Notions-Drye Goods Studio Diary

Thanks for checking in. I am a fiber artist. My current emphasis is on eco printing and other wildcraft with a touch of up-cycling thrown in. You can also catch up with me on Facebook at Drye Goods Studio.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Zen and Cats

 "I have lived with several Zen masters-all of them cats."

Eckhart Tolle

I have been rereading Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart, an advisable book in the middle of a pandemic that seems never ending. It is tempting to keep thinking that things "will get better when fill in the blank". I keep doing that to myself over and over. Not long after the year began I was reading an article on the Black Plague in Europe. It started in 1346 and faded out by 1351, or about 5 years give or take depending on who you ask. This may seem somewhat depressing, as it did to a friend who said something to the effect of-"But that was before modern medicine and electricity!!" But, really, I found it to be helpful. Especially with all the talk about lack of enough vaccine doses (for the first time in a very long time I am "too young" for something) and now teenage mutant ninja virus variants and all the rest. This isn't going away anytime soon, so it seems to me that it is better to have that expectation than to be constantly disappointed that things don't go "as planned".  There are just some things that are out of our control, and the pandemic has pointed that out in spades.

I especially started to put this altogether when I read the chapter in Ms. Chodron's book called "Nonaggression and the Four Maras". As to what is a Mara, the story goes that on the night when Buddha was to attain enlightenment, he sat under a tree. While there he was attacked by the forces of Mara (basically demons) but when they shot swords and arrows at him, their weapons turned into flowers. The Four Maras are described as Devaputra mara, seeking pleasure or partaking in activities that kill pain in a detrimental way, such as addictive or compulsive behaviors for instance; Skandha mara is our reaction to having the rug pulled out from under us; Klesha mara is reacting emotionally to a situation in a way that makes whatever bad thing happen even worse; and Yama mara is basically thinking that if you just do enough, you will be in control of your life, and when totally uncontrollable things do come along, like the death of a loved one or plans change due to a pandemic, you basically bring the other maras crashing down on your head. Read her book, she says it a lot better than I can.

So, while I was pondering all this I decided to work on some small collage pieces to be placed into Pottery Place Plus. I have some small stretched canvases (9" x 12") that were calling to me. I started with enough eco printed fabric to "slip cover" the stretched canvas, and let it go from there. There was a lot of digging around in the studio, not to find anything specific, but to see what looked like it wanted to be together. So these were a meditation of sorts.

I am also trying to take a page from this little sentient being. When I feed her in the morning I sometimes ask her what her plan for the day is. She tends to blink slowly at me as if to ask "Plan? Who needs a plan?" If the weather is good it might be a day to go have a walk about in the yard, if the weather is bad it is a day for sleeping on the bathroom rug in front of the heat register. This day she saw that I was changing the sheets, one of her favorite activities! Never miss an opportunity to chase the sheets around! 

I guess the takeaway here is that I am not sure when we will have art fairs again so focusing on my online stores is the way to go. I do have work in several galleries, which are hanging in there, so I have to keep them stocked. Soon it will be time to order silk to have things ready to go when the fairs start back up again, albeit fall or beyond. One day at a time.

Speaking of, you can see my eco printing HERE and my handmade supplies HERE. My work is showing at Pottery Place Plus in Spokane and Essential Art in Moscow Idaho and hopefully this summer at Entree Gallery in Nordman Idaho. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

New Year, New Day

 "Living in the past is depression, living in the future is anxiety."


We have hit the gray and sometimes bleak part of winter here, so I decided to spend the week making a little sunshine. In the summer I pick Tansy flowers from along the river and hang them to dry for just such an occasion.

I put the dried flower heads in a pot of water to soak overnight, then simmered them for about 45 minutes to make the dye. The scent is lovely, like yarrow, sharp and calming at the same time.

This is right at the beginning, such a beautiful soft color! I simmered them for about an hour and then let them sit until evening before removing them from the dye bath.

The fabric in the background silk crepe de chine, the one swooshing across the middle is silk dupioni. These were scrappy type pieces of fabric that I had treated with alum last summer (I have no idea what I intended to do with them then) and they did have a bit of iron contamination as there are some spots here and there. No worries, I will either find something to do with them, or maybe, give them a bath in the iron pot and turn them olive green at a later date. Right now they are hanging in my studio so I can enjoy the color, which is about the color of the winter sun here when we get to see it.

At the moment, I am doing my best to live in the moment. Having too many expectations for the coming year could make it seem worse than it actually is. Looking back on the debacle of 2020, I can see where I did that to myself at times. I was just reading an article about people who are starting up whole new businesses during the pandemic, and I know several personally that started up businesses during the Great Recession that are still in business. While I have no interest in reinventing the wheel at this point, I am looking deeply (as I was right before the pandemic started) into the business side of my art, while still practicing art, no matter what type it is. I bought myself a little Christmas present, Shelley Rhodes book Sketchbook Explorations, and although I have never really kept sketchbooks decided it would be an interesting idea to mess around with while waiting for the snow to melt and spring to return. Only two days into it and I have had a bunch of thoughts about the art, that may or may not lead to other business ideas. But without the art, there is no business, so the thing to do is keep making more art and when the time is right (whenever in the world that might end up being) the business ideas tend to synthesize themselves.

