Monday 23 April 2012

making tracks

these are my besties.
wool socks knitted by Jo of Aotearoa's South Island
and nine-lives boots acquired circa 2005
that have been around the whirled a few times
and up and down a few hills
wandered along lakesides
and through quiet woods

today i picked them up from the boot hospital
aka Roberto The Cobbler who has been mending my footwear
for some thirty years, bless him

this time he sewed on a few more leather patches
gave them tough thick rubber souls
and new heels [time wounds all heels]
ready for the stairways of San Francisco
later this year

but for now
my boots and me are off for a while
out into the whirled up north
where the dust is red
the mopoke calls
and the stars hang low at night

Sunday 22 April 2012

more thoughts on careering wildly

thank you everybody for your contributions to the discussion in the previous post. I hope the Lamb has found information of use there and let me say it was never my intent to be callous, sarcastic or hurtful in my answers, merely as honest as i could be.

it occurred to me that i should have included more in my answer. eg that my income is not derived entirely from simply colouring cloth
but from a number of sources

it is important to distribute the eggs between several baskets
in case you trip up
in my case it means writing books and articles [most of these don't pay, Handeye bless them, DO]
making costumes for dance
teaching classes in dyeing cloth/paper , felt-making, stitch, garment re-construction, pieced cloth
or various combinations
taking the odd dress commission [but only from people i feel empathy with, otherwise it's too hard for me to make something that will work]
and in between finding time to 

i do teach a lot.
teaching is the main source of keeping body and soul together.
to keep the teaching fresh
no class is ever exactly repeated
the topic may be similar
but there will always be something [at least] a little different
i might speedily find myself confined to social nutworking in a secure facility
the kind of work i do
seems to attract interesting people
with whom it is a pleasure to spend time
plants and water are different around the whirled
which means there is always something new for me to learn as well

i noted among the comments to the earlier post
mention of health insurance, long service leave etc.
these benefits do not attach to this particular sole practitioner
on the other hand
i don't have to ask for permission
if i suddenly decide that pouring walnut dye onto a piece of organic cotton canvas in a motel carpark on the California coast is the best way to spend that particular morning

i noted also that one contributor mentioned she had found her soulmate early on and that the soulmate made it possible for her to chase her dreams
she's one of the Lucky Ones
i've met quite a few folk whose Significant Other is happy to be a Patron of the Arts.
guess the other option is to chain your soul to an educational institution in the hope of the security of tenure
but then
you also have to do the Devil's Work
administration / marking / constant justification of you being there / sucking up to people you might not otherwise want to give the time of day

as a friend of mine [who sadly drank himself to death in his 39th year*]
once said
"life is a rich tapestry
of loose ends"

*Christine's comment to the earlier post about a life on anti-depressants strikes firmly home here

Friday 20 April 2012

by request

firstly this is for Samm cos she asked how the flotsam dress worked [see previous post]
hope the scribbles make sense, adjust sizes of bits to fit own body
[hint - measuring with a piece of string much better than using a tape-measure]

and then in answer to another request which arrived as follows [published with original spelling but name removed] :

...I am about to graduate from college and I was hoping that I could email you a few questions because I am really interesting in your chosen occupation and want to know what to expect...

 to which i initially responded :

To be honest I never had a career plan other than architecture but shall do best to answer queries as long as you don't expect an essay! 
I'm curious about the phrase "what to expect". I have few expectations and so find that I go through life being pleasantly surprised. 

and then came the reply [my answers are in green]
I was just wondering about simple questions like what do you do on a typical day at work. Do you find the work repetitive or is it different every day. it is different every day. thank goodness.  
How long does it take you to die [um i'm hoping you mean "dye"] the material [oh thank goodness, you were referring to cloth. i'm not ready for the other yet] and then begin designing your clothing? i make the object first and then dye it. it could take a couple of days, or six months or a year  
What kind of work can I do beforehand to be successful at finding sustainable plant dyes and making clothing designs? be curious about everything. it helps if you treat it as play rather than work 
Would you recommend any type of classes or something that will make a person ready to start creating dyes besides reading your book? yes, mine. or Tracy Willans'. or Roz Hawker's. or Nalda Searles'. 
Do you plan out your own designs before you begin with the dye or is it purely experimental? depends on the project  
What kind of salary do you make if you are just beginning in your field. wondering if this question is a joke. i have never had a salary in this field. even now after over twenty-five years professional experience i barely end up with a profit. but i have enough and that is all that matters 
Is there anything really good or bad about your job that persuaded you to start besides being really good for the environment? i didn't choose my field of work just for the environment. i do this because i cannot "not" do it. it's called a passion. if you don't have it, don't do it. that goes for anything.  
Do you have any advice for people that want to follow in your footsteps? see previous answer. and it's better to make your own footsteps [people walk at different rhythms. try walking in someone's footprints on the beach sometime. can be tricky.] 
 Is there a lot of demand in what you do or is it very difficult to start? it takes 100% of me and then some. that's what makes it fun.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

the flotsam dress

i promised my students i would show them how it turned out
so here are some quick images of the flotsam dress
now that it's dry and the shibori stitching has been removed

