Friday, April 20, 2012

Mountain basketeering

I started the second Contextart workshop here in the Blue Mountains on Monday, and it finished today.  The tutors were Wendy Golden  and Jim Walliss, both with many years of basketry and teaching experience, and they not only generously shared their knowledge and skills with us, but were endlessly patient as well.  For me, it was a week of steep learning curves, and widely contrasting emotions, including tossing the basket across the verandah in frustration, a little foot stamping, and some rude words directed at the offending well as excitement and a sense of accomplishment when I "got it".   Most of the participants felt the same I think. The learning experience wasn't helped by very cold wet weather mid week, but the sun came out for us yesterday and today, and it finally felt like it was coming together for us by yesterday afternoon.

We started the week with some muehlenbeckia, a native creeper that we had to free form into whatever shape we wanted, or could manage....this definitely wasn't my forte, and neither of these finished forms are mine, which ended up looking like an Amazon's breastplate, and went back into the bundle for common use!

Day 2 we learnt to make a nice flate base of cane, and learning the techniques to build our basket, and shape it, gradually building up the sides.

 This is small, about 4 inches tall and is made up of cumbungi, a flat rush, tall spike rush, and finished with coloured cane.  I enjoyed making this, and found it easy to get into a weaving/twining rhythm. 

But then came the challenge...The Melon Basket!! 

Framework of twisted vines and cane with twining begun.

This is where I'm up to......this is a mixture of watsonia, meuhlenbeckia, banana, spike rush and the dark section I'm still weaving is gymea lily.

Busy Basketeers!

I'll have a quiet weekend now with my son and his partner, before heading off to Adelaide to meet up with a friend and some more holiday fun.

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dyeing in the Blue Mountains

I've been absent for a while as I was busy getting ready and organised to leave home for 3 weeks.
Katoomba sunset, looking down Megalong Valley

I've been staying with my son and his Katoomba while I'm attending workshops at the Blue Mountains Contextart Art Forum, held at the Korowal School in Hazelbrook.  Being able to enjoy these beautiful surroundings and spend time in the extensive gardens was a bonus of the workshops

Over the weekend I did eco-dyeing using plant material from the nearby bush, with Kirsten Ingmar and Trace Willans.  They have very different methods, but both were great tutors and I had good fun, made some lovely new friends..........hello Pat and Christine.......and learnt a lot.  
  Pat and I collaborated on leaf dyeing this cotton tshirt by the bundling method.  Trace showed us how to use egg yolk to enhance the colour and print on cotton, by adding protein to the fabric. This would work on any cellulose fibre....linen, bamboo, rame etc.  We dyed the tshirt in a pot of mountain devil...a local native plant...mordanted with copper.  Note the green on the neckline where the dye has reacted with  perfume on the shirt.

 Back view, love that great string line pattern
 Leaf detail
Close up of string line

I didn't take photos of the bundling and wrapping process, but Trace has a great tutorial on her blog if you'd like to try it.

I did these samples using various shibori style techniques and chemical mordants in a variety of plant based dyes.

 Pole wrapped silk dyed in mountain devil, copper mordant.  It's more a green than the picture shows.
 Shibori folded raw silk, clamped and dyed between wooden blocks in bark with a copper mordant.
Silk georgette bundled with coreopsis flowers, dyed in onion skins with an alum mordant

Highlights of the two days

I'll be back again to post about the basketry workshop I'm doing all this week with Wendy Golden.