a multi-pouch container based on the traditional needle-and-thread cases made by the Miao people of South West China. Their needle-and-thread cases are usually made from paper, often handmade, and decorated with symbols and designs of cultural significance. (In fact, the Miao designs are a principal means of handing down their history since until recently, the Miao people were 94% illiterate, having no written records, relying instead on oral and graphic-image storytelling and record-keeping to transmit and preserve their ancient culture)

Instead of paper, however, I decided to use my (pre-reduced) indigo and rust dyed fabrics (stashed from last year) because of an indigo connection: the Miao people are famous for growing indigo (three species) and for indigo-dyeing their handwoven hemp clothing that they later applique with exquisitely skilful embroideries.

In addition, I thought that placing the CBBAG Swap envelopes inside still other 'envelopes' that also 'conceal' then 'reveal' seemed another appropriate and enriching concept to explore, and one that links to the curiosity, excitement and mystery we might experience in turning the pages of a book.

This is what my Chinese Thread Book looked like when it was done: I needed four larger compartments each topped with one smaller 'box' or 'envelope'; the eight compartments are mounted on cloth-bound book board covers. Each of the larger 'boxes' contains five art envelopes (about 5″ square) with an enclosure; the smaller box on top contains small cards bearing the name of each participant in the project.


But first, there was many a trial and much mess and often, confusion…More books of instruction and also You Tubes were gratefully consulted…

After the confidence-building reading and video-watching, on to the trials – playtime!

On the studio table is some rust and indigo dyed cloth laid out for auditioning as book cloth (cloth backed with paper to use in bookbinding)

Some trials with paper – origami folds to make a box:

 

The vintage linen (below) dyed with rust and indigo was successfully backed with thin mulberry paper to make book cloth. I adhered the cloth and paper together with Heat 'N Bond and Steam-a-Seam; no wet paste or glue for this application, though I have used it very successfully before. But wet glue had been a mistake in a previous trial with another kind of cloth). Lessons learned from paper trials and the cloth-wet glue trial led to success with the first of the four folded cloth 'envelopes' AKA origami-fold boxes:

Smaller boxes are stacked (glued with PVA) on top of the larger ones and open up to reveal their contents:

The paper layer of the bookcloth of which the wee boxes are made is painted with indigo; the cloth side is rust printed cotton. Some of the thin mulberry paper tore but I fixed that easily with acrylic glazing liquid – in fact, giving the whole mulberry paper layer a thin coat of glaze which serves both to enhance the indigo blue colour and to strengthen the paper. (The Miao people varnish their paper). One has to give some thought to the colour of the paper that lines the cloth before adhering cloth and paper together and folding it – something I failed to do! The result: a lot of unwanted white showing! So I made a wash from the indigo and CAREFULLY painted it on the white paper/outside of the boxes…though after the thread case was finished, not before, which would have been safer.

Inside the wee box, a little card for each artist with their name:

 

Inside the larger folded boxes five 'envelopes' with their enclosures:

 

On top of each of the five 'envelopes' inside the larger box I placed a lid made from my hand made and hand dyed indigo and rust paper. I intended the 'lid' to conceal the contents briefly even after the box is opened…you lift the lid by a wee loop.Each of the four lids is different:
 
 

 

 

This box shows my own CBBAG 'Envelope' inside:

 

The case for the folded boxes is covered with rust-printed linen and furnished with ribbon ties: It looks like a hard-cover book.

 

The covers fold flat to keep the folded boxes flat inside, and they are wrapped around with a ribbon:

 

And a final protective 'envelope' : one to slip the ” Envelope” case inside, made of indigo and rust printed cotton and linen; free motion stitched label.

 

Next time: A look at some of the envelopes and their enclosures!

