Tuesday, 28 March 2017

learning life lessons

it was a splendid road trip
pootling across Australia with Kubbi the One-Eyed Wonder Dog
nine hours on the road (punctuated by frequent stops to
wander in the bush and gaze at flora)
is a lot of thinking time.

there and back again is twice that.

I always learn something new from teaching workshops
what became crystal clear to me during the three days at Beautiful Silks Botanical Studio
is that the work I do
is also my own big life lesson.

that the act of teaching is my personal journey to be the best person (in this life) that I can be.
it isn't all roses, and it's hard sometimes to resist being catty about the way that the "ecoprint", a term I optimistically coined in 1999, has been hijacked to be anything but "eco-friendly" or sustainable.
because when I hear of the mountains of plastic and the bucket-loads of adjunct mordants being used out there I do become quite despondent.

but then I read this

"Thank you, for another brilliant, creative soul feeding workshop, that brought a group of strangers together but leaving as friends"

and it warms my heart because it reminds me of what is really important.

it isn't the brightness of the colour (though we certainly had that) or the volumes of product ... it's the connections we make when we gather together around a cauldron.

in this instance, a "second skin" class, it was also about the empowerment that comes with the simple skills of making.

I'd probably have made truckloads of loot over the years if I had just kept the botanical contact print process a secret and churned out yardage or silk pyjamas and a squillion printed wool scarves, but for me the greater satisfaction comes with seeing the happy smiles that bloom when dresses grow using simple running stitch, lovely threads and beautiful cloth. (all all we need, really, is 'enough')

in "second skin" we make string, measure with it, make a few marks with graphite and then boldly cut and sew.
no clatter of machines, just the quiet ebb and flow of conversation, and sometimes simply gentle silence.

and magic happens.

in this last class people shared so many life skills beyond just sewing and dyeing.
friendships were forged, wisdoms exchanged.

and that makes my life worth living. with bells on.

and then (fresh from the cauldron)
I was given the most magnificent present hand-stitched
with so much love, and dyed in my favourite colours.
 thank you, Robyn.
it's going to wander with me.


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  2. I think this is a vocation that uses your many talents and your wisdom and that shares ecological thinking and dyeing knowledge far more widely than any line of scarves ever could. I am not surprised it is also more satisfying!

  3. I'm very grateful that you find fulfillment as teacher and guide. And keeper and revealer of the mystery of plants and cloth. Remembering with appreciation a week on magical Whidbey Island, each day filled with the joy of discovery alongside creative companions. So much more than a workshop or just learning a new technique; you created a liminal space for us to dance with the secrets of nature and the magic of cloth and color, making beauty with respect for the earth.

  4. Your classes are magical, I would love to do a second skin one sometime. Loved taking part in the workshop you did in the Stroud valley. a memorable experience.

    1. that was such a beautiful place, too.
      and each morning I had the most delightful walk to 'work', along that lovely valley

  5. Yes India, I too squirm when I hear of "ecoprint" being used when other noxious things are also part of what some people are producing. And you are spot on - what happens in your "retreats" are so much deeper than learning a new skill. The readings, the other creative people there, the sharing, the conversations, the new friendships - it is all so fulfilling - that's why you have so many people coming back time and time again! You create magic, on cloth, paper, and emotions! Keep on doing what you are doing . . . it is so special ❤️

    1. thanks me dear...Marion and I were joking about the possibility of getting our zimmerframes tangled in her woad garden in twenty years time

  6. india, your teaching presence facilitates class richness, you make, or allow, it to happen. i like 'botanical contact print'. but more i like how it's grown to be a record of place, something you taught me those many years ago reading your book and then working with you. (i was astonished to hear on my recent trip reference to plastic and toxic mordants!) if i had planned better i might have been able to attend your class at b.s. most of all, i want to say again, thank you.