Monday 21 December 2015

Want to be among the first to know?

The San Francisco class announced yesterday filled in less than four hours, which was a bit of a surprise and I had quite a few emails later from people who had missed the announcement. I tried managing an email list years ago but most of it bounced back and what didn't bounce back ended up in spam filters (it seems having "India" as a name isn't always an advantage) so I've created a Facebook group for those who would like advance notice of future classes.

It's called "India Flint wanderings and workshops" and you can either ask to join via FB or if you prefer, send me an email via the contact page on my website and I'll add you in. I'll admit was dragged kicking and screaming into Facebook by a workshop organizer who insisted I catch up with the modern whirled. I'm not always comfortable there but it does have its uses.

and if you're already corresponding with me then slinging me a line through the usual channels will be just fine.

By joining the group you'll have at least 48 hours advance notice of classes (except where the organizer has their own mailing list) before they are put up on my website so your chances of getting into one should improve markedly. Will I see you there? I hope so!

Sunday 20 December 2015

being there by the Bay (and some paeonies)

last week i helped my Ma to tick something off her bucket list.
last night i decided to tick something off my own.

Ma was keen to see paeonies blooming in abundance in lovely Aotearoa (so was i, quite frankly). so we went.
it was absolutely wonderful, but more of that later on.

the thing i'm ticking off my bucket list, is a workshop in San Francisco

as those of you who know me are aware
though i have been utterly and irrevocably in love with San Francisco since 1976 
(i love you too, New Orleans, you know that...but only since 1983) 
i have avoided giving a class there and kept the Bay area as a kind of sacred space.

now i have decided to be generous and share my love. it is time.

the poetics of place : being (t)here on the Bay

Join me in one of my favourite places in the whirled, for three delightful days exploring the exquisite poetry of plant-derived colour on paper and cloth.
We will gather leaves and words, make experiential drawings, print and dye paper and cloth and explore the translation of drawn marks into stitch. From these investigations we will form a series of beautiful folded books that will map our experience of place and through our understanding of landscape we develop a deeper familiarity with our selves.
The lapping waters of San Francisco Bay, the cries of the waterbirds and the splashings of the seals will combine to make songs for our hearts and provide background music to colour our readings.  
 As usual there will be good food, wine and chocolate. I am carefully curating a lovely collection of materials so you won't need to bring a thing other than some comfy walking shoes, "clothing that doesn't matter" and a cheery smile.
there'll only be nine places. keeping it small and intimate so that i am able to spend time with you all.
please email me for for detailed information

and now back to those paeonies.
they were utterly glorious.

 my Ma having a fine old time

 there's nothing quite like a G+T while prone in the paeonies

and if you really truly love them
you can buy this farm

Thursday 10 December 2015

end of year report

back in the dark ages this was the time of year at which the dreaded school report was handed out

"would do better on the sports field if she spent less time daydreaming and more time paying attention"
"untidy exercise books with too much doodling inside and out"
were the sorts of comments i came home with back then
i wanted to share these two installments about a recent class with you
before i do
shall confess that the author is a friend of mine
(as well as being as amazing knitter of socks and a splendid maker of lemon delicious puddings and also marmalade)

just so you know

i do love staying at Crockett Cottage Studio (where the workshop described above was held)
and so does Kubbi
we won't be there next year but with a bit of luck may be back in 2017 or 18
it really depends on what the Dogs Above toss at us

Saturday 5 December 2015

i've been tossed a beautiful bouquet!

just as I was thinking I'd have a quiet and cold July at home between exhibitions (in the UK and the USA) and taking up my residency at the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens...I was tossed a beautiful and fragrant bouquet in the form of an invitation to teach at the organic flower farm tended by Raquel Trejo and her partner Andrew at Scotts Head on the mid-north NSW coast.

Raquel has been my student several times, both in Australia and in New Zealand. I immediately said yes "so long as I am given a leave pass from the farm". Happily that pass has been issued 

so it is with great joy and delight that I am able to tell you there will be a 'being (t)here' retreat here in Australia in July 2016.  details below, in Raquel's poetic language...I should mention that the being (t)here class to be held at Beautiful Silks in November 2016 filled by word of mouth before it had been published to the whirled, so if you're interested, do please drop Raquel a line sooner rather than later

being (t)here

Mid North Coast, NSW,  Australia

July 2016

Journey with India Flint to a place where beauty is part of simple living and living is simply beautiful.  Spend five days being (t)here, on a little biodynamic farm, on a river, by the beach. Explore by thought and by foot the forest and the farmland of this stunning part of the mid north coast of New South Wales where the rivers wander to the sea.