And maybe some Philip Taafe ( I must stop making that promise…the truth is that I took some photos at the gallery where his show took place but have not received permission to use them…so until I do….I did write and ask for permissiom at the gallery but the answer I received was not clearly a YES or a NO…so I have to clarify…I do believe an artist has the right to the work being represented by images that he or she wants so I cannot go barging ahead to publish my own little snapshots without a clear OK…But if I cannot use my own photos, I know I can use theirs)

And thank you once again to Kit Tyrrell who, through her amazing kindness, provided me with the necessary instructions for this interesting and challenging bookbinding project

Wendy

 

Snow Comes To The Kaleyard

Winter means art indoors and the studio is my refuge. For natural dyeing and eco printing, I use my stash of dried plants, dye powders and whatever fresh plant materials I can find in the fridge or a florist bouquet. The first snow in the kaleyard this year sent me scuttling about to bring in one of my Potted Plant Pets that, forgetful gardener that I am, I had neglected all summer and fall. Out of sight, out of mind: it was hidden, pot and all, by the huge foliage of that Monster Kale. Si when the vernight temperature fell to about two degrees, that was curtains for the leaves on the indigo (Indigofera tinctoria).

I had started the seeds indoors in March and set out the largest plant In a pot after the last frost in late May.The indigo looked like this (below) in June beside the Kale Monster; by November, it was hidden completely by the dinosaur kale.

Let us see if the now-leafless indigo pet will revive. More below on this indigo and its gifts to the dyer.

Meantime, I did manage to bring in the Japanese indigo (Persicaria tinctoria) and pot it up for overwintering. This type of indigo also yields blue pigment so I have dried several batches of leaves to try winter vat-making. In the past, I have found that the plants will set seed in their pots and produce seedlings in late winter. But for good measure I have saved seeds this year. One of my dyer friends here in Ottawa says she even finds seedlings in her compost in spring! That is a plant with a huge will to survive, even if with a reputation for short seed viability.

Here are the leaves of Japanese indigo, dried after the first of three harvests this year:

 

And here are some dye results on silk velvet, post-dyeing and pre-eco printing ( Those little brown pebbley things that look like critter poo are, in fact, dried tansy buttons.)

The blues I obtained (above) from my first-ever Japanese indigo vat are, as you can see, on the turquoise side of blue.

Later in the year ( when I am back from January in Brooklyn where our youngest is about to have her first baby) I will have a go with a vat using dried the Persicaria tinctoria but likely not before February.

On to dyeing with other indigo now – the Indigofera tinctorIa. I am chiefly interested in using this indigo for my Artist Books. My current focus is, as you might know by now, Artist Books made with and about native plants, the Medium being the Message in my approach to the work.

But I am not so granola that I shun non-native plants like European kale, Japanese indigo and indigo (probably) from India. We are all strangers and sojourners on this earth, are we not? And we likely come from somewhere else, and will end up somewhere else again, more than likely. I am from Orkney, as it happens, but live now in Ottawa, Canada, via Liverpool in England. Green Immigrants have a valued place in my garden; potted, they are Plant Pets; they will always find a place in my repertoire as a dye artist even if native plants are my garden focus. We have transplantation, translation and removal in common, and the search for where to put down roots, scatter seeds and lay one's head.

Indigo paper has an interesting history in the book and paper arts, too. ( A discourse on that topic will follow at another time, dear Reader! ) Indigo papers will be a fine little Rabbit Hole for me to disappear down with my pre-reduced indigo, taking along rust and black tea leaves as companions, plus some others (like beeswax) to sustain and surprise us on the journey.

Feeling connections to the traditional use of indigo for colouring papers of various qualities and types, especially for the express purpose of hiding imperfections, I have begun to accumulate indigo-and-rust dyed materials to create a series of Artist Books, with tea leaves for tannins to blacken the rust. And some beeswax to trap the rust, like insects in amber. And dye and wax to cover over many things, like the mold on paper left too long soaking in alum water…And, O that divine blue and orange combo, the Impressionist painter's expressive colour gift to humanity and art history.

