Friday 30 March 2012

temporarily closed for maintenance

i'm having a computer free weekend
temporarily closed
for spiritual maintenance

and besides
there's work to be done
back next month

Any way you slice it, today’s world is going to ask for everything you can give.
Make your first priority your own well-being if only to serve the greater good.
--Martha Beck- Insight from Martha-A Resting Revolution


Tuesday 27 March 2012

thank you, all of you!

it was a joy to read your musings on the provenance of the string, thank you.
Annette Sibson [in the comments] and Trace Willans [by personal email] correctly named the substance the string had been twined from.

a teabag.

more appropriately, a Twining[s] tea bag.

so today two parcels will be winging their way - a piece of Milkymerino TM for each to dye as they see fit
- and no, for those of you about to ask, i have no idea at all when, if ever, that gorgeous fabric will be available for purchase. last i heard the mill was to be churning it out in March 2011. it's now 2012.
if i hear anything, be sure i shall spread the word!

meanwhile back to the matter at hand. we didn't quite reach the magical 900 in the matter of followers, so the random hat-based lucky dip is still pending.

but the story that touched me most - and let me tell you each one was lovely - was that written by Morna Crites-Moore

here it is in case you missed it.

Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves. (Humbert Wolfe)
A Story by a Follower about a Wanderer
There was a little girl who lived in the woods and drank tea every day. If she was ill, she drank tea to feel better. If she was cranky, she drank tea to soothe her soul. If she was happy, she drank tea with a friend and shared her happiness along with her tea leaves. She had teas for waking up, going to sleep, purifying her innards, and decorating her outers. It seemed that she had special preparations of tea leaves for almost every possible occasion. When she created a particular recipe of herbs and spices and various tea leaves (collected on her many journeys), she would bundle the ingredients into a little pouch she made herself, usually from paper she created from the fibers she found while traveling in the woods of the world. She would fold her papers in special ways, so as to make them into safe packages for keeping her many teas. She loved her unique tea bundles and treated them as well as darling, albeit inanimate, pets. She stored the bundles in special tins and dark crystal vessels, with whimsical lids made of copper and silver and brass and encrusted with all manner of tiny treasures she found on her travels through her own particular patch of woods. She twisted vines into marvelous shelves to give her teas a proper home and when she made her special brews, she always sang to her tea leaves as they steeped.
This little tea loving girl had a proper name but nobody used it and in time nobody even remembered it, least of all her. This was because everybody had called her “Birdie” since forever, or so it seemed. There were many theories regarding how she came to be called Birdie. Maybe it was because she seemed to hop and flit as she went about her daily chores. Or it could have been because she loved to travel the woods of the world and would visit faraway places, often for very long stretches of time, yet she always found her way back home. Perhaps it was because of her sweet, chirpy little voice and her lovely melodies which she sang wherever she went. Nobody knows and truly, what does it really matter, except that it provides for interesting speculation on a lazy afternoon when one has not much else to think about. Although, come to think of it, when have you ever had an afternoon with nothing to think about?
When Birdie prepared for one of her voyages, she always gave careful consideration to which teas she would bring along. Having made her choices, she would create special little bags for her teas, much the same as her tea bundles, except smaller so that each bag contained enough tea for just one cup. She wrote the names of each tea on little scraps of fiber and then attached the little name tags to the teabags with lengths of her silky hair. Thus she made her tea wonderfully portable and she always knew which little tea bag contained “Sleepy Tea” and which contained “Friendly Tea” and so forth. On the road, after using a bag for brewing, she would let it dry and then she would write on its little tag a note to herself to remember where she had sipped it, such as “nestled in the branches of the big tree at the top of Nature’s Path” or “at the cabin next to the spring where I drank the delicious water.”  She would store the spent tea bags in her much-used satchel (the one with the handles made from carved branches that had fallen in the woods) which she carried with her on trips, expressly for this purpose.
Once Birdie returned home she would set aside a day to take care of all her used tea bags. First she would remove all the tags and add them to a special collage she made in a never-ending fashion, to serve as a remembrance of the many places she had visited. She would set aside the wisps of hair, to be strewn about her yard for the birds to use when making their nests. She would carefully unfold the paper packets and shake the tiny tea leaves into a storage bin, for they were useful in many ways – as filling for a tiny cushion, to sprinkle on a fire for added aroma, steeped further to make a gentle dye, and so on. Finally, she would smooth out the little pieces of paper which were left behind and pile them up into a pretty little stack which she added to all the other little paper stacks which she kept in the big cupboard her grandmother had brought when the family first came to this particular patch of the woods.
Birdie lived a wonderful life, caring for her woods and exploring the world. But one day it became quite clear that Birdie was no longer a little girl. In fact she had become a very elderly little woman and her distant travels were now confined to Memory Lane. She would sit in her favorite chair and drink teas with names like “Good for the Bones” or “Soothes the Joints.” She was quite content with her quiet life and though she could no longer go on great journeys, she still enjoyed wandering in her particular patch of the woods, collecting bits of this and pieces of that, for adorning the frame which surrounded her very large and wonderful travel collage. It was on a day when Birdie was gazing at her collage and allowing it to brew memories in her mind, that she decided it was getting to be time to give back to the woods of the world, while she was still able to get about and do as she pleased.
It was autumn and the winds were swirling about, causing the leaves to dance in circles. The air carried the scent of the clouds and grew brisk as the tree branches grew bare. It was, Birdie decided, the perfect day for her final mission. She brewed herself a cup of “All Corners of the Woods” tea and sat drinking it, next to her wood stove, sitting in her favorite chair. The tea warmed her and enlivened her with just the spirit she needed to embark upon her special errand. She went to Sweetie’s big cupboard - Sweetie being the name by which her grandmother had been known, ever since Birdie had been a wee toddler and allowed to sip from Grandmother’s cup of “sweet tea” - and she retrieved the stacks of teabag papers which had accumulated in great numbers over the many years she had been saving them. She put the papers into her satchel, handful after handful until she could fit no more, which turned out to be perfect as when she was done there was not a single teabag paper left behind.
Birdie wrapped a shawl about her frail shoulders, picked up her bulging satchel, and ventured into the glorious autumn afternoon. She walked a bit, through her lovely woods, recognizing the trees as old friends. Eventually she found herself high on a hill,  at the top of Nature’s Path. The big tree which had lived there since forever, or so it seemed, had dropped most of its leaves and they lay on the ground, fluttering about as the light winds stirred them. Birdie stood still, hunched over with age, and listened for the rising wind. As the wind grew in strength and the leaves swirled about in ever higher and higher spirals of joy, Birdie flung open her satchel and set free all her tiny pieces of tea paper. She watched as the wind picked them up and carried them off to all the corners of all the woods of the world. Then she shuffled her way back to her tiny cottage and sat in her favorite chair, next to the wood stove by Sweetie’s cupboard. And she smiled because she knew her memories would become windfall in a distant wood where they would be gathered by a woman who wandered the world.
And that, my dears, is the provenance of the tea bags which became India’s string.

