Saturday, 1 April 2017

on firm ground by the big muddy

it seems to me that in these troubled times
it is more important than ever to slow down
pay attention to the precious planet we inhabit
and at the same time nurture our inner selves

so when the plug was pulled on the New Mexico tour
that had been planned for the last half of May
it seemed to me to be the perfect opportunity 
to offer a retreat in New Orleans, this time on the other side
of the big muddy

if you'd care to join me for three days of
wandering, gathering, listening
dyeing, stitching, writing and folding

please drop me a line via my contact page 
so I can send you the details
(presently four spaces remain open)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

learning life lessons

it was a splendid road trip
pootling across Australia with Kubbi the One-Eyed Wonder Dog
nine hours on the road (punctuated by frequent stops to
wander in the bush and gaze at flora)
is a lot of thinking time.

there and back again is twice that.

I always learn something new from teaching workshops
what became crystal clear to me during the three days at Beautiful Silks Botanical Studio
is that the work I do
is also my own big life lesson.

that the act of teaching is my personal journey to be the best person (in this life) that I can be.
it isn't all roses, and it's hard sometimes to resist being catty about the way that the "ecoprint", a term I optimistically coined in 1999, has been hijacked to be anything but "eco-friendly" or sustainable.
because when I hear of the mountains of plastic and the bucket-loads of adjunct mordants being used out there I do become quite despondent.

but then I read this

"Thank you, for another brilliant, creative soul feeding workshop, that brought a group of strangers together but leaving as friends"

and it warms my heart because it reminds me of what is really important.

it isn't the brightness of the colour (though we certainly had that) or the volumes of product ... it's the connections we make when we gather together around a cauldron.

in this instance, a "second skin" class, it was also about the empowerment that comes with the simple skills of making.

I'd probably have made truckloads of loot over the years if I had just kept the botanical contact print process a secret and churned out yardage or silk pyjamas and a squillion printed wool scarves, but for me the greater satisfaction comes with seeing the happy smiles that bloom when dresses grow using simple running stitch, lovely threads and beautiful cloth. (all all we need, really, is 'enough')

in "second skin" we make string, measure with it, make a few marks with graphite and then boldly cut and sew.
no clatter of machines, just the quiet ebb and flow of conversation, and sometimes simply gentle silence.

and magic happens.

in this last class people shared so many life skills beyond just sewing and dyeing.
friendships were forged, wisdoms exchanged.

and that makes my life worth living. with bells on.

and then (fresh from the cauldron)
I was given the most magnificent present hand-stitched
with so much love, and dyed in my favourite colours.
 thank you, Robyn.
it's going to wander with me.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

reira he makutu i roto i tenei wahi

I cheated.
I used google translate in the hope that it would find the correct Māori words for
"there is magic in this place"
(although I will confess that when I pasted the answer back in, and asked her to detect the language,
Granny Google came up with 🌸 Hawaiian)

forgive me. 

there IS magic in this place

...the place being the wonderful garden in the lovely Lud Valley that Judy and Michael Keylock have been opening (along with their hearts) for over seven years now, to let me play with leaves and words, paper and cloth while Chloe cooks up the most delicious food. 

we eat the food that has been grown in the garden while making colour from leaves that drift underfoot. 

there is a particularly special plant, Griselinia littoralis, that doesn't get a mention in any of the traditional New Zealand dye books...but contains a rather fabulous colour (first discovered thanks to my friend Rachelle, who bundled leaves from it during a class I taught in the Whitireia Summer School at Kapiti in 2009).  cooked in water it turns the colour of tea...but bundled it delivers the sweetest pink.

only two species occur in Aotearoa, with a further five in South America. 

sometimes they are epiphytes and live on a friend.  rumour has it they arrived with the Māori (apparently a decoction of the bark could be of use against venereal disease. hmm.)

at the end of each day I went to my favourite place (in the whirled) for a swim. there's something about diving into cold water and bursting up into air again that makes me feel like a new woman. 
and that experience is not only fabulous, but free!

wandering in the Suter Gallery on my way to the airport, I encountered a painting of Huria Matenga who looks astonishingly like my maternal grandmother

even flying in and out is a wonderful experience, as the land and the sea unfold below

though it's so very hard to leave.

which is why there four of us made sure to find a time that suited us all for a return, which looks like being in the third week of April next year (when we can once again have an open fire)

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

group theory

we are on beautiful Maui
a sacred island where time slows down and turtles wander up the beach
where the days seem to drift gently but the week
has rushed by

we have written poetry
made drawings, stitched, dyed
made things new to us that appear to have taken up some ancient island essence
gathered shells and made string

there are thirteen of us + me
which makes fourteen (+ our fearless leader, Sharon)
so fifteen in total

nine are recidivists, four are new to me
there are three sets of friends (in two of them, one of each has met me before)
and a mother and daughter (there were nearly two family groups, but my Ma didn't make it)
there are five Australians, ten Americans
two dual nationals (one American Australian, one Latvian Australian), and two Australians who emigrated to America
among the returners, three came to New Mexico , one to Whidbey Island
one to Inverness, one to Santa Barbara, one to Odessa and two to a class in Australia

my mathematical genius (and conscientious objector) grandfather would have had great joy in devising a Venn diagram.

I began to try and draw one, but it turned into a paeonie.

the marvellous thing is that this group melded remarkably quickly into sisterhood.
the talk is easy, the laughter flows close to the surface :: I feel deeply blessed that the work I do brings me together with people whom I hope I see again

I am also hoping to return to Maui, but who knows where or how the winds will blow, the way our precious whirled is going...