To get the blue markings, I dipped, painted, sprinkled, splashed the dye and scattered crystal before eco printing it with the rust and tea on watercolour paper. I dissolved pre- reduced indigo crystals in water (no chemicals added) and also scattered crystals on the pages to be eco printed as usual by steaming. To get the rust, I laid on flat bits of metals and soaked the metals and the paper in white vinegar befor steaming. (You can skip the steaming step if you are OK waiting a day or so for the rust to print. The hot steam simply accelerates the process. And the indigo needs no steaming, either. But if you want tannins to react with the rust, and you'd like marks from the tea leaves, then steam the stack or bundle as I did with tea leaves scattered on) Some examples:

Here is a batch of indigo, rust and tea prints on paper:

 

 

 

The dark marks in this one are from molds on composted papers:

 

 

 

And here is some linen printed with indigo, rust and tea: this will become book cloth.

 

 

This (below) is what happens when you scatter the indigo crystals on top of paper and plants for eco printing; logwood and madder powders are scattered in there, too, on top of mold marks and rust. I showed my friend, Gayle, how to do this and this was her result at my studio:

 

Finally for this post: some Artist Books, including work from a bookbinding workshop offered by the generous Genevieve Samson, medieval book conservator at Archives Canada and CBBAG member. Longstitch binding: the white one is mine, the next two are Gen's demo books, the coptic binding is by Gayle Quick of CBBAG and the blue and white on the bottom of the stack is a canvas wrapper I painted with acrylics.

 

Next time: more books, more indigo and some painted chair covers

 

Blessings on your day, dear Reader. Thank you and welcome to all the new folks who have joined the blog since last post.

 

Wendy

 

Works In Progress

Summer Solstice is fast approaching and my garden is almost ready to meet the longest day of the year! It has been a month (and some! ) of long days for me in the new garden. For what is an eco printmaker and dyer without her plants? It was a matter of the utmost urgency for me to rearrange the existing botanicals at least by the solstice so that eco dyeing and printing could resume…With the addition of some new plants and a few transplants from my old garden (though, sadly, most died in the harsh winter 2013 – 2014) I am almost there! So here are some pics of the garden, back and front, and the progress to date.

The front garden from the porch.

The specimen red Japanese maple (an eco dyer's delight) is underplanted with various shade lovers moved from the back garden which became suddenly very sunny due to the over-winter demise of a sugar maple. No more grass, just pea gravel now with field stones plus brick edging that will disappear from sight as the edging plants (for example: geranium, thyme, dianthus) grow in:

 

 

Along the sunny fence, I have planted old favourite cottage perennials, many of which give colour in the eco dye pot. More are to be added, like tansy and goldenrod.

 

 

Ferns, Solomon's seal, Siberian iris, daylilies, hostas, lupins, mint, variagated weigela and dogwood:

 

Before I made it my own, the gardens back and front were already rich with interesting native plants like Eastern cedars, Bloodroot, American smokebush (Cotinus obovatus) redberried elder, wood poppy, ostrich ferns, American bittersweet, goatsbeard, virgin's bower clematis, Virginia creeper. But as you know, one thing always leads to another in a garden (Didn't Adam and Eve set us some examples?) First, the mature sugar maple that died rendered areas of the back garden inhospitable to some shade plants. Then, installing a walkway in the front occasioned the transplanting of three mature evergreens- two yews and an Alberta spruce – which I couid not bring myself to chop down…We will see if they survive among other native plants installed along the shady perimeters of the back yard. Some images:

In the back, a native prairie grass, big bluestem, with rocks and vessel to break up the gravel “lawn”

 

Natives along the back fence: Pagoda dogwood shrub (back left) and Joe Pye weed (centre right) with fave green immigrants greater celandine (back right), sweet woodruff (under the dogwood) and hostas (foreground). I have planted the native celandine (aka wood poppy) elsewhere in the woodland area.

 

Native serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea or laevis, not sure which…the tag said A. canadensis but that is a cop-out name…)

 

Ostrich fern, Black Chokeberry(L), Solomon’s Seal and American smokebush(R), natives all.

 

Wonderful native sumac, Rhus typhina. With iron bedstead as Sugar Snap pea support and as eco print assistant later this summer…TBD!

 

The loud purple smokebush, brash and brazen, wonderful hybrid, fronted by enormous bloodroot, a native dye plant. Set beside Shlomo's garden candelabra, hand-wrought iron.

 

The Black Chokeberry in bloom, early May, beside red-twigged dogwood. Shade-loving natives. And another iron sculpture by Shlomo, “Peony” .

