Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Up and Dyed

Last Monday at Pinehill Farm, my friend Anna-Maria was host to a group of school children from the urban elementary school where she is also a teacher. The purpose of the visit was to give the children, many of whom had never spent any time in the country before, the opportunity to visit a farm, meet the animals, and experience nature. The activities included nature walks, hand carding and spinning wool, and tie dyeing their own t shirts with a natural, plant based dye. I was in charge of the tie-dye workshops and showed the kids how to make basic tie-dyed designs and how to do the steps involved in the dyeing process- except for the actual dyeing part. I did that. For obvious reasons, we thought it best to keep the children away from the five gallon bucket of dye.


Indigofera tinctoria

The natural dye that I used was indigo. Indigo is an interesting plant, pretty in its own right, with a long history of use as a dye plant all over the world. The dye is made from the leaves, and in its natural state, is insoluble in water. The dye must be 'reduced', a process whereby the oxygen is removed, and it can then be mixed with water. Jacquard makes a ready to use reduced indigo dye, which is what I used. The actual dye in the bucket was a nasty-looking green, and the tied up shirts came out of the liquid first a bright yellow-green, but then turned a deep blue as they were exposed to the air. This was fun for the kids to watch - like magic! After the dye had oxidized and the children rinsed and untied their shirts, they saw what they had created. This was my first experience working with indigo. I wasn't sure what to expect, but results were quite beautiful.

These two shirts are ones that I made with the left over dye. And there was quite a lot of extra dye. I hated to waste it, so we now have a lot of blue work shirts and linens.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Along with all the gardening and animal husbandry (wifery?) that goes on around here, I have managed to make time to produce some new collages. I made my first attempt at an equine themed painted paper collage with the intention of submitting it to the jurying process for an equine art exhibition in the U.S. coming up this fall. It took a lot longer to make the collage than I thought it would, but I was still able to squeak in under the wire and get my entry in on time. Now I'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Here is the work in question. I call it "Up and Over".
Up and Over- 20X16, painted paper collage on panel, © 2010 Alyson Champ


This is a detail shot of the horse's head. Yes, those are little pieces of painted paper. You can see why it took so long, can't you?


Up and Over detail

And while we are on the topic of equine art, I found this print in a flea market near where I live. I was admiring it and, much to my surprise, my husband up and bought it for me. It is likely that the frame is worth more than the print itself, but still I thought it was beautiful. It's probably a copy of a Mughal or Persian miniature.