Sunday, 26 June 2016


how her hair moves with the light shining thru

how thru light stitches become lines, how the many armed goddess needs more lines to express this, how she is more than can be seen, how limited my talents as her creator, how we have to deal with that, how prints offer definition, how two circles lead to thoughts of a mate, how they must somehow become united, how one thing leads to another, how the title is now 'my world' 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

long day, and then some

Celebrated solstice in a very subdued manner after a long day in the office; with all the wet weather we've been having no chance of a bonfire, so Django and I went for a late evening walk along the river just on the other side of ‘our’ dike. We were accompanied by a rumbling noise in the background, on one side of the dike the temporary pumps doing what they’re supposed to do, on the river side the makeshift fountain overflowing powerfully.
It made Django jump and then he continued his usual sniffing and peeing. We walked to the water’s edge further away from the gushing and all of a sudden it was very, very quiet: no breeze, pale blue skies streaked with soft clouds, the water’s surface completely flat and calm, no other humans or dogs in our vicinity, the only sound the chirping of birds. I saw two terns flying back and forth to I assume their young as they flew towards the river empty-beaked and back to the presumed nest with something in their beaks.

I didn’t bring my phone/camera, I just wanted to be there and instead of taking pictures, just soak it all in.....before we went to bed I took this pic of the moon outside our bedroom window

a day later, you can see what I was on about
 meanwhile the larger cloth is gaining momentum, inspired by this image I found in the newspaper, this mother earth type figure is just what the piece needs; had to figure out what kind of stitches, tried back stitch, both single thread and double, didn't like that, especially not on the reverse, pulled it all out and tried washing out most of the pen markings....have to be more delicate next time drawing straight onto the fabric!

decided I liked a running stitch with two strands of embroidery thread best, with a longer stitch on one side, first pic is the reverse; the dog was sewn on using a different method as can be seen in the pics above, also his outline is a single black thread

our youngest pouring pink champagne as we celebrate his highschool diploma, a milestone!

two photo's from a walk nearby, somewhere last week; I like them so much I just had to add them.

last but not least, for those of you who are not on facebook, my mum celebrating her 82nd birthday!

Sunday, 12 June 2016


so proper dyeing then, using tara powder and alum premordanting on two previously home-dyed shirts, a vest and two virgin pieces of fabric: an oblong strip of cotton and a lacey handkerchief; all have been pre-mordanted as per instrucions found on the internet; my dyeing expeditions are becoming ever more knowledgable, although they remain rather haphazard at the best of times. To my amazement (and annoyment) I find contradictory advice on the use of the tara powder, one source whilst describing the possibilities of the powder also informs me she doesn't like to use it herself. I stick to what I am able to comprehend and end up using the following recipe:

from the Fibre Garden

Tara Powder. This is the ground seed pods* of the tropical plant Caesalpinia spinosa which are naturally high in tannins, up to 50% by dry weight. It's used as a mordant and also to make the "logwood black" dye colour.
Traditionally used mainly on cellulose fibres, as part of a premordant in combination with alum.
TO USE: weight out 15% to weight of fibre EACH of Tara powder and alum. Dissolve alum in hot water and add with water to mordant pot. Add fibre and simmer at 180-200°F for 1 hour. Remove fibre, rinse and spin out excess water. In another pot of water, add the Tara powder (put it into a nylon stocking) and simmer at 180-200°F for one hour: this can be done while the alum pot is simmering. Remove stocking, and place the fibre in the Tara solution then simmer for an hour.** Let cool, then remove fibre, spin out then wash and rinse. Fibre is now ready for dyeing and may be used fresh or dried for later.
Both spent mordant solutions may be safely disposed of down the drain (except for septic systems), or poured around garden plants that prefer acidic soil conditions.  ha I like this very much, sounds kind of perma-culturistic, not wasting what I have, although I would be introducing an alien element to the garden. As we have so much clay I'm guessing it is basically alkaline and could do with a bit of acidity.