Meander with India in cloth, stitch and locally gathered plant dyes on a country lane of drawing, writing, mark-making and paper-folding, to make a small and intricate workbook mapping the journey of time shared, a hand stitched cloth to enfold it, and a hand twined cord to wrap around it.

Contemplate the honesty of country life with the making and stitching of an apron, thrifted from an old shirt, with pockets for books and poems and places to tell stories, and a tsunobukuro bag to keep it safe.

There will be music and silence, poetry and times of deep listening, experiential drawing and the gathering of gorgeous nothings. Be nourished by our biodynamic vegetables fresh from the farm gardens, home baked and raw treats (with occasional tastes of real Mexico) provided by your host Raquel, and India will share her love of cooking by making a pot of soup for lunch each day.

“Turn on, tune in, drop out “ with India in an intensive masterclass focused on the deep experience of being (t)here. Places are exquisitely limited.

Dates: July 18th to 22nd, 2016
Venue: 923 Scotts Head Road, Scotts Head, NSW 2447


Thursday 3 December 2015

simple beauty

celebrating the month of twinkle lights and Sagittarian birthdays by giving y'all a present.
leafprinting in a nutshell.
simple is beautiful.

and it's as simple and beautiful as that.
if you'd like to go deeper
i would of course be delighted if you'd buy the Bundle Book
attend a class sometime
(there's one on Sunday at Poet's Ode)

and while we're on the subject of beautiful
i've gathered together the words you kindly gave

put them in italics and begun to acquaint them with others
there are so many different paths that might be followed,
here is the first one that ensued.

i try for kindness
though i am restless
and would rather meander
through luscious gardens
with time to ponder
the meaning of bespoke
with gratitude
despite confusion
hoping for an epiphany
 with zeal
 and love
never losing hope
for serenity
and connectedness
awaiting the dawning
and the murmur of magic
that particular moment
in which to advocate joy
for now
i fly
up and beyond
seeking peace
in the precious dusk

thank you for sending me these seeds of writing.

Monday 30 November 2015

the need to know

unless you know what it is
unless you know what it is, it's legal and it isn't going to make you sick.

during a class last week at the Beautiful Silks Botanical Studio somebody asked the question
"what does oleander do?"

which reminded me that when i pootled across the ranges to Rockford in the Barossa Valley earlier in the month to pick up bottles of assorted nectars (with which to enhance the lunches at Mansfield) i drove past a group of young gentlemen assiduously stripping flowers from a huge Oleander (Nerium oleander). it occurred to me about a 100 metres later that they had bare hands. 
so i did the grandmotherly thing, made a u-turn and went back. 

poor things, they thought i'd come to give them a talking-to for stealing flowers. not so. but i DID give them a talking-to about health and safety.

they had no idea of the name of the plant, or that it was poisonous.
so i told them. 
i also suggested they would want to wash their hands before consuming their next meal (or rubbing their eyes)
their plan was to scatter the flowers at a wedding...but if i were the bride i wouldn't want bushels of  toxic plant matter tossed at me.
i'd also be concerned about small children picking up the flowers and putting them in their mouths. as small children so often do.

i tell my students time and time again "identify the plant, at very least by genus, before gathering". because it's just common sense.

somebody told me in the USA years ago how she and a friend had been hospitalized with anaphylaxis after lifting the lid on a pot full of boiling poison ivy. the genus name Toxicodendron tells me to stay well away from that one. i was so stunned by the story that

i completely forgot to ask "and what colour did it dye?"

so what DOES oleander do? i have no idea. and i don't plan to put it in a dyepot because even the smoke from burning oleander is poisonous.

while i'm on the subject
there have been a spate of images of "ecoprints" from castor oil plant leaves floating about the internet. call me old Mrs Unadventurous if you like, but i would be a bit nervous about bundling leaves from the plant whose derivative was used to kill Georgi Markov. admittedly using it in a dye bundle may not get the stuff into your bloodstream (which is where it is most effective) but there's very little research about the effects of inhaling steam from boiling such bundles.
once cloth is rinsed and dried it won't be a longterm poisoning device (unless you were to soak it in a poison before offering it for use, not a pleasant thought).

so given about 80% of ornamentals in suburban gardens are poisonous in one way or another, i recommend caution.

simple errors like confusing colchicums for crocus and hemlock for angelica have led to tears before bedtime in the past.

i'm not scare-mongering, i just think it's important to know what you're dealing with.

