Category Archives: Block printing

More Blues

I’m busy getting ready for the first of the two three day mud resist workshop this weekend and so I’ve had to put my work on hold for a few days. Cotton is being scoured, menus planned, blocks oiled,  dabu ingredients are ready for mixing.

I’m looking forward to this weekend as there will be a couple of familiar faces from previous workshops as well as a few new ones. Though there is a good number for the August bank holiday The September course on the 6th, 7th and 8th still has spaces left, and so please get in touch if you are tempted.

Dan has been busy experimenting with bread recipes, as well as making some new printing blocks which look really promising. We are so lucky to live between Coleshill Organics where we buy the fruit and vegetables we don’t grow and Factory Furniture who very kindly give me offcuts of wood for blocks.

 

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Mud Glorious Mud

It’s been a while, and much has been happening in the Stable Yard. I had a most enjoyable time last weekend with lots of indigo, dabu mud resist and five lovely women who ventured from as far away as Cornwall and Monmouthshire.

I love the way that everybody had access to the same blocks, though made very different pieces. Sadly, many of them went away unwashed. Thank you for your enthusiasm and here’s hoping for some pictures of the finished pieces to share.

I think I will let the pictures speak for themselvesdabuMaking dabu

mud printing studioPrinting with blocks

Janet's resist dryingMud resist drying

mud resist and indigo lineFirst dips in indigo

Busy

Busy, busy, busy!

Dan's focacciasDan’s focaccia for lunch

double dabuSecond print and more indigo

drying Indian styleDrying Indian style

Jennie's tableclothJennie’s deep indigo tablecloth

indigo iron and mudBefore washing

indigo and ironIndigo, Iron and a bit of imagination.

Saturday it will be a day of shibori and indigo. Really looking forward to it.

Grateful

cover

What a good week. The exhibition in Stanford in the Vale has been really successful. I’ve met lots of people who have shown interest in my work and the workshops.  I came home from the show yesterday to find a copy of the Western Daily Press on the doorstep (thanks to Denny) In the Colour supplement, is a double page article about Denny and my connections with India, textiles and natural dyes, with pictures including one on the cover. Wow!  You can read it here

Next Saturday 17th May 10.30 – 4.30 there will be a Summer Fair here in the Stable Yard in Coleshill where I will have work on show and my studio will be open.  Denny will be selling her clothes, Sallie and Jim Ead will have wonderful vintage textiles for sale and there will be  Jewellery, pottery and bread and preserves on sale. The weather forecast is good and so a lovely day is on the cards.

summer fair

My first workshop is the following weekend and is full and others are beginning to fill up. The garden is looking great. I’m looking forward to some warm still weather next week  to continue some indigo work and  I’m feeling content. I am also grateful to my friends and hubby for supporting me in my endeavours and fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.

alliums

 

Oxfordshire Artsweek

I have been really busy for the past month neglecting both my blog and the housework. My summer studio is up in the garden with printing tables and indoor washing lines for the Spring showers.

studio

A trip to London to see the final dress rehearsal of The Winters Tale at the Opera House with fabrics and clothes from Denny Andrews followed by a wonderful exhibition of Boro textiles at Somerset House.

My indigo has been sown and is growing happily ready to be planted out at the end of May along with Coreopsis and Weld.

Persicaria tinctoria seedlings

Spring leaves have been steamed in handwoven khadi cotton and prints and last years indigo vat has been revived for some mud resist printing.

khadi prints 1 khadi prints

I was invited by my friend and Potter Noriko McFarlane to show at her studio at Manor Farm in Stanford in the Vale for Oxfordshire Artsweek. The exhibition opened last Saturday with a stream of people coming through the door and is open until the 11th of May.

Now to prepare for the workshops and new work.

Visiting the Masters in Kutch

I’m still working on the a new website for Denny Andrews.  The photographs of the new seasons garments and shawls remind me of last years buying trip to India.

Always an adventure, I love traveling on Indian railways. Long train journeys, often overnight  in two tier second class air conditioned.  You are provided with a paper bag containing sheets, pillowcase and towel to make your bed. Meals are brought to you and in between there are always chai wallahs and snacks being sold. Families bundle themselves into small spaces and the carriages burst with people and luggage. The Indians have the capacity to sleep on a shelf in a sari, stay amazingly still and leave the train in the morning looking serene and composed. I on the other hand toss and turn, get tied up in the sheets, look crumpled and baggy eyed and emerge from my cocoon looking, well, less than serene. Still, I believe it is the best way to travel to  experience the luxury of hours spent reading and looking out of windows at vast landscapes and the extremities of life.

After a couple of days in Delhi our first adventure was a 27 hour train journey west to Bhuj, Kutch a part of Gujarat. The purpose of this trip was to visit the Ajrak printers in Dhamadka and the weavers of Bhujodi. Gujarat has an amazing textile tradition, renowned for its printing, weaving and intricate embroidery.