 

The greater celandine, green immigrant, which gives lovely greens and oranges when smooshed onto paper:

 

Smooshed thus:

 

In May, before some plants in this area were transplanted to the front garden. The whole candelabra – sculpture by Shlomo. The bedstead was garbage-picked.

 

“Canadian Pioneer” sculpture by Shlomo in the “woodland” garden of native plants alongside a few respectable green immigrants. (I am into native plant gardening but am no purist…Live and let live, in life, in gardens and in art, say I …Am I not also an immigrant, a stranger and a sojourner on this earth? )

 

Now for a little Non Native Gardening: I am growing these in pots for now:

Woad. Weld. Indigo. Japanese Indigo.

Just because. Reports later in the season!

 

 

This is the Persicaria tinctoria (Japanese indigo) in planters:

 

Native baptisia australis, AKA Rattlebush because the seed pods rattle when drying. This plant fixes nitrogen in the soil. I have put a weedy “Northern Lights” (bright orange blooms!)azalea close by to fatten her up…

 

Pods:

 

Coreopsis verticillata. Red dye from every part. Not the prairie version which is a native but a respectable relative. This image shows all that survived the Winter From Hell in Ottawa:

 

A hybrid of the threadleaf coreopsis above, in the front garden, too.

 

 

Good old tagetes, red, orange, yellow from the blooms and green from leaves and calix.

 

Precious wee pansies, even if they are not real Johnny-Jump-Ups. Blues and teals and turquoises in the dye pot.

 

Foxgloves and chives. Not sure about these in th dye pot…foxglove is risky!

 

Hybrid chartreuse sumac as companion to the red Japanese maple. Colour in the dye pot: TBD

 

Siberian iris (blue and green dyes) with pollinator plant, Canada thistle (L). Not natives but useful – to me…

 

Ostrich ferns, black chokeberry, Solomon’s Seal and smokebush, all natives. All eco-printable.

 

Sumac in June…growing nicely!

 

Red-painted bamboo poles as climbing supports for Hubbard squash in pots: nicely tied with copper wire by Shlomo (copper thrifted from a cable)

. Expecting the squash will cover the pergola while we are waiting for the grape vine and arctic kiwi to grow.

 

And after all this art in the garden what about art in your dye pot or at the printing press or at your bookbinder's bench, you may be asking.

This collagraph plate is part of my new series about a venerable elm that stood near my old house. I have collected photos of that elm for over 30 years. So now I have another way to say goodbye to our old home.

 

The “Elm” test print on eco printed paper:

 

Another collagraph plate created from some of my super-textured embroideries:

 

A third plate, also an “Elm” collagraph plate, yet to be proofed and printed. Report later. It has a kind of Wuthering Heights look to it, all windblown and broken…

Some of the prints from these plates will be on exhibit in July at the gallery associated with my printmakers’' group. Report later.

Next, on the topic of book arts:

“Unbound/Debride” is an exhibit of books and boxes by the Ottawa Valley chapter of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, held at the gallery of the lovely City of Ottawa Archives building.

Here are my eco printed box (L) and Shlomo's “El Anatsui” box (R)' with works by our colleagues Maggie McGovern (front), Paul Champion Demers (R), Beatrice Lourtioux (centre) and Holly Dean (back)

 

A funky selection: Genevieve Samson (L front) , Spike Minogue (L back), Shlomo (centre), Madeleine Rousseau (R) and Holly Dean (top). (This book by Holly appears in my article about book arts in the current issue of Fiber Art Now. See below)

 

My eco printed box and book with a coptic-bound, wooden-cover book by Paul Champion Demers:

 

The poster for the show:

 

Finally for this post, I mention two of my articles recently published: one about eco dyeing (with tutorial) in the current issue of the UK Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers and one featuring Canadian book artists in the current Fiber Art Now.

The work of Sandra Brownlee (winner of the 2014 Governor General of Canada award), Martha Cole, Holly Dean and myself appears in Fiber Art Now.

 

Happy gardening! It is a great joy. And it entails many other joys.