one of the reasons that green became the colour of bad luck in the theatre was that actors who regularly wore green costumes became sick and eventually died...if the colour green in the cloth was dependent on the presence of orpiment (arsenic trisulphide)
they may not have known why, just that you became ill if you wore green.

but that's another story.

ps thank you everybody who offered a word (or two) in response to the previous post...i'll be working with those words and shall hope to find them some friends soon

Friday 20 November 2015

words words words

i love words
i keep a bowlful in the studio at home
to dip into
and to play with
when far from home i choose words with my eyes shut from whatever publication is to hand
and i learned (from poet Naomi Shihab Nye in a "new works" session at Haystack) that one of many delightful ways to begin a piece of writing is to harvest a collection of phrases from books randomly selected from an available shelf and then begin to dance with the words

in recent years i have begun classes by asking participants to write down their favourite word of the moment (never fear, it won't be set in concrete and i don't ask people to read it aloud or write it on their foreheads in lipstick...and it's likely to be something quite different in five minutes)

then the words are put into a vessel
(boat, bowl, bag)
along with a few others

and then we each take a lucky dip and begin to write 

the word that repeats itself time after time for me is


what's your favourite word today?

Wednesday 18 November 2015

a strong contender for new favourite skirt

after my students all packed their bags and headed back into the whirled
I spread out my bits and pieces and began work on a few garments, pieced together
from bits of other garments

this evening I unbundled my new skirt...realising too late that I hadn't made any "pre-dye" pictures.

the dyestuffs are all locally gathered.
predominantly eucalyptus with a little casuarina and the odd acacia pod tossed in to spice the mix

the skirt is made from two pairs of mens trousers. the labels on both stated they were a silk/wool blend.
the dyepot says otherwise.

still, I'm fond of silver greys and taupes so I'm not losing any sleep over it

the skirt was stitched by hand using merino+silk thread. it's picked up the colour rather nicely

there are eleven pockets on the skirt, so it will be an excellent wandering garment
room for leaves and drawings and poems and a clean hankie or two
along with a small notebook, a pencil and the camera that thinks it is a telephone

the picture above shows the lining. it's a silk+linen mix I had from Beautiful Silks

something in the chemical history of the cleaning of the pants that make up this skirt has pushed the usual red tones of the Eriococcus coccineus infesting the twigs of one of the eucalypts to yellow

two patches of silk stitched on to the skirt show that the fabric of the original trousers was either not what it stated on the label OR had been drycleaned so often that it responded oddly in the dyebath

this bright bit WAS wool. it's part of a jacket I was cutting up, now a nice detail on the hem of the dress

part of the waistband of one of the trousers became pockets

and unfortunately I didn't have a real body to hand so this shot of the skirt on the dummy will have to do for now.
I'm planning to wear it on the New Mexico adventure, just in case it snows. but not with that top (which is really an apron in gestation)

for the record : no plastic or ferrous sulphate used, but there were bits of iron in the dyepot - which is all you need, really.

Monday 16 November 2015

when only mac and cheese will do

I love cooking
so last night I went to see 'Burnt'
mostly because I wanted to loll in a beanbag at Mansfield's Armchair Cinema
and partially because I was curious to see what fresh horror had been brought to the table (pun intended)
...remembering what had been done when one of my favourite food movies, Bella Martha, had been translated into Hollywoodese and become a parody of itself in No Reservations

anyway Burnt began quite well with the hero hopping onto a streetcar in my beloved New Orleans (and the movie trailer kept cutting back there so I had nourished high hopes) to go to work as an oyster shucker (I'm an oyster shucker, I'm an oystershucker's daughter, I like shucking oysters cos....well, ah whatever) but after he scribbles 
in a lovely suede notebook, he storms away from his station (leaving his workmates in the lurch) and is then for some unfathomable reason filmed walking across the Crescent City Connection (formerly the Greater New Orleans Bridge) towards the city (from Algiers) when there's no way he could have taken a streetcar to the West Bank

 it's all downhill from there, garnished with far too many hairy borage flowers, plastic mandolines and a lot of plate throwing (though I must say it was fun to listen to Bradley Cooper speaking French - if indeed that was his voice it was most commendable) and I do hope they paid the divine Emma Thompson a LOT of money to appear in that ridiculous tent dress

but in the end all it did was make me crave mac and cheese for dinner. 

so this evening I boiled up some gluten-free penne, made a sauce using potato flour, butter, garlic and milk.
slung in a lot of cheese and a whisper of creole+Cajun flavours, sprinkled the mix liberally with well-buttered gluten free breadcrumbs and slung it into the oven to think about the sins of the whirled while I wilted some greens with garlic and brown butter to serve as a side. 