*reading this I ask self why I didn't do more research before I went and ordered the Tara powder which has come all the way from Peru! as I think I could also have used locally sourced acorns, rich in tannin as well (is it equally high in tannins though??) grinding them and thus making my own tannin-rich solution 
** I did not simmer the tara pot on the stove, thought that too wasteful, just left it on the deck in the sun, warm enough I felt
 the woad seedlings have sprouted and grown so fast, within a week the surface has become green and I realise I must do something about them soon, as the actual plants will be huge and the pot will be overcrowded. So I have courageously moved half the seedlings into tiny pots that can be planted straight into the earth, once I'm satisfied they are strong enough to cope with snails and other garden wildlife.

as we have been enjoying some very hot and humid weather, resulting in sweaty, smelly bodies as we go about our gardening activities and whilst we could go swimming in the river which is within easy walking distance, a cool-down in our own back-yard would be most agreeable and on a whim I decided what we needed was an outdoor shower, and so it happened. 

 I absolutly adore how the handkerchief turned out, I'm not usually a lace lover, but the lightness of the piece delights me, I have nothing to add except a fitting frame; I have placed it between two perfectly sized glass panes and wil ask friend W. to make a narrow frame, much like a leaded glass window.

the other strip has some beautiful imprints, I see three dogs, one looking straight at us, the larger black one looking to our right and a tail with the rest of the dog 'hidden'
Perhaps you see even more; below the reverse, I prefer top version as the dogs are more doglike to me. The vest is still hanging out to dry. Both shirts are undergoing more dye dips....

Sunday, 5 June 2016

birds & bees in the garden

walk in gloomy woods last thursday

bumblebees are very busy in this birdhouse, they are pretty messy, or perhaps it isn't quite as messy indoors as it is on the outside; they're pretty territorial and defensive as I have most recently experienced first hand: I was drilling a shelf unit to the lean-to which itself it attached to the studio and I can only assume that the drilling tremors were cause for their watchmen to search me out as I was ruthlessly targeted and got stung just below my left eye; I never knew bumble bees could sting...there you go, serves me right for being so ignorant; luckily the swelling wasn't too bad and with a generous dollop of arnica I lived to tell the tale

 many drop dead on the path, they differ in size and I suppose in function, I don't really know that much about bees so cannot tell you more; two other birdhouses are occupied by actual bird families, on the studio wall a tomtit family and in the other box a great tit family, this box is arguably not in the best place, however it was meant as a temporary measure. By the time I did get round to screwing it back onto a wall I discovered the family had already moved in; the mums and dads are working over-time keeping the young ones fed, you can hear the chicks tweeting non-stop

 I too have been busy in the garden, as per usual several projects all at once, I won't bother you with all of them (today at least, maybe I'll change my mind later)
have sown many different kinds of seeds in the front and back garden and so far not a lot has emerged, the optimist in me recommends waiting patiently, the impatient part of me has decided more seeds need to be sown and so it was I ordered woad and tea herbs a week ago; amongst the most recent endeavours this pot with the woad seeds and in the earth just next to the new deck, on the southfacing side; fingers crossed I'll one day be using my own plants for blue dyes*....on the other side of the deck some of the tea herbs will hopefully appear one Summer morning, offering colours and scents as one sits bleary eyed sipping one's first cup of coffee. I have started another garden diary, detailing what was sown when and where; if this sounds organised do not be fooled, for many earlier attempts have petered out after initial enthusiastic beginnings
* which reminds me, I still have to find out how to use the tara powder as a mordant for plant fibres!

painting again! the eastfacing wall on our new deck; after encouragement from our eldest son and a dear friend I decided I would indeed and so bought tester pots of wall paint and several large brushes; my friend suggested I paint what I would 'normally' paint on a much smaller scale: tree dog hare bird and so it begins

 this may not look like a big deal, but it so is; I will explain, I had kind of lost interest in this large cloth, I felt uninspired and so stuck I couldn't even begin a new piece or finish anything else, all I could manage was the sewing together of the two layers....which is done now, bar a few spots; how to proceed? many ideas came and went and if I can't remember something it probably wasn't worthwhile, duh. Today I was thinking of printing with the lino cuts or drawing on it, but that just didn't feel right; all of a sudden I did see what I had to do: sketch with thread, tada, so now I know how to continue

a cool evening walk was very pleasant after a hot and humid day