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!




Stitching away

Working on a little something for myself.. will show you what it is when it is finished.




Ingredients: 100% black, kinda glossy linen fabric; 100% silk hand-dyed thread; hand stitching, patience, slowness, rough edges, square, healing

inspired by: annekata and a procrastination at the studio and looking through some Japanese craft books 

Details of a summer past

One of the reasons that I am so inspired to blog about my daily dadoodles is that I love to share what I do with like minded souls. Last summer, I spent a week in Haliburton, Ontario, about 3 hours north of here, doing embroidery. The workshop was hosted by Dorothy Caldwell (see some images of hers). I took a batik workshop with her some years ago and am just so blown away by her work and her personality. Then a former studio mate of mine took this one-week stitching workshop with her and I loved the sampler she produced. When I saw the listing for her course at the Haliburton School of Arts, summer schedule, I knew that I had to take it.

I feel the need to preface my stitching work with the fact that I have nerve damage in my right wrist. After years of believing that it was carpal tunnel syndrom, I know now that it is because both my pinky fingers are substantially shorter than “normal”, which means that for years I strained the nerves of my other fingers when carrying stuff. I’m getting bi-weekly treatments now and currently put accupuncture needles into my wrist every night. It’s made a huge difference. So I was worried about how much stitching I could actually get accomplished at the workshop. I was very happily surprised to not have pain. It must help, that I didn’t have a heavy little boy to carry around for a week. I think that most mothers can attest to the fact that our kids continue to strain our bodies after birth, yet I wouldn’t want to miss his closeness and the hugs for anything in the world.

At the workshop, one of the excercises was to make 5 little images depicting a scene of our lives. We were inspired by having beautiful Indian Kanta cloths hanging around us. If you are interested in finding out more about the way that East-Indian women tell stories, check out this link: Kantha. I will upload images of my finished 3 little pieces at a later point. We also had to stitch on a sampler, where we explored stitching. We started out our class by being given a piece of cardstock and being told to start stitiching in the middle on the left side, then do whatever our fancy told us, and end up in the middle on the right side. When we where finished, we lined up all our cards. It was truly astonishing, how each of our personalities where reflected in this one line.


I will remember this exercise when I teach my next workshop, as I think something similar like this would be wonderful to do with almost any medium. It connects us to our fellow students, as well as shows us our individuality.

The part of the workshop that I was most excited about is the sampler. Here are a few details of the stitching that I did. Even though the workshop was not my first time away from the family since Huxley was born (I’d gone to visit a dear friend in New York in November 2006), it was the first time that I had a chance to just work on an art activity for a concentrated time. Even though I did not at all like the place that I stayed at (kinda a creepy appartment, that had no view, and no happy vibes, but would have been perfectly fine for a batchelor), I spent all my time stitching. I’d get up in the morning, eat some breakfast, then get to school early. I’d be there stitching when everyone arrived. After class, I hooked up with one of the other girls and we’d go down to the lake to stitch. Arriving home at dusk, I’d stitch until 10pm while listening to my I-pod. I only figured out two nights before I left, that I could receive some TV stations (this felt weird, since we don’t watch TV at home, only movies). The best of all was that my hands where able to handle it.

So here, withouth further ado, some details of my sampler:






Although the sampler has been at the studio since the fall, I had forgotten about it until I started looking for these pictures to share. Now that I have it in front of me again, I am very inspired to work on other pieces that I can then incorporate into my art works. Once the Toronto Art Expo Art Expo 2008 is over, I will definitely work on getting this under way. For now, I’m getting ready to resin coat a selection of work that I am very excited about. Pictures and twitter to follow.