damn fine stuff, though I say it myself. sadly I was too eager to dive in to remember to photograph the plate. 

but here are the dregs. tomorrow's breakfast. nom nom nom.

and here are some of the other things I've been photographing today : gorgeous work by my friends Audrey Fittal, Anne Collins, Jan Barker and Mary Heath
made here in Mansfield, Victoria

Tuesday 3 November 2015

a confession - with a postscript

i've been feeling very bad 
on the last day of my class in Vancouver I was given a card from my students
i put it away to read later because my attention was being called to something in the next room
thought i had gathered it up with the papers from the clothesline 
and have been looking for it ever since

so if there was something in it that i haven't responded to
it's not because i am ignoring you

it's because i've lost it

and i'm sorry

that's all. 

not quite all

am delighted to say that as i was packing for the Mansfield workshop series...the card magically appeared (from a place i had looked in before) and so all is well. i could have deleted this post but hey i figured it might as well stay


Sunday 1 November 2015

keeping it simple (2) and dark and beautiful

what, so soon? yes.

eucalyptus is pretty much the instant gratification genus. once it's been boiled all you need do is wait for it to cool...unless you have metals present such as copper or aluminium or iron. in that case giving it time can yield further magic

if you're working with leaves from what i would call deciduous exotics (when i'm home) aka the deciduous plants of the northern hemisphere
then giving the bundles a week or two
(or longer in a preserving jar) will well repay your patience

i'm loving how this quite stiff and hard-edged weave has softened in the dyepot
the warp and weft have relaxed
and it feels lovely to the hand
(no scouring necessary, eucalyptus did the trick)

that very open weave allowed colour to travel between layers
and of course capillary action sucked the black of the pre-loved pot
through everything

exactly as i had hoped

(if i had not wanted that i could simply have layered the cloth with paper)

it will dry a little lighter
and is perfect for all seasons

the fragrance is delicious
and will make itself known whether in San Francisco fogs
the mists of Scotland
or a Singapore downpour

i can wear it in layers with a big wool wrap
or roll it around some beads
if i want to dress up
dressing up is fun

want to see a rapid fire film of the unbundling?  go here.

PS the pix are unedited and straight from the batfone... WSWG

Saturday 31 October 2015

keeping it simple (1)

take a piece of

(a gift from Marion of Beautiful Silks
a handful of leaves (swept up from the studio floor)

something to wrap them around
some string with which to tie them

snug as a bug

introduce them to a pre-loved brew

topped up with rainwater from the tap

give them time to become acquainted 
and some heat to help seal the friendship

keeping it all sweet and simple 

like this beautiful poem by Mary Logue


and do swing back in a few days if you're curious about the result
or just follow the simple steps above
to write your own poem on cloth

Sunday 25 October 2015

out (t)here

last Saturday the Dog and i filled the ute with supplies, lashed down the tarpaulin (on the first rainy night here in months!) and set a course for the North

arriving just before sunset

Wirrealpa Station is a wonderful place. it's bigger than some European countries i can think of
the light is astonishing

birds witter and warble and squark and chatter all day long
kangaroos thump past, emus make deposits on the doorstep in the dead of night
lizards visit at lunchtime 
now that my friend Janet* (who came along to help me by peeling, chopping and slicing as well as setting tables and doing endless piles of dishes) has introduced them to strawberries i fear they'll find the ruby saltbush berries a little sour

my days began with wood chopping and firelighting to ensure there was hot water for showers in the bathhouse

the 50,000 year old petroglyphs of Chambers Gorge inspired works on paper and cloth
coloured with roadside ochre harvests and windfallen leaves

we wrote, drew, dyed
gathered leaves and interesting objects
twined string, folded paper
composed collective poems
and made many bundles

Lily, Snip and Kubbi dispensed dog-love to anyone in need (and kindly didn't howl when i played my saxophone)

the beauty of a live-in retreat like this is that work can continue as long as participants have energy. we fired cauldrons most evenings
and sometimes even in the early morning
it's a place for walking, dreaming, thinking, observing and absorbing

too soon we were making our farewells
i boiled up a last dyepot, packed up the kitchen, washed all the sheets and then sat down to a hot footbath and a cold gin
immersed in the Great Silence on my last night there

today Kubbi and i made our way home, via Eurelia and the World's End Highway,
a little sad that our retreat out (t)here to Wirrealpa was already over.
i will be back. even if it IS a long way to the shops for a sausage roll.

* i have to say i could not have managed without you, Janet...and i am deeply grateful to my medical team (Janet and Isobel)  for being present, patching grazes and building the odd cardboard splint!