Monday 2 August 2010

more pontificating [and mindful of glass houses]

this lovely piece of work, made by Matt Shapoff and borrowed from the Handeye blog
post by Abigail Doan is indeed captivating. 
i've sometimes used the odd feather as a resist with ecoprinting but 
never had results that reflect the density of the avian resist in this way

but to describe them as 'organic' is possibly misleading. blue-printing or cyanotype* involves the use of Potassium ferricyanide
certainly the chemical involved is an organic chemical as indicated by the presence of carbon [that's the big C] in its molecular formula
but it isn't organic in the sense that is generally understood
[think 'organic' vegetables]. maybe i should stop splitting hairs.

however Abigail does have an eye for the beautiful and intriguing 
visit her blog to wander further

 this process is actually not harmless despite that "no dyes are used" [see link to original article above for more detail]
Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. well, it's easy to believe that it's "organic" and other poisons aren't. moderation, knowledge, and clear headedness are required as we experiment. they are lovely, though.

  2. Thanks for posting this, India.

    I actually think that it is important to split hairs over matters like this. I intentionally used the word 'organic' in reference to the imagery itself. I was not implying that the cyanotype process itself was 'organic' or 'eco-friendly', with the exception of the solar component and perhaps reduced water consumption ala dye baths, etc.

    See my exact text, "Arrangements of dried vegetation, feathers, and other sea treasures are thoughtfully arranged on solution-treated silk and then exposed to light to create organic, blueprint-like impressions. No dyes are used in this process and the vintage glow is all solar-generated."

    I understand that the tone of my piece suggests that I am touting this project as being an eco-friendly one perhaps, but I was really trying to highlight alternative methods of textile printing that might push us away from conventional, more toxic dye methods.

    I realize that there are more eco-friendly ways to dye and imbue textiles and fiber with pigment and color. I do think that it is interesting how this artist works in harmony with the sun to create beautiful impressions from nature.

    Thank you for reading and commenting on my textile ideas ~ Abigail

  3. thank you Abigail for responding so quickly to this snippet.

    Abigail also added another comment, rather more personal in tone, which she requested not be published. i would have liked to respond to it privately however there wasn't an email address provided [and nor can i find one amongst the interpixies despite having a very solid rummage]

    I'm hoping that by publishing my response here at very least some hazy areas may be clarified for other readers as well.

    here's more or less what i wanted to say in reply

    ..."actually the glass houses bit in the post title refers to that as a writer and artist i should be careful of what i do and say...literally- don't throw stones in glass houses. it was a 'note to self' not a snipe at anyone else.

    I'm glad you took the time to respond to the post -it certainly wasn't intended as an attack on you [or the printers of silk, for that matter] more to point out the differences between people's various understandings of the word organic.
    cyanotype is scientifically speaking an 'organic' colouring process if we look at the field of what is called "organic chemistry" which is the chemistry of compounds that include carbon [also known as the chemistry of living things]
    whereas modern understanding of the word on a daily basis is a bit different.

    and i hoped that by linking to factual pages on the chemical used for the process that it might be helpful. that's all.

    i had forgotten entirely about that other meaning of organic - meaning reminiscent of nature. mea culpa.

    so I was not intending to be at all vicious".

    typed amidst tinkling shards of glass house....

  4. oh and just for the record, the 'pontificating' of the title refers to me also. Sagittarian habit of rabbiting on about subjects dear to the heart at the drop of a hat.

  5. I'm not saying anything against Abigail, as she seems to be very clear about the difference, but I am always with you, that the differences should be made clear or stay clear.
    Esp in the wide field of 'organic'/'natural'/'good' vs 'chemical'/'unnatural'/'bad' there is a lot of misunderstanding going on. (Not only in English, believe me. In German it is horrible since we don't use 'organic' or the equivalent but 'bio' - as a kind of joker for everything 'good' - I already said horrible... very unclear the whole thing)
    So keep on 'ranting' (I do, whenever I get the possibility *s*), keep on telling the differences, it is important for form a clear picture in the mind of people about what's going on.

  6. Saw your post yesterday and hesitated to write then that perhaps the author had meant to reference the imagery rather than the process when she used the word organic. Now I see that IS what she meant. I can also see how the confusion arose.

    Thanks for writing about it and posting Abigail's response.

  7. Thanks for these thoughtful clarifications, India. This is your blog, so of course, you should freely express ideas, concerns, inaccuracies about the textile realm, studio practice, and beyond.

    I just found your commentary on what I had posted on another blog to lean towards the realm of finger-pointing and the suggestion that I was trying to loosely define eco-printing (your area of expertise) in some manner.

    Your comments of:

    "however Abigail does have an eye for the beautiful and intriguing
    visit her blog to wander further"


    "*this process is actually not harmless despite that "no dyes are used" [see link to original article above for more detail]"

    I did not say that this was a harmless process and "however" implies that I was falsely giving information but that my blog is still of interest due to beauty, but perhaps not facts.

    Thank you,

    Abigail Doan

  8. oh for heavens sakes Abigail, i wasn't pointing fingers or criticizing the quality of your work/thoughts/writing/integrity

    nor am i trying to start a war of words. perhaps it's time to retreat to a cave on a mountain and keep my thoughts to myself.