Fermentation

  The current scene at my end of the dining room table. Up there: knitting, sewing, bookbinding, sewing machine repair, and a broken belt belonging to a kid. 

The current scene at my end of the dining room table. Up there: knitting, sewing, bookbinding, sewing machine repair, and a broken belt belonging to a kid. 

Truth: it's not fair that I demand that my kids put their art supplies away every night. Right now, I have taken over the dining room table in a making-things hurricane of epic proportions. Let's go back a few weeks, to the reason for my recent quiet.

Lisa's husband teases me about what I'd be like if I turned off 90% of the channels in my brain. Much more chill, that's for sure. I got to try it out. Last month, I had a planned surgery (about which I am not going to post details; suffice it to say it involved general anaesthesia and yes, I am doing well, thank you.) The surgery flattened me for a while, both mentally (thank you anaesthesia) and physically. Then my brain had more energy than my body. 

I was a vegetable on the sofa for a while. Then I read. A lot. I made my guy carry a huge heap of very heavy books home from the library as soon as I could get there. My brain started to ferment. And at the risk of mixing metaphors, cross-pollinating too. A regular compost heap with stuff growing out of it. All of the things we've been doing at the Craftstitute started to link up.

First: natural dye and embroidery. In the works, a series of botanical samplers in collaboration with a friend out west. More on that later, for now, a sneak peek of Indigo. If anyone would like to be a test stitcher, please shoot me an email. That blue thread I've used to embroider is the scavenged binding thread from indigo class and my personal dye practice. 

  Indigo, backstitched. Would you sew it as a tattoo? Satin stitch? Free-for-all?

Indigo, backstitched. Would you sew it as a tattoo? Satin stitch? Free-for-all?

Then the bookbinding started linking up with the fiber geek.

  A case book I made in class with Laura Rowley. The cover is made from a geological map by Tom Diblee, who was a geologist and family friend. He walked much of California to make maps like these; they are gorgeous. 

A case book I made in class with Laura Rowley. The cover is made from a geological map by Tom Diblee, who was a geologist and family friend. He walked much of California to make maps like these; they are gorgeous. 

Did you know that paper has grain, like fabric? There is sewing in bookmaking. There is in my head a sewn book of textiles; it does not yet exist but i have taken steps. First step: book cloth. Using fabric that I have dyed. 

  Bookcloth: linen with indigo; silk with indigo and cochineal from a random dye night years ago. A little rumpled as I learn how to paste it properly.  Also the pantone colors of the year, ha!

Bookcloth: linen with indigo; silk with indigo and cochineal from a random dye night years ago. A little rumpled as I learn how to paste it properly.  Also the pantone colors of the year, ha!

Finally! A use for all of the beautiful silk pieces that are sitting in the attic. Book cloth is used to strengthen the spine of a book and sometimes even as the entire outer cover. So many possibilities.... 

Now that I can heave things around at my whim again, I'm also auditioning a new variety of indigo vat -- the ferrous vat -- which is 1) not smelly, so we can use it indoors; 2) does not require warm ambient temperatures to work and 3) can be used with resist paste. Uh-oh....

  ferrous vat reducing.

ferrous vat reducing.

Class with this vat is happening on the 18th of February if you want to come and play. Also on the schedule: two line weaving ('tangle) classes, a crochet class, a marbling class, and a soapmaking class.

Turns out, my brain at half speed has been having a lot of fun. My body at half speed wants to hit the ground running. And all of the input of the past six months -- all of the classes I've taken and taught and sat through -- all of that stuff is in there, forging connections. This is what I was hoping to get out of the Craftstitute. I'm delighted with this give and take.  

I (we!) would love to see or hear about your personal fermentations -- what has the creative chaos in your mind been spitting out during these darker months? Anything you'd like to see again? Or for the first time? 

Now I'd better go put some of that stuff... into more organized piles.

x Erika

Robin