If you can't seem to get into the "Happy New Year" mood, that may actually be a good thing for now. It may be your soul protecting you from either overthinking the past or the future; and thus causing you pain of one sort or another. About the only thing you have control over is today, so the things to do today are those that make tomorrow a better place, no matter what happens. 

Cheers, take care of yourself and stay safe.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Merry Christmas

 "My dear

In the midst of strife, I found there was,

within me, an invincible love.

In the midst of tears, I found there was

within me, an invincible smile.

In the midst of chaos, I found there was

within me, an invincible calm.

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that

within me, there lay, an invincible summer. 

And, that makes me happy.

For it says, that no matter how hard

the world pushes against me, within me,

there's something stronger..."

Albert Camus

Poinsettia on watercolor paper treated with alum alone. Very Bright and zingy! The yellow is from the green leaves of the plant, the purples and greens from the red leaves of the plant.

Poinsettia on watercolor paper. Half the papers were treated with alum and half with a soak in iron water; then the papers were layered alternately so that both mordants effect the colors from the leaves. Some might say darker and more somber, but I think they are very interesting to look at.

A few years ago I did a post about poinsettia, such as its poisonous reputation etc., you can check that out here.

Have a wonderful holiday season, make the best of it any way you can while protecting yourself and those around you. Dig deep enough and you will find your invincible summer.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Early Winter

"Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people's legs like house cats."

Sarah Addison Allen, The Sugar Queen

One of my favorite winter scenes, red hawthorn berries and white snow.

The cactus are safely ensconced in the sunroom for winter.

Here is our house cat, very displeased with the snow.

The damage from an early snow, the leaves were still on the trees, making the weight from the snow more than the trees could bear. Our patio furniture is under there somewhere. Now it is so cold that to try to brush away the snow could do more damage, so we wait for warmer temperatures and hope there is no wind in the meantime.

 I have been passing the time at the sewing machine, you can see the results of that in my Etsy shop under needle cases, I  hope to get some other things done for my Square shop and Pottery Place Plus as well. Then I hope to get back to winter time eco printing activities and more blog posts.

I hope you are safe and warm and wish you peace in trying times.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

After the Ecstasy, The Laundry

 "Mystery is so ever-present that no one can know for certain what will happen one hour from now."

Jack Kornfield, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path

I actually love doing studio laundry, I get to look over each eco print in detail. This is a Golden Currant Leaf



Sunflower leaf

Peony with coreopsis


My eco printing is now available online! CLICK HERE

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Peeling Onions Part ll

 "Reality, it seems, is not a flat plane, but has as many veils as an onion has skins."

Johnny Rich, The Human Script

This is onion skin with no pre mordant laid out on silk dupioni. After laying out the onionskins and folding the fabric in thirds the long way, I put rusted nails about every 5 inches or so and then rolled the silk up jelly roll style. Then it was steamed for an hour and allowed to cool off. You can let it set longer for darker colors, but you run the risk of the rust "burning" the fabric. Everywhere the nails interact with onionskins, you end up with black stripes; almost an animal print!

Once the above procedure is done you can then dip the fabric in iron water-no heat applied in this case. It starts to change from orange to browns, greens and grays almost immediately, so keep an eye on it. I think this sample was about 30 minutes or so. You can either rinse it out at that point or let it dry on its own, keeping in mind it will continue to darken. Also remember that wet fabric appears about two shades darker than it will when it dries, so just gage from that how dark you want it to get.

Side by side-the tiger print and the jungle it lives in!

If you would like to see a real world application of this technique visit my page at the Pottery Place Plus Online Store.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Peeling Onions Part I

 "Life is an onion-you peel it year by year and sometimes weep."

Carl Sandburg 

We grow a lot of onions! We grow Candy Sweets as they are not readily available in stores and are really good. The dye material they are wrapped in is a bonus! We also grow a few red onions.

Just lay them out on the silk and roll them up. With no other plant material you end up with a kind of marbled effect. I used scraps of silk dupioni for these samples.

This with no mordant.

This is with an alum mordant.

This is red onion skin with an alum mordant. Love the shots of green!

Iron pot as a pre mordant, I filled the pot with water and a small touch of vinegar, heated it to boiling, shut off the heat, let it cool for an hour and then added the piece of silk. I let it soak for several hours. Then I rolled up the onionskins and steamed.

Here they are all laid out side by side. Normally I would just be adding crumbled onionskins around leaves, but I thought this was a good way to show different mordants and eventually I will use the fabric for various projects. The next post will show the effect of rusty objects as a co-mordant.

You can find my handmade supplies in my Etsy shop and scarves in the Pottery Place Plus online store.