Kaz Madigan over at Curiousweaver has some shots of the bundle being undone [in the rain]

rather better images than mine
shot against the sun this morning

doesn't look too spectacular from a distance
the devil is in the detail

sea fossils on cloth,  perhaps

Saturday 14 April 2012

another splendid day for play

what shall i do today?
perhaps i need a bit of colour

i said colour...they look a bit brown.

now that's more like it...
the spectacular hues derived from bundling
Davidson's Plum

a  student from afar [Switzerland via New Zealand]
discovers the joys of Eucalyptus ecoprints 
[on wool cloth woven in Japan and acquired in NZ]

participants have brought in an abundance of plant material
- this climate is so plant-friendly i'm sure i could toss a cutting over my left shoulder and it would have grown roots by the time it hit the ground -

[if i lived here, i'd be planting Japanese indigo]

the  ecoprint above came from the plant shown below

 lovely pecan leaves

 i think of these as 'tagetes', locals call them 
'stinking roger'

 some of us worked harder than others.
at the end of the day
i betook myself to the Pacific Coast
where i found plenty more to do

Friday 13 April 2012 Taree.

these chaps are loitering
even though
the sign says NO.

at least i'm not being disorderly
well, not so as you would notice

just hanging about
gazing at the multitudes of fleurs
and the abundance of water
while on my way

heading to class
i saw a deer in the woods

Wednesday 11 April 2012

i got mail!

today's mail has brought Good Things

Aesop have kindly supplied me with a boxful of their delicious Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm to take on my travels and share with my students - lovely on hands [and so gentle it can be used on the face], can even double as a conditioner for hair for those who like to travel light

there's a parcel from Alabama Chanin*
a length of their gorgeous organic cotton
for me to play with

in fact, i have a lot of play to do today

Martha thinks i should get on with it

* check out the JOURNAL on the Alabama website. full of wonderful stuff to read and to gaze at

Tuesday 10 April 2012


i am hearing/reading some rumblings in the undergrowth
about the cancellation of the Long Ridge Farm classes
that were to take place in August this year

it was not a decision that was taken lightly
nor was it for frivolous reasons

i hoped the four months notice would give folks reasonable time to make other plans
[at least it's rather more than most tutors are extended - many workshop hosts reserve the right to cancel the tutor up to four weeks ahead of an engagement]

i sincerely regret any inconvenience or disappointment
and hope the universe fills the gap in your calendar
with something marvellous and magical
as it so often does when things initially don't go quite to plan

although [that said] i have to admit i'm still looking for the silver linings
to some of the wobblies the universe has been bowling of late
must be there somewhere, i just have to polish my spectacles a bit better so i can see them

 the late John Lennon summed it succinctly when he said
“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”

and when you hit the wall and can't climb over it
-  paint daisies on it.

i'm off to get my paints and brushes.

Thursday 5 April 2012

of storytelling, magic and golden silence

firstly this treasure from TED
too delightful not to share

magic of a different kind
as we bloom from white

to something else entirely

dress sewn from 1.5 metres of silk broadcloth
[only unused piece of fabric being the neckhole
which should have become a pocket
but i needed a dress in a much for slowness]

coloured with leaves gathered from a street gutter

lastly a pearl of wisdom from a chocolate wrapper

the English text is perhaps a little harsh
in this instance i find the French version more appealing

and the chocolate [Italian]
was delicious thank you

have a lovely weekend, wherever you are

Wednesday 4 April 2012

jack dandy

i had occasion to go to town today
on a client visit
taking a shortcut to the hills again
i swung by an emporium on a quiet back street
and having a minute or two to spare
popped in to have a look about

i found this extraordinary treasure
a Union Jack
stitched together from carpet pieces
and not just any old carpet
they were pieces of Afghan treasure
so far as i could tell

i was mightily intrigued by this, so i had a little google-rummage
and came up with some interesting links
here and here
it's a lovely piece but somehow i can't imagine chopping up perfectly beautiful rugs in order to piece a flag...