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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Real Magic

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the
mysterious.  It is the source of all true art and all
true science.  Whoever does not know it, who can 
no longer pause to wonder
or stand rapt in awe,
is as good as dead."
Albert Einstein

I admit to an insatiable curiosity.  I love to find out how things are done...not that I intend to do all of them, but I love learning about the twists and turns it takes to master a variety of skills.  EXCEPT, except...when I don't.  Magic is a wondrous thing and too much curiosity can kill the cat (as they say).   Read Here is Real Magic by Nate Staniforth and you will understand when I say that some things are best not understood: leaving some explanations as "magic" is rapturous and exciting feeling.  Can't we all use a bit of magic in our lives?

That is exactly how I feel about indigo dying.  You fold and clamp or sew and pull and then dip and oxidize and then dip again....and, and...unfold, rinse: MAGIC!  You know from my past blogs on shibori that the entire process has amused and delighted me every step of the way.  What I do not want to know is the why...or the how....or the because.  When I get too scientific the fun flies out the window.

So why do I rant now?  Probably rationalization or self-defense. 
My intrepid dyeing buddy, Barbara, and I took off for the Asheville Local Cloth Indigo interest group this week where we would share a "community dye vat" and trade ideas with fellow dyers.  Before leaving we took time to fold and clamp and, in Barbara's case, sew and pull, our designs.

The group was delightful but I admit to an impatient itching to get to the was fine but I was like a kid wanting to unwrap the presents.  The community dye vat is huge:

 The leader would take buckets from this massive container and add a mixture to it and then warm it (for animal proteins, i.e. wool and silk) and leave another cool (for cellulose, i.e. cotton and bamboo).
Then it would stabilize, get pH tested and yadda, yadda...yawn.  This is where my mind drifted as others took copious notes.

The pH test (above) and the wait for a green tint and the production of a "bloom" on the top of mixture had me dancing side to side.  Oh yes, I do admire the patience and the knowledge of those who knew what was really happening chemically, I do, I do....but I was ready for magic.

Finally we could slowly, slowly lower our fabrics into the correct pot, set the timer, hold the floaters down and wait....The excitement was fever pitch.  Timers rang and gloved hands extracted wads of fabric (without bubbles, and no drips) from the pot.  We squeezed out the dye and watched as green fabric oxidized into blue and ran them into the alley to drip further.  

We could double (even triple) dip and repeat the process all the while taking notes (not me I confess) on how long the dips must be, how to neutralize with vinegar, which fabrics needed further...blah, blah...blah.  I kept checking my dripping wads unable to contain myself.

Finally we could open, rinse and neutralize.  And the magic revealed itself.  At least it was magic to me.  Kudos to the souls who continued making notes and comparing test pieces.  God love them.  

discussing a particular sewing and pulling technique

I was ready to see the result and not give a care how it happened:


Now, do not misread here: I am not dissing those who want, need, search and study to know more.  I admire them.  It's just that there are some things that need to be just enjoyed and not understood and this, for me, is one of them.  Cool, no?

and my buddy Barbara?  She is well on her way to understanding the alchemy of dye and I salute her pursuit and pledge my support in every way.  I will call her when I need to know if it is vinegar or salt I need to add and I won't bother her to understand why.

Barbara's gorgeous work

And before I forget let me share with you the results of a previous magical dye day here.  My friend Ellen Lindner, a renowned textile artist paid me a visit and was kind enough to share my project in her blog.  Enjoy.

I hope there is something in your world that is magical, something that you choose not to understand for the simple reason that it would spoil the excitement or the surprise of whatever happens.  Sometimes we have to protect our "magical moments" - the world of google and its endless explanations can be helpful - but don't let it rob you of the magic.

Magically Ignorant,
p.s.  For those deep divers who wonder how a green plant gets harvested and made into a magic blue dye check out this blog by Catherine Ellis.   (lots of links today!  hope you enjoy them all.)

1 comment:

  1. Ahh Cindy our intrepid explorer. I love it, keep going down all the unknown paths and letting us less adventurous experience through you.


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