Monday 28 June 2010

goldenMoment in Nashville

honey coloured gentleman holding the door

[to me]
"excuse me Ma'am, but which tribe are you from? reason I'm askin is that myself I'm half Cherokee"

being also honey coloured, it made my day.

Sunday 27 June 2010

feltquilts at shakerag

the quiltfelt landskin class very quickly settled into a splendid
sewing circle
many stories and much laughter
we entrusted ourselves entirely to Mother Nature during both this
and the walk in the woods class held the week before
[with the exception of kudzu and nepal grass, both noxious weeds]
relied on windfalls from the woods
and a few from the kitchens
to colour our cloth
[although some eucalyptus leaves snukkled in from Florida]

no synthetic mordants were used
only leaves and water
some found metal objects [iron and copper]
and a little milk to assist with dyeing linen and cotton

bio-regional colour...

Shakerag took a gamble
inviting a gypsy from across the Big Puddle
to venture into the Tennessee woods
and teach
and the gypsy is very grateful

Friday 25 June 2010


it's been a pretty intense fortnight here at
in the Tennessee woods
two big classes
some fascinating talks by other faculty members
and interesting lectures by invited speakers
Pam Dorr [Hero Housing in Alabama]
Natalie Chanin [Alabama Chanin]
links worth investigating...
and much delight
as we play with


the Scourge of the South
and print brilliant greens...
slip on over to Christine's blog
for more details

Tuesday 22 June 2010

in between

yesterday i had a day off
so I went to Memphis
as you do
and here are some things i did for the first time

drove a Chrysler [likely also to be the last]
walked down Beale Street [and back up]
ate catfish
drank a Hurricane
helped count 127 churches along route 64

the visit was short but sweet
but i'll be back sometime...

Saturday 19 June 2010

the wonder of the woods

we wandered the woods
wrote by a cavern
drew images of plants
were told their names
and then went and made more bundles

the oak leaves were magical
as were the maples
and the maple-leaved viburnums

windfall eucalypts wandered in from Florida
and were eagerly consumed
[nil by mouth]

and in the end
we took our books back to the woods

Wednesday 16 June 2010

if you go down to the woods today...

if you go down to the woods today
you'd better not go alone
never mind the teddy bears
you'll need a friend to do "tickcheck"

insect life aside
the woods around Shakerag are very beautiful
with an amazing flora
but we're not picking
just collecting windfalls

and making delightful bundles

the first windfall walk revealed some spectacular colours
like that oak leaf print at bottom right [in the image above]

and this blue-green magic from a mystery leaf

and what about the Spanish Moss, i hear you mutter
unbundling yesterday
i discovered that what appeared to be silk
on that Japanese apron, was in fact a very clever substitute
[should have realised from the smell]
but the cotton part of the apron has taken on a gentle soft green
which doesn't reproduce well in pix

never mind. Virginia, a kind visitor to the original post
has provided this link
to someone who makes blankets from Spanish Moss
[just like in a fairytale]
and here's Virginia's blog as well

Monday 14 June 2010

more windfallen treasure

walking back from City Park in New Orleans
i found several pieces of Spanish Moss [ Tillandsia usneoides ]
in the gutter of the road
so of course
it is now in a bundle
with a very special old and mended apron from Japan
and several pieces of metal pocketed
from the railway line near the banks of the Mississippi River
[that's em ei ess ess ei ess ess ei pee pee ei]
how many i's in the Mighty Mississippi?
depends how many fish is lookin up at you

the bundle is rather bigger than my little travelling cauldron
and so is being cooked bit by bit
first from one end and then from the other

time is your friend in the dyebath
[well, i hope so]
we were quite sad to leave New Orleans
are now at Shakerag
beginning a new adventure

Saturday 12 June 2010

the good and the sad

it's fun to pootle round New Orleans
shooting from the hip with
the modern equivalent of the box brownie

every so often
something sad finds its way into the frame
these poor mules work 18 hour days
forced to trot on the hard bitumen surface
wearing steel shoes
my feet [clad in wool socks and farm boots]
are killing me after 8 days of pavement walking
[they much prefer paddocks]
so i can imagine how tired those poor mules must feel
how their legs must ache
after working that hard surface all day

how about at least getting them some rubber shoes?
surely there'd be a market for rubber horseboots
perhaps made from recycled tyres
to take some of the banging out of those poor bones

there are horses the whirled over
working long days
pulling fat tourists about
on hard roads

at least these guys seem reasonably well fed
unlike their poor skeletal cousins in India

