The last few months have been quite the journey. My daily practice has been to follow the materials and let them lead me. I’ve been making and making and making. Now I’m starting to see what themes emerge and what connections are made. I’m a planner by nature so this has been a crazy ride for me. It’s hard to feel like I’m going in a direction when the only constants are me, my location and the indigo. I’ve had to put a lot of trust in myself and the materials. Sorting, and curating and reading, and researching have become the latest layer. And miracle of miracles, something tangible is emerging.
As things coalesce I’ll share more about each of the four projects coming out of this. I’m pretty excited about all of them and feel like they are bringing me closer to the vulnerability and truth that I was looking for in my work. Each of them expresses a part of me I will continue to develop even after the residency is over. But for now I can share my material exploration.
For the first three months I explored three different indigo recipes with various fibres, Michel Garcia’s 1-2-3 vat, a ferrous sulphate vat and a thiourea dioxide vat. I dedicated roughly one month to each vat. The recipes I’ve linked to here are similar to what I used. There is so much different information on indigo out there. You really do have to just jump in and figure it out as you go along. I compiled a number of recipes from notes from my previous work with indigo, from The Art and Craft of Natural Dye and from The Modern Natural Dyer I found The Art and Craft of Natural Dye to be the most detailed and comprehensive. I was lucky to find a copy in the Emily Carr library.
I wanted to work towards those deep dark blues and hopefully become confident enough with the nuances of a fermentation vat to be able to bring it into my home practice. I feel like I could chase indigo forever and still not understand it all. I was surprised at how easy the fermentation vat was to maintain but it just didn’t give me those blues I was looking for. This photo of ferrous indigo on linen is a great example of what happens when you don’t use a basket. The staining is from the iron. It was interesting as well to see how the vats worked with different fibre types. I now have a rich resource in the sample book I created. I can figure out which vat recipe, tools and fibre combo will work the best in different situations. That’s pretty exciting in itself.
Simultaneous to these indigo experiments I was looking at patterns around me. I generated close to 400 photographs in and around Granville Island. These became the starting point for near daily mark making and collage exercises. These exercises became the inspiration for a family workshop on developing a visual language. These samples from people from age 5 and up show the incredible range of marks and imagery inspired by photos like those above.
My own mark making experiments have also led to repeat pattern development which I’ve been using in combination with home made rice paste resist something I’ve always wanted to try.
I never imagined a sketchbook practice would be one of the pieces that came out of this residency. Over the course of a few months I’ve internalized the need to create marks or colour tests or just play. I’ve been generating ideas for weaving and just freeing my hand and eyes. I’m grateful and feeling so lucky for this time to explore, reflect make and deepen my engagement without getting hung up on end goals (too much).