The Khatri family are generations of master printers and dyers and represent the longest and finest of printing traditions in the world.  As we are shown around advice and knowledge are generously shared as I take pictures and ask numerous questions about process. Though they have been supplying Denny with wonderful block prints for years some things have changed. Synthetic indigo has taken the place of natural indigo fermentation vats and alizarin for madder. Other vegetable dyes such as pomegranate, turmeric and even rhubarb are still evident.  Myrobalan is still used for it’s tannins to mordant cotton, which with iron rust gives black. Traditional and complex methods of mordent and resist printing continue, with pastes made from lime and tree gum, tamarind and alum.  Though things are changing business is thriving.  There are concerns, however, about ground water quality and levels since the earthquake in 2001 which devastated the region. Lack of water does remain a threat to traditional dyeing practices all over India.

Back in the village we are shown new bedspreads designs, printed and dyed with rhubarb and indigo on organic cotton grown in Gujarat. Hand printed fabrics in indigo, Indian red and Kasis (iron and tannin) are chosen for suits, dresses and shirts.  They show us printing on both organic and non organic cotton and explain how the organic cotton seems to improve the take up of dyes and intensify the colours. After a very informative and productive day and a  lunch of chciken, goat and vegetable curries with rotis seated on the floor of the office we leave with our bundle of sample fabrics and cotton stoles.

The next day a drive to Bhujodi to visit master weavers and choose shawls and stoles. We are shown yarn dyed this time in indigo fermentation vats in the ground . They are kept to an even temperature by burying the vats in goat dung which keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The master weaver noticed a shawl that Denny was wearing. One which she bought in 1996. He recognized it as his work and so a wonderful reunion took place followed by a celebration meal seated on the floor of his home. Wonderful hospitality in such a beautiful place.

A visit to the legendary, Mr Wazir, who shows his amazing collection of textiles to those who share his passion and might help him with his dream of opening a museum.

Mr Wazir

Mr Wazir

Next day we head off on the 12. 25 for the next18 hour train journey of books, twisted sheets, calls of the chai wallahs walking the corridors and food sellers calling “ommelit, cutlit “. In the morning the Pink city awaits.

Above the clouds

As a child of an airline employee I was born and spent my early years abroad in warm climes. Many hours were also spent on long haul flights around the world. I loved looking out of the windows at the brilliant blue stratosphere and wonderful cloud landscapes beneath. Happy memories for me have not a rose tinted hue but one of various shades of blue.

 

In cold, dark and cloudy January it is sometimes hard to imagine the long summer days when you are torn between the garden and various creative projects. Making a mess outside and hanging indigo dyed cloth from washing lines to dry under warm blue skies seems a long way away. It is a good time, however, to make plans, buy seed, fabric and materials in readiness.

An exhibition with a friend, Noriko McFarlane, during Oxfordshire Artsweek in May is already in the diary. A conversation about the colour blue has led us down new paths with plans for work in indigo and pottery with blue glazes. Speaking of future plans a big thank you to those of you who have been in touch about workshops. I have people booked on every one though non are full yet. There is a new 3 day mud resist course penciled in for the August bank holiday if anybody is interested.

Inspiration and familiar faces

Took my silk stoles for an outing to a Textile Fair at Bisley village hall on Saturday. I sold my Japanese indigo stole, even though I was determined not to, but a lovely lady fell in love with it. I was also promoting my workshops and there was quite a lot of interest in the eco bundling which was encouraging. India Flint breezed through Stroud this summer and many people who were interested in the process but either couldn’t afford or get a place want to know more.

Ann, one of the lovely workshopees from my last workshop in Herefordshire appeared and we had a lovely chat. I think I will be seeing more of her next year on a mud resist and eco – bunding course. There were a few familiar faces from other workshops and other connections and it was lovely to renew contact.

I also spent time talking to the very interesting and knowledgeable Martin Conlan of Slow Loris who had wonderful textiles from south west China. Intricate indigo and wax pieces, tribal hemp, wedding embroideries and the most lovely woven pieces made using rags which really appealed to me. They had the same aesthetic appeal and spirit as Japanese Boro textiles. The one I particularly liked sold before I could summon up the justification to buy it. How much for inspiration?

We talked about indigo and hand weaving and the rapid changes that are occuring in SE Asia and the rapidly rising prices of textiles. He had some lovely Chinese decorated  chinese folded thread books or Zhen Xian Bao. I have had an idea to incorporate making something similar in a workshop.

IMG_0245
They have lots of origami type of pouches and compartments to hold threads, needles embroidery and keep sakes.
I spent yesterday working on a newspaper prototype while not as beautiful was very enjoyable to make.