Monday, November 02, 2009
Context is Everything
Wave Hill was alive with colour yesterday. Although the skies were grey, the landscape was beautiful and it served as a lovely backdrop to our experiments with colour from the dye pots. A small group that came by for the workshop/demo but, to me, it was just the right size. I had pots of indigo, onion skins, red cabbage, black tea, and black walnut going and people could try out fibre I had or they could bring their own, which a few did. I also had mordanted fibre and yarn with alum and tin so people could experiment with how they create different shades.
Owen, a boy of about seven, came with his parents and stayed the whole time with great enthusiasm. It was wonderful to see him so excited by how you can make colour from ordinary plants and household leftovers. Brece and Helen both came, which also was wonderful because I got to visit a little with them and because they both bring a great deal of knowledge of all things fibre-y so the workshop became a real sharing of information.
The indigo pot did not fail to inspire many oohs and ahhs for its magic but the black walnuts were not far behind. I had them soaking for three days before the workshop and they made an amazing dye - the most gorgeous warm reddish brown. And it was one time when the smell was actually kind of lovely, like taking a deep breath from the forest floor.
I was able to do a little PR for my residency project that will happen in the winter, encouraging interested people to come back and knit or spin with me. The project is growing or perhaps deepening is a better term. I want to explore the mutual relationships between people and the natural environment at Wave Hill and the institutional relationship between Wave Hill and its audience. I think of it as a study of two ecologies that overlap in many ways. While I was hashing these ideas out, I learned that ecology actually means "house study" which seemed very appropriate for what I wanted to do. Thus the project is called House Study/Handmade.
As I have started collecting things to dye, I noticed that the staff have communal coffee and tea and a little kitchen space, so I asked them to save their tea bags, etc., so that I can dye not only with the plants but with the things that the people their use in their daily routines. I like that I am collecting these items, as well as the leaves and twigs, to make a kind of portrait in dyes of Wave Hill. Same thing, only different.
After that day of colour and context, I saw this over on Wild Fox Zen and it could not have been more appropriate.
Remember: don't believe everything you see.