Learning – with India Flint
Back in 2008 I found out about India Flint's work and book Eco Colour through a blog (somebody named Olga – but sadly I do not remember the blog itself). I ordered the book right away and received just before the arrival of our barren season (also called late fall, winter, early spring). I had managed to dye a few pieces of fabrics and read the book cover to cover. I immediately was filled with ideas to incorporate her dyeing techniques into my art practice. Sadly, my attempts to bring her to Canada through the Textile Museum of Canada here in Toronto didn't lead to anything.
Nevertheless, I have been following her growing recognition and fame with glee. Last year I found out too late that she was going to teach a workshop in Toronto and didn't get a spot – luckily though, I had the chance to hear her lecture at the above mentioned Textile Museum and got a chance to meet her in person (we've had the occasional exchange through e-mail over the years).
When I found out that she was coming back to Canada I set all wheels in motion to participate in her workshop. Although I initially ended up on the waitinglist, I eventually secured a spot.
So without much further ado, here are some pictures of the past week. (Unfortunately, my severe hearing loss, coupled with India's soft spoken words was not a perfect match – if there is something that I'm sharing here that I obviously misunderstood, please peep up in the comments so that I can set things straight).
The location was a wonderful place to work. After the first day, the coolest of the bunch, I worked outside for the reminder of the week. Thinking that very soon our 6 months of cold weather will be upon us, I tried to soak up as much sun as possible.
The morning bundles greeting us on day two. Their most simple look speaks to me of a different time. They too loved soaking in those rays of morning sun.
The return of the shadow people (a series of work I did many years ago). Inspired by India's many pocketed smock/tunic, I sewed myself an apron with many pockets from an 3X mens shirt that I had set aside for re-purposing. That apron will definitely become one of my uniforms to wear at the studio and is the outline of the almost pioneer look of my shadow.
Looking at the unrolled bundles. These were dyed in black walnuts we had on the property. Sybil was very kind and let me take home as many as I could collect.
(In this picture – fLtoR – Judy, India, Sarah, Gini, Maggie)
Stitching on my sample landskin. Using pre-felted old sweater bits with fringes, various types of wool and silk thread/yarn, cheesecloth, prefelt, and bits and bobs.
One of my own bundles – one that got me into trouble (grin) with our revered teacher. I used hand-dyed silk yarn that I was certain had been 100% fixed and would not bleed – ehm.. it did bleed and although most of us loved the blue lines it created, India pointed out that since we have no idea what exactly the acid dyes contain, it made it unsafe now to reach into the dye pot with bare hands to retrieve our packages – a task which previously was perfectly harmless with only goldenrod plants. Lesson learned: stick with undyed materials, especially when working with others.
Garden tour – India led us on a walk through the garden pointing out various plants and their possibilities in our work. This was one of the times I really wished I had the funds to purchase myself a hearing aid that has a wireless transmitter – I could have given India the microphone and would have been able to hear more of what she said. Luckily, my fellow students where extremely kind and let me copy their notes. Indias knowledge is wonderful, extensive and simply amazing!
This little fell'er came for a visit and hung around outside. Praying Mantis – and as we learned on our last day there, when the male has mated with the female she bites his head off and eats him – I'm sure that must have some nutrients important in the growing of new babies – but wow, I'm certainly glad we don't have the same mating ritual.
Beautiful inspiration in the garden. Japanese Lantern. I imagine the lines as stitching; I also think of adding just a little bit of bright colour into an otherwise toned down piece.
Indias wonderful stitching – a sample she created while we stitched away on our landskin samplers.
A detail of Indias work – a finished garment, sewn, stitched and dyed.
Eucalyptus from the florist – samples on silk, wool yarn, prefelt. This bundle was wrapped around that large rock.
Day 5 – our landskins all bundled up and sitting in the cauldron. If my memory serves me right, these where the bundles containing bits of metal.
India getting the kindling in order. She improvised a wonderful fire area so that we could boil the cauldrons all in one go. We also talked about the care she has to take when making fires in Australia, where it is dry and dangerous – this is a task I will have to learn myself. I already told my husband that next year there will be a firebowl in our back yard.
The match that got the process underway.
Indias wonderful stitched tunic – the back side – I love the threads and the meandering of the stitches (the link shows you the front).
Black walnuts and my humble-bundle warming up.
While the bundles bubbled away India showed us another neat thing (I won't give it away though, because I got the sense that she liked to keep this one as a bit of a surprise for the last day of the workshop). All I'm going to say, is that it's bloody addictive!
Removing the steaming bundle from the cauldron. If we do this at home, we would leave the bundles to cool in the pot, alas, as it was our last day, we didn't have that luxury. There were a lot of wet bundles taken home – I used my felt wetting-out bucket together with some black walnuts.
My bundle (I think) – I used a lot of silk thread, because this is the colour that I love to sew on my papers with.
The bundle dyed in goldenrod with an amazing bright green.
We have promised to each other to send around photos of the finished landskins so that we could all see how our big piece turned out.
I will post pictures of my landskin and my cowl (more about that in my next post) in the days ahead.
Thank you all my fellow workshop participants for being so kind to me and helping me hear, thank you Jan for organizing the event. Thank you India for sharing of yourself – I'm re-reading the books now, hearing your voice and understanding everything a whole lot more!