 her parcel is winging its way across the Big Pond. i hope she likes the contents.

a sortiment

there are various tasks skittering about on my plate at present
it's been a challenging summer in many ways
i won't elaborate, enough to say that
a thing happened that should never have happened
leaving a big hole and deep sadness [not looking for sympathy, just setting the scene] 
while other things became submersed in the overwhelming tide

on the bright side
residents of the Mt Pleasant District will be pleased to know i have finally this week made a start on cutting the hay that is flourishing in what used to be my garden

one of the several [other] things i have been procrastinating about
is the writing of an article for a German magazine
in the German language.
whilst skirting about the issue and nibbling at the edges i stumbled upon Mark Twain's analysis of the German Language.
i'm still chuckling.

in the event you would care to join me in my mirth
feel free to click on this link
it's at least a teapot's worth of tea in terms of reading time
perhaps even something stronger

and before anyone begins to accuse me of anti-Teutonic tendencies
kindly remember German is my first language [so i am allowed to make fun of it]
and forgive my broken English, i learned it at Kindergarten in Melbourne when i was 4 .

in other news, you could have knocked me down with a feather yesterday
when MyTallest asked me whether he might use a dyepot

turned out he wished to add camouflage tones to his old TaeKwonDo trousies
in order that he might more successfully sneak up on rabbits
whose population is presently reaching over-abundance [three rabbits, three years, three million is the accepted prognosis]

Eucalyptus maculata + rust from an old bore pipe on un-mordanted cotton, not bad for a beginner. i believe he's planning to overdye with onionskins next, to give things a slightly dustier aspect.

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Sunday 25 March 2012

a splendour of stories

i was rummaging about in the sewing room this afternoon
rustling up a few things and enjoying the luxury of thinking about nothing in particular
when suddenly
various collective nouns began to worm their way into the vacant lot between my ears


a proliferation of pincushions

a bounty of buttons

a confection of crackles

and then of course a splendour of stories. or a string of splendid stories. or a splendid string of stories

it's been a delight to read your contributions...both in the comments and some sent privately.
i thank you all.

the call for contributions will close at 12 noon South Australian time on March 26 [that's tomorrow, seen from where i'm standing]

so if you haven't composed something yet there is still time to string me a story

Tuesday 20 March 2012

string me a story

this morning i made a piece of string

quite fine. shown here alongside some grey-dyed #5 silk/cotton from Beautiful Silks to give an idea of scale [the string is on the right]

and it occurred to me there might be some fun in it.

i'll offer a [sur]prize to the first person who can guess what the string is made of
another to the follower [ie i'd like you to sign up to follow this blog if you don't already] who writes me the most exciting/amusing story about its possible provenance

and if i get lucky and build to the magical number of 900 followers, there'll be a third present randomly drawn...

you've got until the weekend ie Sunday 25th March if you're in yesterdayland on the other side of the Pacific or Monday 26th March if you live on this side of the international dateline. my European friends will have to do the complex math themselves to see where they fit in...

