Tuesday 31 July 2012

the story so far

reboiled the dressBundle with a handful of fresh eucalyptus tossed in the pot as an "anti-microbial" and decided it was time

there was a lot of string to unwind

the front and the back
there was a lot of stuff stuck to the surface
notably many pohutukawa stamens
bay mud

so i decided [in the interests of science/curiosity/the need to see the bottom of the marmalade pot] to sling the dress into a washing machine to see what if anything would be retained underneath

observations :  and questions

+ most of the brilliant onionshell colour on the applied sample pieces had dissipated. could this have been related to the seawater dip? previous experience has shown seawater to be a "colour enhancer".

+ the Bay Mud had turned black in some places, bluegreen in others

+ where egg had been used as pre-mordant, the original sample colour remained true

+ the mahonia berries made brown marks on the cotton of the dress  previous dyeing with mahonia [on silk,  using seawater from the Bay as opposed to Baker Beach] has resulted in purple and blue

+ the splodges of milk applied to the surface prior to dyeing [of the attached samples] retained their colour [while "unmilked" areas lost solid colour and gained other marks


applied mordants in order of effectiveness    Bay Mud [thank you Nikki], whole egg, milk   note:no iron was used

+ wrapping the whole around a steel pipe would probably have resulted in a darker colour [and made the tying much easier]

+ i have my suspicions that the bundle may have become overcooked [in the mould-killing process]

where to from here

while the results so far might not seem all that spectacular i am happy to have introduced some colour to previously snow-white cotton

for now i'm going to dry the dress [it holds water really well] and add a lot more stitching to the surface

and wait for it to tell me  

where it wants to go +X+ what it wants to do next

oh dear.

i  was hoping a bit of fresh air would dry things out a bit

but inspection this morning reveals strange new life forms

some of them possibly thinking of lunch

 and not just small life forms either...

think it may be time for a quick autoclave session
& opening time may be earlier than planned

Monday 30 July 2012

stargazy pie

Oscar Wilde famously pronounced
"we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars"

and some of us like stars so much
we'll kneel down in the gutter
and take rubbings of them

  much to the amusement of passersby

poetry is everywhere
some quite obviously placed

and some, you have to read between the lines

 after five glorious days in my favourite city
during which i have been offered extraordinary pleasures
sitting for a while on on a ceramics class for teachers of science
taught at the Exploratorium by Nikki Jackson
[for whose friendship and companionship i am deeply grateful]
where i was able to observe some of the alchemical processes
that lead to this

i say farewell

and board a south-bound train
headed for the City of Angels

for twelve hours
the caterpillar mumbles through the countryside

i arrive in Los Angeles and the dress gets an airing
after snuffling in the stuffiness of suitcase
light breezes here in the Hollywood Hills
should help to prevent it turning into a furred bear
[i don't want it going mouldy]

after a restful night in the arms of the angels
we venture out in search of dye material for tomorrow's class
which will be here in a charming complex of eclectic buildings
on Sunset Boulevard, once an outdoor shopping mall

at the Farmer's market
in between stalls of fragrant produce
there are more stars

Friday 27 July 2012

slow [cooked] cloth

a splosh of Chantilly cream
a dollop of salt caramel
a hefty sprinkle of pecan krokant
could well be dessert

Thursday 26 July 2012

San Francisco days, San Francisco nights

after the immersion, i carried that heavy wet thing home
[the selkie wanders still]
and along the trail back
rested it on some rusty stuff by a bunker

and slightly cleaned a copper post
[which added a green smudge]
gathered a graphite smudge 

 stopped to gaze at a favourite bridge

 then after the day was done
 more marks were added 
using mud from the Bay

and a stencil or two
[but NOT my fingers]

those colourful patches are from the testing i did on the cloth
seeing how it took colour from onionshells
together with various home-brewed mordants

it isn't exactly a typical Alabama Chanin embellishment
but i did construct the dress using a pattern from her gorgeous book

 then i covered it with my gatherings from the streets
[who would have thought that picking up one leaf or berry at a time
would have resulted in such a harvest]

 so it looked like this

those scraps on the pile are the remaining offcuts
hoping they will pick up colour
so i can add them at the end
- then i shall have used up the whole piece of fabric
[waste not, want not]

i rolled it up and tied it tightly
[this took about an hour]

and realised the bundle was too big for the travel cauldron
so i nipped out to Japantown
for the investment of about $5
i acquired two baking trays
a wire grill [to put inside]
and a handful of metal clips
[to attach one tray to the other]

naturally this couldn't be put on the stove
another solution had to be found

now it's a matter of slow cooking
on and off until Saturday
when i catch the train to Los Angeles
perhaps it will get a boil up in Goleta

but after that it will rest until August 9th
[the day i fly out]
unless i can convince a friend to keep it in his shed until the Fall
i will be unwrapping it in a private ceremony
at Moss Beach
and asking the four winds to dry it for me
so i can take it home

Tuesday 24 July 2012

making sense of the whirled [another day at the office]

today i gathered leaves. slowly and literally 
one . by . one
from the streets of San Francisco

i went out into the whirled with the firm intent
of running a few errands such as
stocking up on reeds from the music store
 looking for interesting papers for the class at Goleta
and seeing if there was anything my students might find useful
from the fabulous Goodwill store down on Fillmore

instead i wandered down my favourite thoroughfare
[Memory Lane, where the potholes have been filled,
the roses are flourishing and fragrance fills the air]

i visited old friends [magnolias in bloom, mahonias in berry]


and discovered that it seems my feet know San Francisco
rather better than they know the city where i was born
- in Melbourne i have to carry and refer to a map, while
here my feet just wayfind whilst i am thinking of other things

i found a harakeke [New Zealand flax a.k.a Phormium tenax
that was raining flowers and 
the universe kindly provided a clean baggie passing on the breeze
[helpfully labelled "buttons"]

i found my heart high on a hill
admittedly a little tubbier than when i last saw it
and a bit ratty around the edges
but still quite serviceable
despite being wind-dried and a bit flat

i also found a nice clean piece of cotton string.

i very nearly filled a book with graphite rubbings
[thanks Roz for making me buy that bargain-priced 
book of Khadi papers in Melbourne the other day]

i sat awhile on the Greenwich steps by Russian Hill
where some thoughtful person has installed a small
Japanese-style water feature, and
listened to the parrots chattering in the treetops
- they call them the parrots of Telegraph Hill
but [like me] they like more than one hill in San Francisco

wandered past the Asian tailor
who has been closed for at least 36 years
- checked that the windows remained unchanged
it is good to have a few constants in life

and went to have an Africano
[to my mind the best coffee in San Francisco]
in my favourite haunt near Washington Square

where i couldn't help but overhear
the woman at the next table
extolling the virtues of something she'd recently consumed
stating in rapturous tones that it had been
"godlike, made by the ancients"
and then bizarrely opening a discussion about
"that artist, you know, the Alabama mumbler"

which reminded me of another "mumbler"
encountered [also in San Francisco]
on the shady side of 35 years ago when i kept spotting a somewhat eccentrically dressed woman [yes, yes, i know that's rich coming from me] who would appear as if by magic, mumbling something unintelligible, scrape brickdust or paintflakes or stonechips carefully from a wall, place the harvest in a small plastic bag and secrete is about her person.

i thought she was a fruitloop.

and now i am her. 
pottering about the streets
gathering leaves and dried berries from the pavements
singing to myself
enjoying another day at the office.

+++ sharp-eyed readers may notice the publication date on this blog is a bit kerfoops at present. it's because i am [literally and metaphorically] wandering yesterdayland while my MacBook is all set for the whirled of tomorrow, on Australian time +++