 

Wendy

 

Blooms, Books and Bylines

Gardening season is finally upon us here in the Frozen North, still only barely unfrozen

I am spending most of my daylight hours sorting my new garden and contemplating my options for a redesign that features native plants suitable for eco dyeing and printing. I am actively researching so more plant info will be coming soon!

Meantime, here is what I have been up to since last blog entry: eco printing in the microwave, book binding, writing articles for magazines and painting. And a little Studio Dec.

I have installed a new feature in my new, pared-down studio space: artworks display shelving made from a recycled kitchen cupboard. So instead of hiding my artworks under the bed, I can place them where I see them each time I enter the studio. I will try to change the display monthly.

 

The box and the book (top right) are by my Shlomo who also belongs to CBBAG, the Canadian Book Artists and Book Binders Guild. He also printed the maple leaf which I cut out, holes and all. The little blue HotWheels was snuck in by Dylan, our grandson for he considers no surface well dressed unless HotWheeled (or Lego'd). Completing the vignette is a dish of vintage glass African trade beads beside an Indian printing block from Rajastan where Hannah (the Bride of two years ago) was on a work assigment earlier this year. The rest are my efforts in various media, both current and older.

For example, on display (middle shelf) is my first eco print of this season. For this first print. I tried a method other than long steaming in a pot on the stove. For plant colour, I used Icicle Pansies from pots in the garden and red geraniums from pots in the house. I deadheaded the plants, rinsed the blooms, put them (wet) between sheets of watercolour paper, zapped the package in the micro for ten seconds inside a plastic bag (the watercolour paper was first quickly dipped in alum acetate water), then I pressed the little stack overnight under weights. BTW, see my Reference page for info about eco dyeing in the microwave, in particular, in an article by Karen Leigh Casselman, teacher to India Flint, and Canadian Diva of Dyes.

A wonderful range of blues and greens appeared from the pansies with deep magenta and rich lilac from the bright red geraniums (pelargoniums):

 

 

These colours recall the blue iris prints I made last June. Note how a face colour (e.g. blue) present in the plant can separate into constituent colours as a result of the eco print process.

 

This purple from the pelargonium is abundant and compelling even without the other colours leaking through from the pansies:

 

The eco printed work below was done last summer, 2013. Coreopsis verticillata- and sumac-printed papers were used to cover a box made for a box exchange at our last CBBAG meeting. I enjoyed making the closures! Linen thread, crocheted to make a loop, and printed watercolour paper, rolled, to make a bead.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Bookbinding workshops again this spring! The April workshop was about Secret Belgian binding. We used the papers our instructor provided – some were lovely, handmarbled sheets. Yellow is so Spring!

 

 

 

 

Finally for this post are three references to articles I have written since January about eco printing and Artist Books.

You can read my article about eco printing with native plants in the winter issue of the Turkey Red Journal, another article on more or less the same topic in The Journal For Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (U.K.) in the summer 2014 issue, and a third article (on Artists' Books) in the summer issue of Fiber Art Now magazine (U.S.) (See below for the web links). The Turkey Red Journal is free for readers and available online. The other two are paper publications and are on sale as subscriptions and/or on newstands. Fiber Art Now pays a modest stipend for articles published while the other two magazines rely on volunteers.

And here is a little painting distraction that I permitted myself this winter. I glued watercolour papers to the inside covers of the binder that houses copies of articles I have written for various publications. I then painted the papers with my personal logo, a figleaf. (The Bible refers to Adam and Eve sewing clothes for themselves out of figleaves when they lost Paradise. Threadwork and plants are thus mythically and perhaps spiritually connected)

Inside front cover:

Inside back cover:

 

Article references:

http://www.turkeyredjournal.com

http://www.thejournalforwsd.org.uk

http://www.fiberartnow.net

 

Until next time! I will report on the CBBAG show of Artist Books at the City of Ottawa Archives (April, May and June) Several of my Artist Books are in the show, including those made in Italy at the Arte Studio Ginestrelle residency last October.

Wendy

 

I stART the year..

…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

 

More ecoprints on paper from plants of the Subasio

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