Saturday 17 March 2012

in Sydney and looking for something to do?

if you're at a loose end in Sydney in the next few weeks
you might like to swing by

where you'll find some of my work
in and around the fine furniture that Ross Longmuir designs and shows there


Thursday 15 March 2012

muttering in the stalls about nothing in particular

i like to ponder the meaning of words
is derived from 'australis'
which [more or less] means 'southern' or 'of south'

i quite often like to sign off on an email with
"blah blah [insert something warm and friendly] from the Deep South"
because i live in South Australia
which is kinda 'SouthSouth' if you think about it

which led me to thinking about things i like about the South
not just our South
but also the South of the North
[may be getting a tad confusing here]

and wondering "what if what the others think is on the bottom of the whirled is really on the top?" after all, we're not exactly falling off.

we have excellent wine [even the cheap stuff is quite good]
wonderful blue skies
the scent of eucalyptus and
the Southern Ocean

as well as some of the best chocolate on the planet
[which is so far as we know the ONLY planet with chocolate and therefore extra special]

the other south has extremely delicious food
and also
Alabama Chanin
not to mention lovely New Orleans, where i will be spending the month of November this year

today i worked on a sample of something a little out of the ordinary for me
some paper and cloth that might expand into my project for the month that i'll be working with NOCCA
we'll see. i'll set it aside for a week or two and see if it's still singing to me when i look at it again...

Wednesday 14 March 2012

shifu...cloth from paper

beyond being a store name in St Kilda
[the Shifu Dumpling Express]
it seems to me that shifu isn't much known of in Australia

as the Kawashima Textile School [Japan] describes it
Shifu is a woven cloth produced from paper yarn spun from Washi
it's a craft that has its roots in the 7th century

i first ran my fingers over a piece of this wonderful cloth
when Hiroko Karuno kindly visited with me in Toronto
a few summers ago

and then again when i visited with Velma Bolyard
in upstate New York last year
- she even let me beat an indigo leaf
into one of her precious pieces

Velma makes paper cloth beginning with the harvesting of plants
processing them to paper pulp
makes the paper
spins thread
and weaves the cloth. it's exquisite. 

so i was very excited when i read
that Velma plans to visit Australia
in June this year. it's a splendid opportunity for down-underers to learn about this craft [otherwise we'd have to travel to Japan, which is of course lovely if you can speak Japanese, but not within the reach of most!]

she's giving a class at the Natural Dye Symposium 
being hosted by Beautiful Silks
if you're quick
you might get a place.

i've signed on for a couple of classes [Velma's shifu and also Trace Willans class]
it's a great initiative
gathering together a bunch of natural dye enthusiasts
in a city like Melbourne [when you're there, make sure to visit the forest inside the museum]

but enough idle chatter.
images below were kindly supplied to me by Velma

and a little off topic but found while trawling the net and putting together this page
a marvellous exhibition concept entitled "why bother"
worth a look.

Sunday 11 March 2012

stardust and stabbings

stardust has been replaying on constant loop
in my head all day
after hearing a wonderful version
played by Paul Williamson [and the rest of the Gianni Marinucci Swing Train]
at the Paris Cat last night

thanks gentlemen, it was a splendid night.

and for those of you who expect dye stories here
i do have one.

a vicious needle bit my finger 
and drew rather a lot of blood
in the spirit of waste-not-want-not
i bundled a leaf into the cloth i used to mop the blot

blood proved its worth not only as mordant
but also as adhesive
the leaf [bougainvillea] stuck firmly top the bloodstain
but not to the rest of the cloth

Saturday 10 March 2012

updated website [partially]

just letting kindly readers know i've added to the workshops page on my website...
contact details are now in place for two new classes added to this year's wanderings

at Taree in New South Wales


my first ever class in California.
we'll be dyeing cloth and paper 
working on a Wayfarer's Wanderbook
in a private studio/garden in Santa Barbara

on the edge of one continent
and then
on the other edge
another one

Thursday 8 March 2012

riverstitch revisited

i had  a truly joyous moment today

Audrey Fittall [one of the lovely group of Riverstitchers] swung by Beautiful Silks after class today and showed us all her delightful dress
begun in Goolwa
and completed with a dye-baptism last weekend.

it's truly delicious.

correspondence and advice

correspondence received this morning.
minus identifying appellations but otherwise unharmed.