Friday 11 June 2010

talkin through neW Orleans

converation in a thrift store on Bienville Street

how ya doin honey?
life's grand
you from these parts?
well, no
where then?
across the Big Puddle
oh. i'm not from here either. i'm from Baton Rouge
but i's lived here 40 years. you enjoying yourself here?
yes, thank you, very much
that's good, it's changed, though
this your first time in N'Orlins?
nah, was here in '83
then you know what it was like before...

Thursday 10 June 2010

walkin' through New Orleans

actually the title of the song is
'walkin to New Orleans'
but hey this is my page and i'll write what i like

wandering a block behind St Charles
in the Garden Quarter we find the Evergreen
flower shop
a curious place
that looks as though time has fallen asleep inside
the kindly proprietor insisted on making us a present
of a can of peach juice

in the vacant lot next door
only fragments of paving remain
the house succumbed to Katrina

grand houses line up little ways further along the street
suspect a black panther or two may lurk in the bushes somewhere

N'Orlins has a warm cheery surface
'hi honey, you's sure lurkin purdy today'
but we suspect a darker current simmers beneath the smiles
we speculate that plump tourists are lulled with
doctored daiquiris
before being lured away from the bright lights of Bourbon street
and cut into bite-size lumps for the 'gators
- all those alligators in the gator farms
must get sick of eating chicken all the time

in a sidestreet off Royal we find the Kitchen Witch
a fabulous bookstore harbouring
cookbooks old and new
garnished with lovely collections of things
such as these dragon cups
which remind me a little of some i once had
from my grandmother
that were consumed by the 83 fires

a while later
an emerald dragonfly flies out of the night
and into another store
blessing us with a moment of shimmering beauty

[images - except for that last one - courtesy of 'Helga' in the Camerabag app for iPhone]

Wednesday 9 June 2010

oh really?

[oder vielleicht auch nicht...] *spotted in a window on Market Street, San Francisco

i see that someone who had her first experience of eucalyptus dyes in a two day class with me last year is now teaching about them at a European Museum. Apparently she will " teach everything you need to know about how to dye with Eucalyptus"


that's a promise that i am not brave enough to make - i haven't even learned all of the botanical names of the 1000 plus species and sub-species of that miraculous genus yet
or experimented with them all individually

maybe i should sign up for the class...
or retire

Tuesday 8 June 2010

two kinds of basking

the folks above were listening to someone
those below
singing their own songs

Sunday 6 June 2010

through the looking glass and straight down the rabbit hole

i love this place
the architecture is fantastic
the city is full of amazing stairways
folks grow flowers on the sidewalk
[in Adelaide those daisies blooming in the gutter would have been
blasted firmly with a glyphosate spray long since]

you can take Toto into a store if you want
rather than leave him outside

unless he has other plans
and wants to sit in the sun on Vallejo while you get coffee at Caffe Trieste
[frankly the only coffee in town that's worth the drinking]

need a new pair of SquirrelPants? find 'em on Columbus.

not a perfect fit? alteration man will help

and there are some nice old ponies in the street

it's taking rather a toll on the shoe leather though
we seem to have covered more ground than
the car chases in Bullitt
a little slower perhaps
but with better continuity

Saturday 5 June 2010

getting misty

lovely to be back in foghornLand again
even if good coffee is hard to find

but what's alum doing on the seasoning shelf?

and who eats this?

or this?

Thursday 3 June 2010

tequila mockingbird?

scribbles might be a little sporadic over the next 5 weeks
as your scribe heads east over the Big Blue Pond
thought i'd leave you with this gem...

still [metaphorically] splashing about in the sea

The Leafy Sea Dragon Festival to be held in autumn of next year has announced a project for the event
for which they have very kindly appointed me as Artist in Residence
I'll be working together with members of the community
to create a series of plant-dyed silk flags with which we shall enliven the streets
best of all
we'll be holding a week of dyeing, followed by a lovely big sewing circle
that will fill a whole weekend
to make a big stitched cloth that will [we hope] have a little something from each person's garden bringing colour to it

more information to be had here