Sunday, 11 November 2012
wade in the water [or maybe not]
i'm here in New Orleans as the happy guest of both NOCCA
and the kindly folk at the Joan Mitchell Center
developing work that i hope to include in my solo exhibition 'muddy waters'
opening at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery in March 2013
whilst our mighty Murray is a mere rivulet by whirled standards
it's the most significant river in Australia.
the Mississippi is America's Big Muddy and like the Murray has been used as transport system/water supply/agricultural drain/convenient disposal unit.
and water is of course a vital ingredient in making dyes from plants.
water quality [and i suspect, the invisible presence of substances such as sodium compounds] is one of the reasons it's so difficult to make a natural green dye
[unless your water is rich in either copper or calcium]
so how do i test water before i dye ? [note spelling of that last word]
i take a shower.
if the water feels slippery and makes my hair feel silky it's probably acidic *
if it feels slightly sticky it's probably alkaline *
if it feels itchy on my skin then it certainly contains dissolved salts
and your nose will be able to detect chlorine [a "colour eater"].
these are all useful things to know before you begin dyeing [again, note spelling...according to many writers i have died several times and yet, surprise, here i am still churning this earth]
water quality differs from town to town, whether reticulated as a community supply, harvested from the roof or a river
drawn from a well, which seems to be very common in rural America.
[septic tanks close by are also common. think about it]
anyway what this means is that unless your water supply and your plant supply are identical to those of the authors of all those lovely dye books that contain colour swatches alongside their recipes you are highly unlikely to achieve those exact same colours.
this is not a criticism of those pretty dye books.
merely food for thought.
and if you were wondering whether i am now going to apply my skin+water theories by immersing myself in the Mississippi
the answer is no.
* if my skin begins to dissolve then acidity/alkalinity is probably extreme and it's time to get the hell out of Dodge.