On Mar 08, 2012, at 03:13 AM, *****  <*******> wrote:

Dear Ms Flint,

My name is ***** and I am an A2 textile student studying in the UK. I am currently doing a project on time and change, where I am representing how life is becoming so modernised and so I am mainly taking the influence of old style artwork.

I was particularly drawn to your work as the colour combinations in some peices, such as the browns, greys, blacks and oranges create an effect I am attempting to achieve myself.

Therefore I was wondering if you may be able to offer me some advice on how you create your particular patterns and textures, or the materials that work best. If you have the chance any advice would come in very useful.

Thank you for your time.

Yours sincerly,



Dear ******

than you for your enquiry. I have published two books which comprehensively answer the questions you have posed so forgive me if i don't retype the text here.

Eco Colour [Murdoch Books 2008] discusses dyes in depth, Second Skin [Murdoch Books 2011] investigates the provenance and prospects of cloth and clothing.



Wednesday 7 March 2012

a quiet and mindful day at school

today i was allowed to tell stories
to a lovely grade 2 class
they were very attentive
had very clean shoes

we windfall-walked in the classroom to music
and later took our bundles out into the whirled
so we could gaze at them before we string-wrangled them open

apologies to the school cleaner
we left rather a mess on the carpet

this was a sample
brewed in the trusty travelling pot
to show how two simple ingredients
[used] teabags and onion shells
- considered rubbish by most
can together produce rather lovely colour

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world...

well perhaps not quite

but close.

think about it
what are the odds
that if two people fly into a city [where there are at least three million other people]

from quite different ports [one to the West and the other a long way to the East]
and one of them has never been there before
and they are staying at practically opposite ends of the city

that the two of them will bump into each other in a supermarket while buying nuts and seeds

we did.

well i never

i'm lurking in the Qantas lounge
on the way to Melbourne
where i will meet my buddy who has flown all the way from New Hampshire
to come and play at Beautiful Silks

i thought i'd use my waiting time to update my website
some electronic "nanny device" called "evolvesecurity"
has apparently decided it is off limits.

here's what it says

ridiculous. so i guess, seeing as i constitute a threat to something/someone
i won't be updating the workshops page just yet

 and i won't be subscribing to Optus anytime soon , either.

Monday 5 March 2012

on solitude

a very good friend of mine
whom i treasure
and with whom i can share roadtrips
be quietly working, two people alone in shared space
alerted me to this TED talk by Susan Cain

i've watched it a couple of times now
and thought it was time to share

Saturday 3 March 2012

finger's x'd

as some of you may have noticed
when i give a talk these days i like to have a surprise
to wake people up when i've run out of words

next week i'm spending a day with a group of primary school children
and while i know that magic of some kind will always happen
[nods respectfully to the Dogs Above]
it's as well to be prepared

as well as the usual windfalls
there's something else hidden in this bundled shawl
tucked into a pocket
[my little grandma always had pockets in her shawls]

 it's a bit lumpy
 so fingers crossed
 that bundle is tied tightly enough

otherwise the Dogs Above [and probably the Cats as well]
will be giggling into their whiskers

Friday 2 March 2012

learning and discovering with Martha

i'm doing my tax.*
Martha is helping.

i'm discovering a lot of things
in the large cardboard carton full of receipts that has prime position in the middle of my room

+ 3 lost postcards acquired at the V&A last year
+ a missing sock [luckily not one of my woollies, the moths would have eaten it]
+ a cone of cream-coloured wool [the moths DID find that]
+ 2 purse-sized Aesop sample packs [yum]
+ a quarter [the American kind]
+ several [well, understatement] dried leaves of assorted provenance
+ some pictures of lovely dresses torn from a magazine
+ a handful of my favourite #5 stitching thread
+ quite a few sewing needles [stuck into various receipts] including my nice Japanese one
and as a bonus from the Dogs Above, $200 in cash tucked into one of those foldy baggie thingies that are such a delight to make
and as an extra bonus, the journal from the West Coast trip that The Precious and i took on the way home in 2010 [i'd been searching for that!]

so virtue is being rather rewarding

still, it's sobering, once the figures are stacked up, to realise that after travel expenses my earnings are less than those of the cleaner at the Mount Pleasant Hospital

on the other hand
i know who's having more fun...

so i had better stop procrastinating. and get back to it.

*sorry there's no embeddable code for this video, but it's WELL worth watching.